Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62