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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81