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Wild 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61