NASHVILLE - CMA Awards out, hockey in!
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's match-up between the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
The Hurricanes will hold an 11:30 a.m. local time morning skate at Bridgestone Arena, so we'll have rinkside updates right here around lunch time on the East Coast.
Last updated: 3:30 p.m.
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
Mike Maniscalco brings you tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.
1. Stay Out of the Box
Nashville has scored 12 power play goals this year, almost half of the total goals they've scored (26). The Canes have only allowed four man-advantage goals this season, but keep this a 5-on-5 game.
2. Control the Neutral Zone
The team that forces the other into mistakes at center ice will be off to the races. Both defenses can move the puck and can hit the stretch pass. Contain the middle of the rink, and don't allow the transition game to open.
3. Drive the Net
This makes life tough on the defense and the net-minder. When a shot comes in, the forwards have to take away the space that the goalie wants to work with.
STEMPNIAK SET FOR NO. 800
Lee Stempniak, who is in his 12th NHL season, will play in his 800th career game tonight. He's logged 426 points (188g, 238a) with 10 different teams in his career.
I caught up with the 33-year-old forward this morning.
On game No. 800: "It's obviously gone by very quickly. I remember dreaming about playing your first game and then playing your first game, trying to become a regular, scoring your first goal. It's been a lot of fun. Hockey has taken me places I never would of imagined going before. You hope there's a lot of hockey left. It's been a whirlwind to say the least."
On experiences in 799 games with 10 different teams: "Just playing in a lot of different places, you experience different things, meet different people, play with a lot of different players. One of those experiences is getting to play on a line with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh for a playoff run, playing in the first playoff series in Winnipeg after the team came back, things like that that jump out. There's a lot of difficult things with moving around from team to team, but there are also some positives."
On memorable moments in his career: "Scoring my first NHL goal was something I'll always remember. Just playing in a lot of different buildings against different players. I scored a goal against Dominik Hasek who was someone, growing up in Buffalo, that everyone idolized. Got to play against Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom, guys who were larger than life growing up. Things like that are really memorable experiences. I've been lucky enough to score two hat tricks, and those jump out too. Hopefully there's a bigger team goal coming in winning the Stanley Cup. It's just been a collection of great memories so far."
INSIDE THE MORNING SKATE
Some stills from the Canes' morning skate at Bridgestone Arena.
Head coach Bill Peters spoke with us after the Canes' morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. Here are the highlights from what was discussed.
On facing Nashville: "They've got a very active D corps. Most teams in the league are starting to go that way, so it's every night that you've got to make sure you're containing their D. They're active in the rush and in zone. They get a lot of offense out of their D men."
On managing the energy the Predators will have coming back home: "There's always energy in this arena. I've always found it's a momentum rink. When things get going, they go good for them for a while. You have to make sure you don't spiral out of control. There are going to be things that happen that aren't perfect, but you have to respond the right way. If you lose a shift, you have to come back and squash that momentum by winning the next shift. It's no different after goals."
On building off Tuesday's game in Ottawa: "We just want to play the same way with a little bit more finish in the offensive zone, a little better execution on the power play. 5-on-5 I really liked our game."
On Jeff Skinner: "He's playing very hard. He's hard on pucks, he's tracking pucks, he's stripping guys from behind. He's got the ability to score. He's a goal-scorer, that's what he is."
CANES PROJECTED LINEUP
Head coach Bill Peters and his staff tinkered with the Canes' lines in practice on Thursday, but on Friday the combinations were again familiar. Peters said the team would start with this set-up tonight.
CANES HEAD TO NASHVILLE IN PREDATORS' HOMECOMING
It's early November, but the Carolina Hurricanes are well aware of the importance of their immediate schedule, beginning with Saturday's match-up with the Nashville Predators in Music City.
At 2-4-3 with seven points in the standings, the Hurricanes are looking upward in the Eastern Conference with ground to make up - and fast.
By next week, when the Hurricanes begin a five-game homestand, they will have already played over 20 percent of their road schedule just a month into the season.
"The guys are a very intelligent group. They know where we're at," head coach Bill Peters said after practice on Thursday. "We also know at some point when we get to playing at home that we've got to take advantage of that."
The focus now is on Nashville, the first game of a back-to-back set that then sends the Canes back home to face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
"Two good [practice] days," Peters said after Friday's skate at Raleigh Center Ice. "We want to build off a good effort in Ottawa and go from there."
That game in Ottawa, a 2-1 overtime loss on Tuesday night, was what Peters called the Canes' most consistent effort of the young season. But for the third time in nine games, Carolina could not come away with the extra point in extra hockey.
"We have to have a little more ability to finish. A lot of the overtimes when we look at them, there's a chance, a grade-A at one end and it goes down the other way and all of sudden it's in the net," Peters said. "You've got to have that ability as a player to be a game changer and when you get the opportunity, finish the game."
Ryan Murphy returned to the lineup in Ottawa after missing the Canes' first eight games with a lower-body injury. Murphy, paired with Noah Hanifin, logged 13:48 of ice time, two takeaways and one blocked shot.
"I thought he skated well and moved the puck. I thought there was some chemistry there," Peters said. "They need to be a puck-moving pair for us."
Just before the Hurricanes landed in Nashville on Friday afternoon, the Predators touched down in their home city after spending more than a week on the West Coast, where the team posted a 1-2-2 record in five games. At 3-5-2 with eight points in the standings, the Predators rank 13th in the Western Conference.
CANESPR NOTES: Lee Stempniak is slated to skate in his 800th career NHL game tonight. … The Hurricanes have earned points in six of their last 10 games against the Predators (4-4-2), dating back to Nov. 2010, but the Predators have won six of the last eight games played at Bridgestone Arena.
CLICKS AND CLIPPINGS