- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Capitals' defense, which surrendered the 10th-most goals last season, improves with the return to health of captain Chris Clark and Brian Pothier, both of whom missed the better part of the last two seasons because of injuries. With the rest of the team well set, Washington has 82 games to sort out whom to trust in net.
LAST SEASON 45-30-7 (6th in East); lost in conference finals to Pittsburgh
KEY ADDITIONS D Andrew Alberts, RW Tom Kostopoulos, D Aaron Ward, C Stéphane Yelle
KEY LOSSES D Anton Babchuk, RW Patrick Eaves, D Frantisek Kaberle, D Dennis Seidenberg
They earned the nickname Cardiac Canes after pulling off two breathtaking upsets during their run to the Eastern Conference finals. "No one believed in us except us, and that was the difference," says forward Scott Walker, who scored the series-winning overtime goal against Boston in the second round. "Everyone stuck together."
The re-signing of free agents Erik Cole, who works well alongside superstar center Eric Staal, and feisty winger Chad LaRose kept the Hurricanes' top six intact and left them with a total of nine players who were on Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup winner, including underrated goalie Cam Ward (below).
One of the links to that season—and also to last spring—is defenseman Aaron Ward, who is back with the Hurricanes after two seasons with the Bruins. Ward, who was memorably on the receiving end of a Walker blow during Game 5 of the playoff series, now feeds the hand that punched him, and the two have let bygones be bygones. "I'm just glad he's on our team," Walker says. "He makes [us] better."