It may be the beginning of the weekend, but Carolina Hurricanes training camp is just getting going, as the 57 players were back on PNC Arena ice Saturday morning.
Here are four observations from the second day of on-ice action at PNC Arena.
1. Training Camp Today
Over the last two days, a few players have noted how training camp has evolved over the years. Training camp today, they say, isn’t about working to get up to speed; players are already skating and practicing at a high level thanks to vigorous summer training regimens on and off the ice.
“Nowadays, everyone comes into camp in top shape and ready to go,” Jeff Skinner said on Friday. “As soon as camp starts, everyone is going full speed.”
“It’s definitely changed over the years. Nowadays with training, nutrition and off-ice and the knowledge that goes into everything, guys are ready to go right when camp opens,” Eric Staal said. “There’s a lot of pre-camp skating, so you can get out there.”
Even still, it’s not as if conditioning hasn’t been a focus of the practice sessions in camp thus far. There has been talk and execution of systems, of course, but each skate has wrapped up with a good bit of skating.
“It’s been good this first couple of days,” Staal said. “We’ll get better every day and look forward to the preseason games.”
For the coaching staff and front office, training camp is about teaching and evaluating. For the players, training camp is about ramping up for the season and making what they hope will be a lasting impression.
“I remember being young and nervous, and there’s some of that too. I know what they’re going through,” Staal said. “You’ve got to give a tap or a pick up and make them feel comfortable. I think the guys have done a good job with that.”
“I’ve been in their shoes. I started playing in the NHL, I think, when I was 21, so I know what it takes,” James Wisniewski said on Friday. “For these guys, I know it’s nerve-wracking coming in. They want to make the team, and there are some spots open.”
A first round of cuts looms in the days ahead, as the Hurricanes will slim their group down to two groups by Wednesday. A Sunday intra-squad scrimmage followed by two preseason games in two days may be the make or break moment for a handful of prospects. And even if their time doesn’t come this season, they can continue to make impressions away from Raleigh, looking ahead to next season.
Indeed, there are always watchful eyes.
“It’s really all the time,” Peters said. “The evaluation process is forever ongoing.”
We got a brief glimpse of 3-on-3 play today at the tail end of a scrimmage between Team B and Team C, and here’s what I noticed (as if this is anything new): there is a lot of open room, and pretty much every rush up the ice ends up being an odd-man opportunity.
“Yeah, don’t fall down because if you do that, you’re giving up a chance the other way,” Staal said.
Noted 3-on-3 specialist Sergey Tolchinsky was, of course, on the ice when this affair began. And, not surprisingly, he scored one of the two goals, going five-hole on a breakaway.
“He’s a shifty little guy that can move,” Staal said.
“He’s been very good, and he’s a guy that’s definitely trending in the right direction,” Peters said.
Justin Faulk recorded the other tally, going top-shelf after Kris Versteeg was turned away on a break.
In short, 3-on-3 is flat-out fun to watch. And early reviews from inside the locker room give it thumbs up, as well.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting to see once we start the regular season and watch some of the talent in this league go to work in 3-on-3 because there’s a lot of it,” Staal said. “It’ll be fun. There will be a lot of chances, and I don’t think we’re going to see many shootouts after watching some of that.”
4. Red-White Scrimmage
Up next in training camp: the Red-White scrimmage, the keynote feature of Sunday’s Caniac Carnival.
The scrimmage lineups will feature a mainly younger contingent with just a sprinkling of veteran presence. That is by design with evaluation in mind.
“It’s a good opportunity for those guys to make an impression. They’re going to play in a structured game,” Peters said. “Guys have got enough of a foundation now that we should be able to see some of the things that we’ve worked on in the games and who has picked up on how we play. … It’s another opportunity to make a positive impression.”
How much physicality is expected?
“Well, it’s hockey, so you decide,” Peters smiled.
The Carnival fun gets going at 10 a.m., and the Red-White scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m. A complete schedule of events plus more details can be found here.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email