The Carolina Hurricanes enjoyed the comforts of home over the weekend, shortening what would have been a five-game road trip over nearly two weeks. The team departed for Canada on Monday afternoon, and they will travel through the Western half of the country in the next week-and-a-half.
“It’s going to be fun, actually,” head coach Bill Peters said. “We’ve got to choose our attitude going on the road. We’re going to play four good teams, and they’re going to be hungry also.”
This four-game segment of the Canes’ season-long five-game road trip – one of two on the season – begins in Winnipeg on Tuesday night, where Carolina will face a Jets team coached by Paul Maurice that has dropped four in a row.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Peters said of the Canes, who, at 0-2-2 on the season are still looking for their first victory. “We’ve just got to worry about our game and play real well.”
The trip continues then through Calgary on Thursday, Edmonton on Friday and Vancouver on the following Tuesday.
It’s a long road trip early in the season, not uncommon for the Hurricanes who typically depart Raleigh as the State Fair descends. And for a young team like the Canes, there are benefits to hitting the road for an extended period of time this early in the season.
“Team bonding. It’s a real good trip,” Peters said after practice on Sunday. “We only go back-to-back once. We’re playing some good teams out there, so it will be a good test and a good opportunity for the guys to spend some time together.”
“It’s nice to get on the road early in the year,” forward Jeff Skinner said. “You get all the guys together, and it can be used as a team bonding experience. We’re looking to get on a bit of a roll, so what better way to do it than now?”
Skinner, who has yet to play in the regular season due to a concussion suffered in Washington on Oct. 5, is likely to draw back into the lineup on Tuesday in Winnipeg.
“I feel good. It’s been nice for me to have a few practices under my belt. We’ve had a couple real good days out here, and that’s been good for my confidence,” he said. “I’m ready to get going.”
“He looks hungry and ready to go,” Peters said.
Peters said on Sunday that he expects some of the injured contingent – Andrej Sekera, John-Michael Liles, Nathan Gerbe and Eric Staal – to trickle back into the lineup over the course of the road trip.
“It will be great when we get them back in,” he said. “Anytime we get a chance to get them in, we’ll get them in. We look forward to their addition in the lineup.”
Skinner’s presence could be immediately felt in the team’s group of top six forwards and on a power play that has gone 0-for-5 in the last two games. Skinner skated alongside Swedes Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm in Monday’s practice.
“I think we’re getting better. From my perspective up top, you just look for little things you can do. As a team, we’ve gotten better,” he said. “You look at the last two games that have gone to a shootout, and it goes either way from there; it could have easily been two wins for us. We’ve got to keep getting better and building off those good things.”
“We realize that we can’t win without a full effort,” Peters said. “If we have passengers, we’re going to struggle.”
So off the Canes go to Canada, in search of their first win of the regular season. When asked last week if he had any advice for the rookies hitting the road for an extended period of time, Peters quipped, “Two suits minimum.”
“Energy, passion and compete. We want to really play hard and enjoy it,” he said on Monday afternoon. “We’re going into some great buildings with real good atmospheres. We want to make sure we’re the hardest working team all four nights.”