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Gameday: Hurricanes at Jets

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Time to drop the puck on a new hockey season!

Welcome back to the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's regular-season opener between the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets 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 be on the ice at MTS Centre at 11:30 a.m. local time, which will be just after noon on the East Coast, and we'll be rinkside to bring you updates.

Last updated: 4:35 p.m.

4:35 p.m.

Here are tonight's three Tools to Victory presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

1. Settle In

It's Opening Night, and MTS Centre is going to be electric as the hometown crowd looks to spark the Jets early. It's going to be crucial for the Hurricanes to settle into the game and not let emotions dictate the pace of play either way. The easiest way to do that? Score early and take the crowd out of it.

2. Be Special

Win the special teams battle and win the game. It sounds simple and cliche, and it may be both. But if the Hurricanes can stay out of penalty trouble and connect on a power play or two (look out for that Aho-Lindholm-Teravainen trio), they should be in good shape.

3. Fin(n)ish Him

The Canes' rookie winger downplayed the match-up, but fellow Finns Sebastian Aho and Patrik Laine will share the ice tonight in their first NHL regular season action. Their World Junior Championship linemate Jesse Puljujarvi scored in his NHL debut last night with Edmonton. Will one of Laine or Aho do that tonight? And perhaps more importantly, who will walk away with two points for their respective team?

4:15 p.m.

Along with the rest of the hockey world, Sebastian Aho watched in amazement as rookie forward Auston Matthews scored four goals in his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Now it's Aho's turn to make his NHL debut tonight with the Carolina Hurricanes - and his teammates made known what they'd like to see.

"We expect five goals!" the room teased the 19-year-old winger. Aho could only smile.


3:15 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media at MTS Centre after his team's morning skate. Here's a bit of what was discussed.

On the mood of the team ahead of puck drop: "I think they're excited to get started. I think the preseason gets long for guys, and I think the guys at the World Cup have been going at it for a long time. Finally to be playing NHL games that matter and points in the standings that are important."

On the new faces on offense: "We made an effort to get bigger, faster and a little bit more offensive with guys who can finish plays off."

On the additions on defense: "The signing of Nakladal gives us an older guy, a right-handed shot which allows us to go lefty-righty in all three pairs. Dahlbeck off waivers gives us a guy who's played 71 games in the NHL. If we didn't have that, with the Murphy injury, we'd be playing Roland McKeown tonight, which isn't fair to Roly. That's now what we want to do. We want guys to be able to go play in the American League and come up when they're ready."

On how hard it was to keep Phil Di Giuseppe out of the lineup: "Real hard. ... He doesn't need waivers to go down, so he's an easy guy to send down but he's earned the opportunity to start with us. Now we have to make sure that when he gets into the lineup, we're playing him enough minutes, or is he going to benefit more by playing in the American League, playing 18-20 minutes a night in all situations? That's something that we'll talk about, Ronnie and myself, and we'll make sure we do the right thing short-term and long-term."

12:30 p.m.

Here's how the Hurricanes lined up in their first morning skate of the 2016-17 season.




Phil Di Giuseppe, Martin Frk and Roland McKeown appear to be the healthy extras for tonight.

Much more coming from inside the Canes' room at MTS Centre here soon!

12:00 a.m.

The temperature is dropping. The leaves are beginning to change. It's that time of year again, and hockey season is upon us.

The Carolina Hurricanes open the 2016-17 campaign with their longest road stretch of the year: six consecutive games away from Raleigh over 13 days, and it begins tonight in Winnipeg against the Jets.

"I think it's a great opportunity to get out on the road and spend some time together as a team," head coach Bill Peters said after practice at Raleigh Center Ice on Wednesday.

"The trip at the start of the season is always big. You want to come off it starting well and feeling good about yourself," Jordan Staal said. "This trip is a big one for us. We want to play well. We need to play well and find a way to get points."

With a new season comes a renewed sense of optimism. And this season, there is perhaps good reason to believe the Hurricanes can return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"I'm comfortable with where we're at," Peters assessed this week. "I thought Roddy, Smitty, Dave and those guys did a great job in preparation here. I liked our preseason. I liked the pace, and I like how hard we've worked."

Compared to a season ago, the Hurricanes look a bit different up front, with five new faces among the twelve forwards expected to dress. Among the newcomers are Finns Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg and Lee Stempniak.

"You can tell we have a young eagerness in the group. We have more skill and speed," Staal said. "I'm excited about the news guys we have in the group and like the way we're headed."

The defense and goaltending tandem is largely the same from a season ago. Klas Dahlbeck is the newbie in the group, having been claimed by the Hurricanes off waivers on Tuesday before arriving in Raleigh to practice with the team on Wednesday.

"We're not in that situation anymore where we have to force-feed guys into the lineup," Peters said. "Now we can make some intelligent choices, and the guys we bring in are going to be able to help."

In sum, the organization's depth - both with the players currently on the roster and those being groomed to take the next step in Charlotte - is perhaps as good as it has been in recent memory.

"We've never been this deep in my time here in Carolina," Peters said. "I like the infusion of skill."

That's the assessment on paper, and now the Hurricanes will look to translate it to wins on the ice.

"Good teams find a way to win no matter what, and in the end that's what we have to do," Staal said.

Game on!




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