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Tracking the Storm

Canes Getting as Prepared as Possible

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 8:44 AM / 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 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73