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Tweetmail No. 26: Competition, Lines & Expectations

Wednesday, 08.6.2014 / 2:00 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Tweetmail No. 26: Competition, Lines & Expectations
Michael Smith
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Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

What is the sense that one of the prospects (Rask, Murphy, McGinn, etc.) will unseat someone in the lineup? – Ron G. (@ChuckTownCaniac)

Of the players in the system, forwards Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry might have the best shot at cracking the lineup out of training camp.

Of course, competition is what drives camp. I expect to see a forward like Brock McGinn or Brendan Woods or Victor Rask compete for a depth spot. And, if they don’t make the opening night roster, there’s a chance they could be seen at some point during the season in a call-up situation.

Ryan Murphy will be one to watch in camp. He logged 48 games with the Canes last season as a rookie, but the Canes currently have seven other defensemen under contract: Brett Bellemore, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Jay Harrison, John-Michael Liles and Andrej Sekera. At this stage of his career, the most important thing for Murphy is that he plays, and at his age and NHL experience, he can move between the AHL and NHL without waivers.

All that being said, he could have a stand-out camp and make the opening night roster. And don’t forget a guy like Rasmus Rissanen or Michal Jordan, two blue-liners who could challenge for a depth spot with the big club.

So, to answer your question, Ron, there is the sense that it could happen, and that’s what makes training camp so intriguing year after year.

Do you think Coach Peters will make any major forward or defense line changes? – Daniel F. (@Dferg18)

Still more than a month removed from the start of training camp, it’s sort of tough to project what’s bouncing around in head coach Bill Peters’ head, but I imagine he’ll bring some different ideas to the table. I don’t know what you’d classify as major changes, but I do think you might see some different combinations.

Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first line feature Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. Whether they’re apart or together, getting that trio, one of the league’s best just two seasons ago, off on the right foot is going to be vitally important to the team.

On defense, Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk will more than likely comprise the team’s top defensive pairing. They were dynamite last season, and they’re going to be leaned on heavily again this year.

As training camp draws nearer, we’ll explore some potential line combination options. Until then, here’s what NHL.com laid out. Agree? Disagree? Meh? Let's hear your thoughts in the (new!) comments section below!

What are the Canes’ expectations for the coming season? – Ann S. (@AnnSolberg87)

The expectation for every season is to return to the postseason with the ultimate goal of capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup. That is no different this season.

Just ask Eric Staal.

“It’s been too long,” Staal said. “It’s been extremely frustrating for us as players and obviously for the fans and people within the organization. We’re going to put pressure on ourselves to do that, to get back there.”

How much Red Bull do you and I consume in a season? How about soft pretzels? – Coop E. (@coope87)

Unofficially, a whole lot of Red Bull.

Red Bull is, quite simply, the lifeblood of the digital marketing suite, affectionately referred to as the DMS. Coop and I pound Red Bulls in the mid-afternoon like clockwork, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had taurine running through our veins.

Over the years, we’ve sampled many a flavor of Red Bull. Most recently, we’ve sipped on Red Bull Total Zero. We’ve also had the cranberry and blueberry flavors, in addition to the sugar free version. But, nothing packs the same punch as the original, “full-throttle” can.

So, if anyone reading this would like to provide the DMS with its wings, you know where to find us.

Soft pretzels were as much of a game-night routine on press row as Red Bull is an afternoon appointment in the DMS. I don’t think either of us were 41-for-41 on the soft pretzel front, but we were pretty close. I look forward to crushing more this season – with Gulden’s spicy brown mustard, of course.

***

Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to know why CHEF is a great movie that you should see, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.



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  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
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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