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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.



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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 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
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 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 60 11 28 -14 39
E. Staal 55 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 59 11 16 -15 27
J. Skinner 55 16 9 -15 25
R. Nash 57 7 15 -8 22
N. Gerbe 56 7 14 -11 21
V. Rask 58 8 11 -16 19
J. McClement 60 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 24 4 11 -1 15
A. Semin 36 2 12 -8 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60