Canes Continue Building Foundation in Training Camp
Five takeaways from the third day of on-ice activityby Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com
Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, but for the Carolina Hurricanes, it marked the third day of on-ice activity at training camp.
No time for rest; it was back to work first thing in the morning.
Here are five takeaways from the two camp sessions on Sunday morning at PNC Arena.
1. Keep Pushing
Training camp is akin to laying a foundation on which the house of the regular season will be constructed. Each day builds upon the last. Layers are added. Subtle tweaks are made. And with each passing day, you get a more complete picture of Hurricanes hockey.
The repetition can seem somewhat tedious early on, but it's all conducted with a purpose.
"You get into battles. In the summer, you practice a little differently because you don't want to get hurt," said Nino Niederreiter, who is experiencing his first training camp as a member of the Canes. "It's nice to get that in, and I'm sure as the camp continues, the more comfortable we'll get."
Video: Niederreiter: "It's good to see new faces"
"We're pushing pretty hard," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I think guys, at this point, they come to camp in shape. They're antsy just to go play."
Playing will happen sooner rather than later. More on the rapidly approaching preseason below.
So, what about the forward lines and defensive pairs?
Well, not so fast.
The Hurricanes' known NHL contingency is pretty evenly split between Teams Pride and Passion, so there's only so much to take away from the different lines and combinations we've seen so far in the preseason. But, there have been some intriguing looks.
Video: Dzingel: "Make sure you're doing the right things"
One trio together now that might stick on Opening Night is Lucas Wallmark centering Brock McGinn and Jordan Martinook. That's a solid fourth line. Jordan Staal centering Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen is a line we saw in the playoffs. Sebastian Aho in the middle of Niederreiter and Ryan Dzingel has goal scoring written all over it. And, Erik Haula surrounded by Martin Necas and Warren Foegele is all about speed.
Intriguing, for sure, but not necessarily final.
"When we get more toward the end of the preseason, you'll start looking to make sure we have the right combos together," Brind'Amour said. "Right now, it's not as important."
3. We're Talkin' 'Bout Practice
A popular question in training camp - whether it's the media asking the head coach or fans asking other fans or fans asking the media - is who has impressed or stood out, particularly those who might be flying under the radar. It's a fair question, but it's also hard to answer because we're seeing these players in such a limited environment. Each group is on the ice for about an hour, and the competitive juices aren't exactly flowing in practice the way they would be in a game setting.
A player might score a nice goal in one drill and a goalie might make a nice save in another, but it's tough to truly appreciate who can do what most consistently until a puck drops in a game.
"I try not to get too excited about stuff. The negative stuff, I think, stands out more, guys who aren't quite up to speed, you can tell. It's our job to get them up to speed," Brind'Amour said on Saturday. "Most of the stuff we're doing right now, to be honest with you, hasn't been that hard. Pretty much just up and down, getting our systems and drilling that home. It's hard to say if anybody is jumping off the page."
Decisions certainly aren't going to come easy, especially with the depth that this particular training camp roster boasts.
4. Let's Play Hockey
One way to sort through the talent is to put it to the test on the ice.
"In the old days in training camp, you scrimmaged a lot. You just dropped the puck and played," Brind'Amour said. "Now, it's more … you're trying to get ahead of the game by knocking out systems and ideas of how to play. You want to see them compete, not so much against each other because the last thing you want is more injuries. Go play for real against somebody else. There is a lot of competition, and we've said that from day one. From the goalies to the D to the forwards, there's a lot of inner competition for spots and ice time."
Video: Brind'Amour: "We have a plan for these six games"
The Hurricanes' six-game preseason slate begins with a home-and-home, back-to-back set against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"You know the season is close," Niederreiter said. "That's what you're looking forward to."
5. Making the Cut
The Hurricanes assigned three players - Luke Henman, Blake Murray and Jamieson Rees - to their respective junior clubs on Saturday, trimming their camp roster to 48. That number will likely remain constant through the first half of the upcoming week so that the Canes can ice two completely different looks in their first two games of the preseason.
"We're at a good number now. When you have back-to-back games, you don't want to get too thin and have to double up guys too much," Brind'Amour said. "Probably [won't have more cuts] for a couple more days."
It's rinse and repeat once more for the Hurricanes on Monday, with Team Pride on the ice at 8:45 a.m. followed by Team Passion at 10:45 a.m. As always, camp skates are open to the public at PNC Arena, but for those who can't skip out on work, we'll have a Twitter live stream so you don't miss any of the action.