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One More Day

Thursday, 10.9.2008 / 2:33 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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One More Day

Only one day left until the Hurricanes open the 2008-09 season at home tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers.  Being around the locker room and practice, you can really tell that the players are looking forward to it as much as the fans.

Paul Branecky
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After weeks of tough practices in training camp, this morning’s session had more of a pregame skate feel to it, if that makes any sense.  It seemed to be less about systems work and teaching and more about just getting a skate in before the big game – a relatively loose atmosphere.

Speaking of pregame skates, there won’t be one tomorrow morning, and there should be less of them this season than in the past.  A lot of teams don’t do them at all or make them optional since their only purpose it to get a little warm-up in before that night’s game.  I’m guessing a couple of guys might still want to head out there and skate some circles even on off days, especially if they’re testing injuries, but don’t expect to see them very often.  Not that they’re ever very strenuous, but it’s one less way to get hurt, right?

Coach Peter Laviolette said that he’s comfortable with the lines he’s been using in practice recently, so I expect him to start off with those tomorrow night.  For me, Tuomo Ruutu has been a standout in practice since returning from his groin injury, so there’s no reason to think he won’t play tomorrow night.  Rod Brind’Amour has been saying that he’s not feeling as good as he wants to yet, so depending how things go he might see his minutes limited much like they were in Sunday’s exhibition finale.

As it stands right now, the third line of Matt Cullen, Ryan Bayda and Chad LaRose is an interesting one.  Cullen is a mainstay in that position, but Bayda and LaRose would probably be a line lower if Scott Walker and Justin Williams were healthy. 

That’s not to say the team isn’t comfortable using them in those slots, however.  Those two names have come up throughout camp, whether it’s from Laviolette or GM Jim Rutherford, as players who have had a strong showing in the preseason.  If they’re able to carry that into tomorrow night and beyond, that will be a huge boost for the team.

Finally, tomorrow night’s game will be the NHL debut of one Brandon Sutter.  He got to play in all six exhibition games, which he says has calmed the nerves quite a bit.  In addition to even strength duty, he’ll most likely see some time on the penalty kill, especially if Brind’Amour is limited.

Even though there’s no skate tomorrow there’s still media availability in the morning, so check for updates before the big game.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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