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Canes Getting as Prepared as Possible

Sunday, 10.3.2010 / 8:44 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Getting as Prepared as Possible
Slowly but surely, the Canes are getting acclimated to their new surroundings.

On the second day in St. Petersburg, the team headed to the Jubilee practice facility not far from the hotel. In the history-filled building (see Mike Sundheim’s blog for more details), the players hit the ice for their first extensive workout since Friday’s exhibition vs. Atlanta.

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Click here for a photo gallery from Sunday’s practice and sightseeing tour.

Admittedly, the start was a little rough given travel and jet lag issues.

“It was a little sluggish at first as the legs got going again, but all things considered it was pretty good,” said Erik Cole. “There have been moments in training camp where I probably felt worse.”

“I thought they worked through it, and by the end of practice I was comfortable,” said coach Paul Maurice. “Usually after the first four drills everyone is fresh and ready to go, but we had some guys bent over and they were feeling it. Our goal by the end of practice was for everyone to at least feel good, and I think we got to that.”

Besides the obvious conditioning aspects, the practice was also used to give the players a better feel for the larger international ice surface that will be used against SKA St. Petersburg on Monday. While they don’t want to become too accustomed to the bigger rink as the first two games of the regular season in Helsinki will be on NHL-sized ice, it will affect their normally-aggressive style of play for the time being.

”We normally run a two-man forecheck, and you don’t run a two-man forecheck on Olympic ice,” said Maurice. “We have aggressive, pinching defensemen, and you just don’t. It’s a lot more of a puck-possession game.”

Having to alter the team’s system to that degree doesn’t make the SKA game the most ideal last-minute preparation for the real thing, but Maurice said that the atmosphere should help balance that out.

”From the questions I’ve been asked (by Russian media), I feel like this is a big deal,” said Maurice. “This is my first time in a Russian arena and I really don’t know, but I would think there will be a lot of energy.”

That should indeed be the case, with the more-intimate-than-the-RBC-Center venue at the Ice Palace expected to hold 12,300 very partisan supporters. Judging by the media and fan interest, the game certainly seems like a big deal.

“It will be a wild atmosphere, I’m sure,” said Chad LaRose.

Although SKA is off to what they consider a slow start in the Russian league (they have won six of their 11 games, two by way of shootout), they boast several ex-NHL players including Alexei Yashin, Evgeni Nabokov, Maxim Afinogenov, Sergei Brylin and Dennis Grebeshkov. Although not a household name in the U.S., leading scorer Mattias Weinhandl (13 points) had 182 NHL games to his credit with the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild.

”We know almost half of their team,” said Maurice. “When you watch Yashin and he’s interested and he’s going, he’s as good as any player in the NHL.”

That should help the Canes with some individual tendencies, but they have not spent a ton of time breaking down film.

“I know maybe a handful of players that I’ve actually played against in the NHL, but realistically I couldn’t tell you one thing about their systems or anything like that,” said Cole.

Win or lose, this game will be intriguing to say the least. For those able to tune in at 11 a.m. eastern time on Monday, we will have live streaming video (with Russian commentary – enjoy!) available here. I’ll make that link prominent around game time. I may also do a live chat depending on internet strength at the arena.

Wrapping up some loose ends from Sunday’s practice, the forward lines had a different look to them, which can be seen fully here. Maurice said that Cam Ward will get the start in goal but has the option to sit out the second half depending on how he feels.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery from practice and the sightseeing tour of St. Petersburg that followed. We have a team dinner in a few hours and that’s it for tonight, but I should be able to check in tomorrow after the morning skate.


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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