Although exhibition games don’t matter in the standings, there will be more on the line for some players than others.
While Eric Staal
could be held off the score sheet, post a minus-4 and easily still be the team’s number one center, tonight’s home game against the Nashville Predators is one of few chances that the team’s younger players will have to make a lasting impression.
“It’s an evaluation for some of the young players who haven’t played here regularly,” said Head Coach Paul Maurice. “One, [we want to see] that they’re understanding what we’re trying to do, and two, [we want to] get to know them a little better and what they might be able to offer us is they make our team out of camp or if we bring them up.”
While the Hurricanes plan to dress their top two scoring lines, top defensive pairing and starting goaltender (complete lineup here
), the back end of the roster will be filled with those essentially trying out for NHL spots. Those players range from Brett Carson, Patrick Dwyer
, Jay Harrison
, Bryan Rodney and Michael Ryan – “veteran” prospects, if there is such a thing – to the younger Zach Boychuk
and Brandon Sutter
While those players have their work cut out for them, it will be less strenuous for the established NHL players. Nonetheless, they’ll still be expected to show that they’re fit and playing the way the coaching staff has been instructing them to in the initial part of training camp.
“For the players that we know and that we’ve had on the Hurricanes, [we want to make sure that] that they’re all moving in the directions that we want them to move in,” said Maurice. “We’re not critiquing necessarily individual performances as to whether they’ve made the team or not, but [we want to be] playing in our style and our foundation and the things we’ve worked on in our first five days.”
Much like the Hurricanes will do tonight, the Predators fielded a mix of their top veterans and top prospects for their exhibition opener at home last night, beating an Atlanta team made up of mostly reserves by a 5-0 score. Given that tonight’s game will be the second of back-to-back-to-back games for Nashville (they return home to play Columbus tomorrow), expect the bulk of their NHL roster to stay home for this one.
Of course, they could still bring an exciting prospect or two, as those players are typically given a longer look in the preseason. Center Colin Wilson, drafted seven picks ahead of the Boychuk (seventh overall) in 2008, posted a goal and two assists last night.
You may have already seen this on the site, but we’ve started a “Daily News Clippings” page that we’ll update daily from now on. You can find it under the news tab on the homepage, and I’ll also plan to include them in my morning post on game days. Speaking of which: