Hurricane Warning: First Third of Season Crucial to Carolina Success

The Carolina Hurricanes have obtained the reputation of having slow starts in each of the past three years, despite some very strong finishes to each season.  With a huge amount of proven talent added to this year's roster, Carolina will need to prevent another slow start if they want to be serious contenders for this year's Stanley Cup.

[caption id="attachment_38" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller will attempt to guide the Hurricanes to the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09. Photo courtesy Gregg Forwerck, Carolina Hurricanes"][/caption]

With the season starting later than usual this season, Carolina will begin their 2012-13 campaign on a six game road trip thanks to previously scheduled events involving the PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes will open the season in Winnipeg before visiting Western Conference teams in Vancouver, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose.  The extended season opening road trip will end with a trip to Boston before the 'Canes home opener against the New York Rangers at the PNC Arena in Raleigh on October 26.

The difficult road stretch to begin the season only continues from there.  When the December 10 game against the Montreal Canadians goes final, the Hurricanes will have played 20 of their first 30 games away from Raleigh.  Of those first 10 home games, only three will have been against Southeast Division foes, including none against Carolina's biggest division rival, the Washington Capitals.

The constant travel to start the 2012-13 season will no-doubt be draining on coaches and players, but it will prove to be critical in the bonding of newcomers Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, with the rest of the team.

Should Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller sort out the lineup of the team's first two lines early in the season, the league will be looking at one of the most powerful teams going into the second half of the season and undoubtedly the playoffs.

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Michael Garko is a Chat Sports senior writer. E-mail him at: or reach him on Twitter: @michaelgarko.

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