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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

The Boys Are Back in Town

Monday, 01.07.2013 / 1:27 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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The Boys Are Back in Town
The boys are back in town.

Michael Smith
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Nine of them, at least, as the informal skates at Raleigh Center Ice ramped up with Sunday’s news of a tentative collective bargaining agreement.

Among the skaters were many of the usual crowd that skated three times a week during the 113-day work stoppage: forwards Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Chad LaRose, Anthony Stewart and Patrick Dwyer; defensemen Tim Gleason, Joe Corvo and Jamie McBain; and goaltender Cam Ward. Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth, who spends his offseasons in the Triangle, also participated in the hour-long skate.

“It’s a day we’ve been hoping for,” Ward said.

“It’s good to see everybody, and we’re ready to get the ball rolling,” Stewart said.

“In a way, it felt more like Pete Friesen’s camp during the summer,” Dwyer said. “You’re back with the boys and excited to start skating. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and the season is starting soon. It was fun to get out there and train with a purpose.”

The season will be starting soon, though an exact date remains unknown. Until final plans are hashed out, which should be sometime this week, Dwyer said the group will continue to skate every morning at RCI.

“It’s going to be a quick transition,” he said. “We’re going to have a week to get on the ice and skating, but there’s nothing like when you start banging bodies how tired and fatigued you get.”

In an attempt to retain game-shape during the work stoppage, some players ventured overseas. McBain played in Finland for about a month. Stewart joined England’s Nottingham Panthers in late September, coming back to Raleigh in mid-December.

Stewart said he played in all situations for the Panthers and averaged around 18 minutes of ice time per game. Playing on a bigger sheet of ice with only three forward lines quickly tested his stamina.

“Game speed is definitely different than practicing,” he said. “Guys seem to be doing a good job staying in shape.”

Never the less, with how fast we are barreling toward the sprint of a shortened season, there are bound to be some hiccups – systems-wise and with injuries – in the first weeks of the season.

“I think everyone throughout the league is going to have a four or five game period where there’s going to be some adjustments,” Dwyer said. “There are going to be some sore bodies.”

For those who didn’t log time abroad during the work stoppage, they are just ready to start playing games again. Jordan Staal is still waiting to play his first game as a Hurricane.

“It hasn’t felt like he’s been part of our team yet,” said his brother Eric. “He wants to play in front of our fans.”

That day will come soon, and the tangible knowledge of playing hockey brought a smile to many players’ faces. It’s that time of year once again.

“Game situations are a little bit different than having six guys skating on the same drills every time we’re out here, so it’s going to be an important week,” Ward said. “The rust will start to come off knowing the adrenaline that’s going to be pumping to get the season underway.”

“I just want to focus on talking about wins, losses, games and trying to win a Stanley Cup,” Eric Staal said.

And so it begins.



SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45