Tracking the Storm

Competition Magnifies as Group Thins

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 12:45 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Competition Magnifies as Group Thins
After four preseason games in four nights, including a three-game road swing, the Canes got back to work on Monday morning in Raleigh.
After four preseason games in four nights, including a three-game road swing that took the team through Buffalo, Quebec City and Montreal, the Carolina Hurricanes got back to work on Monday morning in Raleigh.

Michael Smith
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With another round of cuts – which brings the Canes’ roster total to 28 – made official on Monday, training camp shifts gears from the broad to the specific. Head coach Kirk Muller said the focus now is on fine-tuning details of the team’s game after coming off the weekend 1-3 in preseason play.

“I think we’re right on course,” he said. “You always want to win, but we knew before that [in] the four games, the priority was to give everyone an opportunity to play.”

Competition for securing a spot is now magnified, as the days tick down to opening night on Oct. 4. For those still in Raleigh – including Jeremy Welsh, Zac Dalpe, Matt Corrente, Brett Bellemore, among others – time may still be on their side.

“Stage one of camp was pretty successful,” said Muller. “The guys worked hard and competed. Some guys’ stock went up, and some went in the other direction. But they still have the opportunity because we don’t have our [final group] yet.”

From the outset, Muller saw the team’s first four preseason games as a fair barometer of player evaluation; the results weren’t of chief concern.

“I’m not worried about goals against in the first few games because we had guys that were just learning the system and (essentially) two teams,” he said.

Even still, being blanked 6-0 by the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec City on Friday night didn’t sit well.

“No one wants to lose. It was a quiet plane ride to Montreal,” said Jiri Tlusty. “The next day, we knew the deal. Everyone came out hard and focused, even at the morning skate.”

That night, Anton Khudobin made 41 saves, back-stopping the Canes their first victory of the preseason, 3-1. Muller said the team surrendered just eight scoring chances in five-on-five situations.

“We wanted to prove that we can play against everyone,” Tlusty said. “We need to play our style and be sure about our game. That’s the most important thing.”

“The Montreal game was a really good sign for me that the stuff that we work on, it translates into it,” Muller said.

Khudobin’s solid performance in net, Muller said, sets the table for the team being able to ice a dynamic duo between the pipes.

“We knew when we brought him in that he was a quality goalie and a great character guy,” Muller said. “We’ve got a one-two tandem right now. There’s no reason why those two guys can’t be one of the best pairings.”

The team is currently battling a number of injuries to its top players. Tuomo Ruutu (lower-body), Alexander Semin (upper-body) and Tim Gleason (upper-body) are all considered day-to-day, but likely won’t skate with the team on Tuesday. Elias Lindholm, who did not play in any of the three road games, is also battling an upper-body concern; he skated with Rod Brind’Amour following Monday’s practice.

The Canes are set to practice in Raleigh on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning before flying out to Columbus for their fifth preseason match on Thursday evening. Carolina wraps up its preseason schedule versus Buffalo at home on Friday.



SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72