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Canes Hone Details as Home Opener Nears

Sunday, 09.29.2013 / 5:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Canes Hone Details as Home Opener Nears
After over two weeks of training camp, including six exhibition games, just five days stand between the Carolina Hurricanes and their season opener against a new Eastern Conference foe in Detroit on Friday night at PNC Arena.

Michael Smith
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Though injuries to a number of the team’s top players somewhat derailed certain plans the coaching staff had for the team, head coach Kirk Muller said his squad is right on target.

“We’re anxious to work this week and move forward,” he said after an hour-long session on Sunday afternoon.

The Canes’ roster now stands at 24 players (including unsigned forward Radek Dvorak), and a few final cuts could still be on the horizon. But those final roster decisions will wait. The Hurricanes have until 5 p.m. Monday to trim their group down, and they might use every bit of that allotted time.

“The numbers are down, and we’ll just wait for a couple of players to see where they’re at,” Muller said. “We like the group that’s here … the whole mix of them.”

Carolina worked into the early morning hours of Sunday to pare their group down by a couple of players, sending forwards Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh to Vancouver in exchange for forward Kellan Tochkin and a fourth-round draft pick in 2014. The team then assigned forward Chris Terry to Charlotte, pending waivers. Finally, forward Tuomo Ruutu was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Sept. 21. Since a minimum stay on IR is seven days, Ruutu is eligible to be activated at any time.

In addition to Ruutu, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm and Tim Gleason all continue to be sidelined. Muller said Skinner could return to practice as early as Monday.

“It’s a long year, and we’ve got to be smart about it. But generally, guys want to be there and play,” Muller said. “They’ve got to get into practices first, and we’ll evaluate where they’re at conditioning-wise and playing-wise, and make some decisions then.”

With the group he has, Muller is using this final week before the regular season to fine-tune areas of the game, some as simple as the sport’s very basics. Sunday’s practice honed in on passing, puck placement and four-on-four work.

“Practices will be shorter, and they’ll have a quicker tempo,” Muller said of what to watch for in the coming days.

One element Muller said he hasn’t been able to touch on as much as he would have liked is the power play – and that’s simply because he didn’t have the bodies to do so.

“We haven’t had a chance to put the power play units together because of the injuries,” he said. “You can kind of work on it, but if you don’t have the personnel you want to use on it, it’s kind of hard to practice it.”

One main message of camp that’s certainly been heeded: being a better defensive team. In the Canes’ final three preseason games – all wins – the team allowed just two goals against and limited the opposition’s five-on-five scoring chances.

“The thing we talked about is that we have to defend better and play better defensively. I know it’s just exhibition, but in three games, we gave up a goal, a goal and a shutout,” Muller said. “That’s a compliment to the guys who are making that commitment to defense.”

Four team practices and a gameday skate separate the Hurricanes from their home opener versus Detroit, and it’s almost hard to believe we’re already here again.

“The last few games, we looked like we were in sync,” Muller said. “We’re right on target.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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