Here are five questions for the Hurricanes as they open their season Saturday at PNC Arena against the Minnesota Wild.
What about a new owner?
Hurricanes president Don Waddell said late this week that the sales process continues. Chuck Greenberg, the sports attorney who is heading up an investment team that wants to buy the Hurricanes, says it has been “business as usual.” No snags in the negotiations, both agree.
It’s a complex sale, and it will need NHL approval before the ownership change, but Canes owner Peter Karmanos and the Greenberg group may have a deal in place before the season ends.
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Is Scott Darling a No. 1 goalie?
Darling believes he’s ready to be a No. 1 guy for the first time in the NHL. General manager Ron Francis believes it. Canes coach Bill Peters believes it.
Being a No. 1 goalie means stringing together quality starts, not having an occasional game where you stand on your head and make incredible saves. Darling was very good in 32 games in Chicago last season as a backup. How will he handle 50 or more starts?
Will the Canes be better in OT?
The Canes have let a lot of points slip away in overtime and shootout games the past two seasons – 15 games lost in 2016-17, 16 the year before. Everything needs to improve: better 3-on-3 play, more confidence on shootout shots, better play in net.
Darling is 4-1 in his career shootouts, stopping 10 of 12 shots. Cam Ward is 17-41, allowing 68 goals on 183 attempts.
Can the Canes score enough goals?
Peters is the first to say, “We need to score more goals.” Francis’ opinion is with better play by the group of six defensemen in the D-zone, it will create more offensive-zone time and thus more scoring chances.
But somebody has to finish. That’s the problem. Players have to go to the front of the net. Jeff Skinner may score 37 or more goals but needs help. The list of players who need to do more offensively is a long one, including defensemen – Justin Faulk being the exception – who need to do more than score an occasional goal.
Will the co-captain system work?
It’s unusual and seems quirky but Jordan Staal and Faulk, named team co-captains Thursday, are well-matched and both say there will be other voices heard, in the locker room and on the bench.
Justin Williams won’t be holding back. Skinner is an alternate captain and is good at sensing the pulse of the team. Some of the young D are fiery, competitive types. It might have been better with one player wearing the “C” but Staal and Faulk might make it work.