Some key differences between the Carolina Hurricanes of 2002 and 2006:
In 2002, everything revolved around Ron Francis, and rightfully so. At age 39, "Ronnie Franchise" had a remarkable year as a player and leader, shepherding a young team through the playoffs.
This year, take your pick of headliners.
Never miss a local story.
Is it Rod Brind'Amour, who has ably filled Francis' shoes as captain? Emerging star Eric Staal? Speedy American Erik Cole? Goalie Martin Gerber? And don't forget new acquisition Doug Weight.
If you haven't seen a game since 2002, you may not recognize the Hurricanes. That season, the Canes had five players who scored 20 or more goals, the NHL's gold standard.
This year, the Hurricanes already have four, with two more on pace to reach that mark and another two with a shot at it. Staal's 34 goals are already more than any Hurricane scored in 2002.
In 2002, the Hurricanes won 35 games and finished with a six-point lead in the Southeast Division. This season, 55 games through the 82-game schedule, the Hurricanes already have more wins (38) and only 11 fewer points (80, compared with 91 in 2001-02).