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Tracking the Storm

Gloves Come Off During Scrimmage

Tuesday, 09.20.2011 / 3:51 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gloves Come Off During Scrimmage
We knew that this season’s training camp would be physical and high intensity, partly due to the numerous scrimmages built into the schedule.

Michael Smith
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That physicality and intensity took a leap forward today when 24-year-old forward Justin Soryal sparred with Tim Gleason in the second period of the scrimmage.

For Soryal – who racked up 220 penalty minutes last season in the AHL – it was a chance to display what kind of toughness he can bring to a lineup. For Gleason, it was a good test of what he might face this season.

“It’s what exhibition scrimmages in training camp are supposed to be like,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “I don’t want to see 10 of those, but I’d like to see one of them.”

Just as fights can do during the regular season, this bout seemed to light a fire under both sides after an otherwise clean first period.

“They came out with more energy in the second, and after [the fight] it was on for awhile,” Maurice said. “That’s what you need to have happen. It was great.”

A contrast from years past, the coaching staff has scheduled more scrimmaging this year in an effort to get some of the younger players into game-like situations, increase the physicality of camp and acclimate the new players to the Canes’ system.

“I’m trying to get used to the guys and the system. It’s a good pace,” defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. “Everybody’s enjoying a good time on the ice and working hard. No one is letting up at any point.”

“You run your drills and the drills are defined. Everybody knows where they’re supposed to go,” Maurice said. “It’s fine for conditioning and teaching, but unless you’re doing a tremendous amount of battling, there’s not enough chaos in practice to simulate a game.”

Today’s scrimmage ended in a 3-3 draw. Scrimmages will continue this week, with one slated in each of the next two days before the Canes face the Nashville Predators in the preseason home opener on Friday night.

“We’re looking to have a certain level of intensity in our training camp. It’s been good, but I think our standard can still get better,” Maurice said. “We have a young team, and they have to learn how to work hard. The next five days will be tougher than the first five.”

A Look Back at Last Night’s Preseason Game in Buffalo

The Canes dropped their preseason opener in Buffalo last night, losing 3-1 to the Sabres. Buffalo rallied for three goals in the final 20 minutes after Brandon Sutter gave the Canes a lead early in the second period.

But because it’s preseason, results aren’t the chief concern. More important, perhaps, might have been the performance of the young players getting their first taste of NHL action.

Last night, the spotlight was on Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy. Both saw time together on the power play, forming a pairing that will most likely be a familiar sight in years to come.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” Murphy said. “It’s a lot different from junior hockey – you have to think a lot quicker.”

“I thought he played a pretty good game himself,” Faulk said of the 18-year-old Murphy’s first game. “We got a few shifts together on the power play, and I think for both of us it went pretty well.”

Faulk logged over 20 minutes of ice time, while Murphy played just under 19 minutes. Both known for their offensive abilities, neither factored in on the scoresheet, but Maurice liked what he saw. He said he is comfortable knowing now that he can insert them into a game-situation if needed.

“I like the way our back-end played last night with three young players,” he said. “That second period, it didn’t look like an exhibition game for us. We were on the puck, and I really liked that. The pieces are there, we just have to drive up the intensity level.”

Maurice said that one of the two defensemen, if not both, would see another preseason game. For Murphy, he’s simply taking it all in and enjoying what his first days in the NHL have offered.

“It was a great atmosphere for my first game,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, and I had a lot of fun.”

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