When the Canes take the ice tonight to face Nashville in the preseason home opener, a good portion of the team will look familiar come opening night.
What have been the top two lines throughout camp are in the lineup up front, and on the back-end, two of the three pairings will most likely be seen in October, as well.
“It’s kind of a split squad,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “But it’s more of our high-end.”
The third and fourth forward lines comprise young guys fighting for roster spots, save Tim Brent
. Among them are Zach Boychuk
and Drayson Bowman
“I’m not even looking for a guy spiking and having a good practice,” Maurice said. “Now that we’re into the grind, I’m looking for the guys who can maintain what they’re doing.
“They have to believe they deserve to be here. It happened with Jay Harrison
last year. And he is a different man in practice now.”Anthony Stewart
, who has seen a lot of game-situations in terms of scrimmages and a preseason game in Buffalo, will be in the lineup again tonight. As has been the case in camp, he’ll skate on the wing with Jeff Skinner
and Tuomo Ruutu
“Ruutu is a big, strong body who can skate and Skinner is highly-skilled,” he said. “It’s been great so far, and I look forward to playing with them tonight.”
Tonight will be Stewart’s first real-game experience in front of his new home crowd. He said he’s excited to be back on the RBC Center ice, especially after the atmosphere of the Red-White Game.
“If it’s anything like the turnout in the Caniac Carnival, it should be good,” he said. “We got a pretty good lineup in tonight, so we expect to put on a good show and build on things that we’ve been working on since the beginning of camp.”
One aspect of his game that Stewart has been personally focused on is adjusting to the new system in Raleigh, something that has taken time but has been made easier with the assistance of the coaching staff.
“It’s a bit of a challenge and it’s going to take the full three weeks of camp to get used to it,” he said. “The coaching has been great, especially with Rod Brind’Amour pulling me aside for video and working on small things. I think we’re on target to be ready for opening night.”
With the exception of free-agent signee Tomas Kaberle, two of the defensive lines for tonight will be familiar. The third D-line will feature an oft mentioned young pairing from this year’s camp – Justin Faulk
and Ryan Murphy
. The two saw some time together on the power play in Buffalo on Monday night but were in different pairings at even strength.
“I think they need to be seen again,” Maurice said. “They will both play some day. When that is, we’ll see. Experience now is invaluable for them.”
Notes: Patrick Dwyer
worked out with Pete Friesen this morning … He and Chad LaRose
will probably be back on the ice early next week … Derek Joslin
skated twice this morning and was the seventh defenseman in the game group … He missed the beginning of training camp due to illness, but Maurice said his numbers look good … Maurice also said that the coaching staff really liked Joslin’s game at the end of last season, and Joslin figures to be in the mix to grab a spot on the team
Here’s a look at the lineup for the Canes tonight:
Ponikarovsky – Staal – Jokinen
Skinner – Ruutu – Stewart
Terry – Brent – BoychukBrett Sutter
– Nash – Bowman
Pitkanen – Gleason
Kaberle – McBain
Faulk – Murphy