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Gameday: Drop the Puck

Friday, 10.4.2013 / 12:30 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Drop the Puck
It’s (finally) time.

Michael Smith
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After a week’s worth of practice, the Carolina Hurricanes begin the 2013-14 regular season against the Detroit Red Wings, a new Eastern Conference opponent.

“It’s been a long, anxious week, and the guys are just excited to get started,” Jordan Staal said. “I’m sure there are a few nerves in the room, but that’s a good thing. Guys will be ready to play.”

Elias Lindholm, the team’s fifth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, will make his NHL regular season debut, and he gets to do so against a team with eight Swedes on its roster. Lindholm, 18, said he golfed with Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg last summer.

“It’s cool to meet Detroit in the first game,” Lindholm said. “I’m excited, and it’s going to be fun.”

Lindholm said his parents will be at PNC Arena tonight to watch him make his debut. So, how are the nerves?

“Still a couple of hours left,” he said with a smile. “I’m going to be nervous in a couple of hours.”

Canes head coach Kirk Muller said he can relate to first-game jitters. He made his NHL regular season debut against the New York Islanders in 1984. In the five seasons prior, the Islanders captured four straight Stanley Cups and five straight conference championships.

“I know exactly what they’re thinking. You’ve got to just go out and play and have fun,” Muller said. “They’ll be nervous. First opening game like this, and they’re playing against some pretty mature guys over there.”

Detroit, now a member of the eight-team Atlantic Division, comes to Raleigh already having topped the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Wednesday night.

“They’ve been good for a very long time. We’re going to have to limit our mistakes,” Staal said. “If we play the way we can, I think we’ll be just fine.”

“We’re going to play a team tonight that we respect, and a team that’s not going to beat themselves. We’ve got to do the same as them,” Muller said. “We can’t go out and beat ourselves. We have to play a smart, disciplined game against these guys.”

The Canes had a trio of players return to good health this week, and they’ll all be in the lineup tonight. Lindholm will center the fourth line, Jeff Skinner will slot in on the third-line wing with Riley Nash and newly-signed Radek Dvorak and Alexander Semin will appear in his usual right-wing position on the first line. The lineup gives the Hurricanes four balanced lines of attack, something they’ll need against a deep Detroit squad.

This marks the first meeting between the two teams since March 24, 2012, a 5-4 win for the Wings in Detroit. Carolina holds a 3-2 record in the last five meetings between the two teams in Raleigh; the Wings and Canes last met in North Carolina on April 6, 2011, a 3-0 victory for Cam Ward (who made 42 saves) and the Hurricanes. Tonight marks the first time Carolina will face Detroit in their season opener.

As the clock ticks closer to puck drop in the 2013-14 regular season, Lindholm said the key to a successful debut is simple.

“I’ll try to play my game and have fun. That’s what’s most important: to have fun,” he said. “This is what you dream about, and now you’re here, so enjoy the moment and have fun.”



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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 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
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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