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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.”



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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81