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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.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81