has been awfully busy lately, but that should be considered a good thing.
Along with defenseman Jay Harrison
, the 21-year-old winger is the only player expected to suit up for each of the Hurricanes’ first four exhibition games. That’s a stretch of three games in consecutive days and four games in five nights overall.
“In junior we used to play five games in six games sometimes, so I’ve been through it before,” said Bowman, who added that he was a little surprised to be playing against Atlanta on Saturday. “I feel like I’m getting a little bit better every game, and hopefully that’s why they keep putting me out there.”
According to coach Paul Maurice, that’s precisely the reason. For both Bowman and Harrison, the heavy workload is a sign that they’re doing well and not that the coaching staff feels it needs more time to properly evaluate each player.
“I think it’s a positive,” said Maurice. “We wouldn’t put a guy in for three games in three nights if we felt he was struggling and couldn’t handle it. I think they’ve gotten stronger, but obviously I’m not expecting them to dominate the game tonight because of some of the wear and tear, but I think they’ve earned the right to get back in.”
In a lineup dominated by veterans (full roster below), Bowman is one of a small group of hopefuls making the short trip down south. Others are Zac Dalpe
, Jon Matsumoto, Jerome Samson
, Jeff Skinner
and Jared Staal
, who will be suiting up for his first game of the preseason.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Staal. “Playing with the guys that have been there and been in the playoffs, it’s going to be a whole different level.”
Maurice said that, although he prefers to see all new players in at least one exhibition game (Staal was acquired from Phoenix over the summer and has not yet competed with the Canes), he also felt that the 20-year-old wing had earned the chance by being one of the players who has gotten stronger as camp progressed rather than hitting the wall as some young players do.
“Jared has come to camp and worked exceptionally hard,” said Maurice. “His effort level is very high.”
Line combinations were not available from the morning skate at the RBC Center, but Maurice said that Staal would likely play with a younger center, namely Dalpe or Matsumoto, and not older brother Eric.
After Saturday’s practice, the Hurricanes officially made the second round of roster cuts following the assignment of junior defensemen Austin Levi
and Rasmus Rissanen
earlier in the week. Thirteen players, none of whom were considered serious candidates to make the team right out of training camp, were assigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
They are: forwards Nicolas Blachard, Stefan Chaput, Nick Dodge, Matt Kennedy, Mike McKenzie, Oskar Osala
and Chris Terry
; defensemen Brett Bellemore
, Casey Borer, Zack Fitzgerald, Michal Jordan
and Kyle Lawson
; and goaltender Mike Murphy
Of the group, only Blanchard, Borer and Kennedy saw game action during camp.
“There are players here that have been good players for us that didn’t get into an exhibition game that I’m sure felt deserved to, but I’ve seen them play,” said Maurice, who plans to rely more on his veterans from now on. “I really would like to see all the new players here at least once.”