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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Scrimmage Sets Up Tough Decisions

Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 4:33 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Scrimmage Sets Up Tough Decisions
It wasn’t a full-fledged exhibition game, but it will have to do.

Michael Smith
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In lieu of eight preseason games, which were originally scheduled for late September and early October, the Carolina Hurricanes held a red-white intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday at Raleigh Center Ice. In a compressed, week-long training camp it’s the best the team can do to simulate game-action in advance of the fast-approaching regular season.

As head coach Kirk Muller said after practice on Monday, today’s scrimmage was squeezing eight exhibition games into one.

“To get into playing condition, the only way to do it is through exhibition games and scrimmages,” he said today. “Getting the contact and the speed of the game and having guys playing against you, that’s the only way to do it.”

So, the Canes divvied up their recently expanded group of 28 players into two teams and played three, 18-minute periods before finishing with a casual shootout. Team Red topped Team White 5-2, but that wasn’t of chief concern.

“It was good to get up to game-speed,” Jeff Skinner said. “There are some things we’re going to go over systems-wise, but I think the pace was good, and that’s really what we were looking for. I think the first two practices were fast, but when there are 10 bodies and two goalies on the ice, there are more battles in the corners and more stops and starts.”

“Honestly, the pace, tempo and the energy of the guys was better than we were expecting, so that’s a nice sign,” Muller said. “We were happy with the intensity and physical part of it.”

Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman, two young prospects vying for roster spots, each netted a goal in the scrimmage, as they both got a look on the top line with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, who also scored.

“The reason for today was to check out some different scenarios and young guys,” Muller said. “If you’re going to bring them in, give them an opportunity to look good and do well, and they did.”

Roster decisions will likely come sooner than later, according to Muller. With the Charlotte Checkers slated to play a pair of games Wednesday and Thursday, it’s probable the Canes will assign a few players before Wednesday morning’s team practice.

Recalled just yesterday along with Brett Sutter and Riley Nash, Zac Dalpe doesn’t want to make the three-hour trip back to Charlotte.

Dalpe didn’t get the initial call on Saturday to report to training camp, despite recording four goals, two assists and a plus-6 rating in his three games prior. He responded by extending his point streak to five games, notching two assists on Saturday and scoring a goal on Sunday, as the Checkers prolonged their five-game winning streak.

“It just kind of makes you play a little harder, and obviously we had a pretty good weekend. There was no bitter feeling after that,” Dalpe said. “It’s not like we got smoked because guys were pouting.”

Dalpe credits Checkers head coach Jeff Daniels for keeping the team focused on the game Saturday night, whether than worrying about who got called up or why they didn’t get called up, something they haven’t had to mentally battle all season.

“He said there were basically three groups in the room: there’s a group that was kind of mad they didn’t get called up; there was a group that were borderline guys in the American League that could step up and get more ice time; and there was a group that was from the East Coast (ECHL) that could prove they could play in the league,” Dalpe recalled. “He said, ‘One team. One purpose. Two points.’ And the boys were pretty jacked up.”

Though Dalpe didn’t score in the scrimmage, he did share ice with linemates Jordan Staal and Skinner, giving him a chance, albeit brief, to show the coaching staff and front office that he’s ready to make the jump.

“My dad goes to work at 4:30 in the morning. I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “I’m still happy I’m playing hockey, but at the same I want to play in the NHL, and I feel like I can prove that here.”

Though evaluating a handful of players in one day’s scrimmage isn’t ideal, it’s what the Canes and every other team in the NHL are facing.

Decisions are ahead.

“We wanted them to push us to make tough decisions, and they probably will,” Muller said.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 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