The Carolina Hurricanes will hit the road Thursday for a trio of preseason games, as they face the Sabres tonight and the Canadiens on Friday (in Quebec City) and Saturday (in Montreal).
As the training camp roster will be whittled down to just one group by next week, these three games could provide some players with a final chance to leave an impression on the coaching staff.
“They key is that we recognize that we only have five [preseason] games left, and that we really want to push the detail part of our game, and I think that’s where we fell apart last night,” Muller said. “We reminded the group today that what we’re looking for tonight is … more attention to detail and a consistent work ethic to compete.”
The Hurricanes’ lineup for Thursday’s tilt in Buffalo includes nine skaters from Wednesday night’s preseason opener: Zac Dalpe, Jeff Skinner, Jeremy Welsh, Nathan Gerbe, Chris Terry, Brett Sutter, Ryan Murphy, Brett Bellemore and Michal Jordan.
“They’re getting the opportunity to play these games,” Muller said of those who are dressing again in a back-to-back scenario.
Also in the lineup tonight are Jordan Staal and Jiri Tlusty, who has been cautiously held back after being crunched along the boards in a scrimmage last Friday.
Though he’s been a winger for most of his NHL career with the Canes, Patrick Dwyer will draw in as the team’s third-line center against the Sabres.
“I know how to do it, and we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “It’s not too hard. It’s a transition that I’m used to”
Don’t expect the move to last long, though. Muller said penciling in Dwyer at center is simply a numbers game.
“We’re a little lighter at center,” he said. “But it gives me a chance to experiment to see Patty there. I know he has played center. But it’s not really anything to read into too much.”
Anton Khudobin will make his Hurricanes debut, as he gets the start in net versus Buffalo. Mike Murphy, who was initially sent down Wednesday evening only to be recalled Thursday morning, will serve as the backup.
Muller said that Cam Ward could get as many as four starts in six preseason games, so it’s likely he’ll see game time either Friday or Saturday. It’s possible a forward like Tuomo Ruutu, who has yet to see a preseason game, will crack the lineup soon, as well.
“They’ll get in, but it’s more giving the other guys an opportunity first to fit them in and make sure they get enough games so they feel like they got a fair shake,” Muller said.
You can follow the Canes in their northern sojourn via @Canes_Gameday, and Chuck Kaiton will have the call nightly on 99.9 The Fan. If you are in RDS viewing territory (or have access to the channel), they will carry the games on Friday and Saturday night.
The Hurricanes will return to Raleigh for an 8 a.m. practice on Monday, and they will round out their preseason schedule with games in Columbus and against Buffalo on Sept. 26 and 27.