NHL 2013-14 Metropolitan Division team-by-team preview

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Marc-Andre Fleury

Marc-Andre Fleury

New York Rangers

Alain Vigneault

Alain Vigneault

Washington Capitals

Braden Holtby

Braden Holtby

Philadelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux

New York Islanders

John Tavares

John Tavares

Columbus Blue Jackets

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sergei Bobrovsky

New Jersey Devils

Cory Schneider

Cory Schneider

Carolina Hurricanes

Jeff Skinner

Jeff Skinner

Outlook: It's been four years since the 'Canes last earned a playoff berth and there are few reasons to believe that streak won't stretch to five. Sure, they've had to deal with a wrath-of-God plague of injuries along the way, but that isn't what doomed them. The reality is, this has been one poorly constructed team. And while GM Jim Rutherford has made a couple of sharp adds over the summer to begin to address that problem, the lineup still has a patchwork feel to it that suggests expansion team more than postseason contender. The first line is solid, but the second is a huge concern with health problems (Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu) and disapponting production (Jordan Staal) to overcome. Scoring isn't their main concern, though. That 29th-ranked defense is. The focus then will be on a blueline that will sport at least three new faces after a season-ending injury to Joni Pitkanen. The ability of that group to impact the league's worst special teams unit will determine whether Carolina makes a show of it or quickly sinks to the bottom of the conference.