'Canes another year older, wiser _ better?

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Eric Staal figures the Carolina Hurricanes will be better this season -- if only because they're older.

One of the NHL's youngest teams last year allowed a playoff berth to slip through its fingers on the final day of the season. Now they've matured, and they don't want their postseason fate to once again come down to one last game.

They'd rather take care of that well ahead of time this year, and it starts Oct. 7 with their home opener against the same Tampa Bay team that kept them out of the playoffs last season.

Staal says they're now another year stronger, wiser -- and better.