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Gameday: Hurricanes at Predators

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
NASHVILLE – It’s that time of year again. Let’s drop the puck!


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 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 be on the ice at Bridgestone Arena at 11:30 a.m. local time, which will be just after noon on the East coast, and we’ll be there to bring you rinkside updates.

Last updated: 4:15 p.m.



HANIFIN READIES FOR FIRST NHL GAME
4:15 p.m.

Noah Hanifin“The Carolina Hurricanes are proud to select, from Boston College, Noah Hanifin,” Ron Francis announced at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015.

Fast forward 105 days, and Hanifin will be making his NHL debut in the Hurricanes’ season opener in Nashville.

The 18-year-old rookie sipped on a drink after his first morning skate, appearing cool, calm and collected less than seven hours away from his first appearance in an NHL regular-season match.

“I’m excited. It was good to get out there and get a little skate in with the guys,” he said. “It’s the first one for me and the team this year, so it should be a pretty exciting night.”

FULL STORY ›



QUOTE 'EM
3:00 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters met with the media after the morning skate, and here's a sampling of what he had to say.

On the opponents and the challenge tonight: "There a good team, and there is a lot of momentum in this building. ... Things are going to go wrong at some point tonight. When they do go wrong, let’s get regrouped quickly and get back to work.”

On the emotions of the season opener: "There’s going to be a lot of emotion in the building, but it works both ways. ... For us, it’s just come out, be who we are, get off to a good start and limit our mistakes.”

On having butterflies: "If you don’t have them, something’s wrong with you. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting time of year.”



BLANK SLATE
12:30 p.m.

The Canes are on the ice for their first morning skate of the 2015-16 regular season.


The stat sheet is blank, as we begin another season anew.




CANES PROJECTED LINEUP
6:00 a.m.

Here is what is expected to be the Hurricanes’ first lineup of the 2015-16 regular season.

Versteeg-E. Staal-Lindholm
Gerbe-J. Staal-Nash
Skinner-Rask-Terry
Nordstrom-McClement-Nestrasil

Eric Staal will remain at center, something at which head coach Bill Peters had an extended look in the preseason.

“We’re deeper. It gives ourselves a little more depth,” he said Wednesday after practice. “That third line, if you want to call it that, is a line that can score now for sure with Skinny and Chris Terry.”

Staal said he feels more comfortable in his natural position.

“It feels real good. I felt like I got better as the preseason went on. I felt more comfortable,” he said. “It’s another level here in the regular season, but I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got some guys who can move the puck on our back-end that I’m looking forward to playing in front of, trying to use my speed and natural instincts to produce.”

Hainsey-Faulk
Liles-Wisniewski
Hanifin-Murphy

HURRICANES at PREDATORS
Hurricanes at Predators
BRIDGESTONE ARENA | 8 p.m.
TV: FOX SPORTS CAROLINAS | RADIO: 99.9 FM
ARTICLES
TWEETMAIL NO. 82: EXCITEMENT & MORE
FAULK NAMED CANES' ALTERNATE CAPTAIN
3-ON-3 PLAYBOOK
VIDEOS
RINK REPORT: OCT. 7
RAW: BILL PETERS
RAW: JUSTIN FAULK
RAW: RON HAINSEY
GAMEDAY LINKS
IN-GAME TWITTER
FIRST GOAL CONTEST
2015-16 SEASON TICKETS
Rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin will make his NHL debut alongside Ryan Murphy.

“He’s an intelligent, humble kid. He’s been excellent for us,” Peters said of Hanifin. “He’s going to have some moments and some situations he’s not comfortable with, but that’s part of it.”

Ward
Lack

Brad Malone and Michal Jordan will be the healthy extras for tonight’s season-opening contest.



HOCKEY RETURNS AS CANES OPEN IN NASHVILLE
6:00 a.m.

Just as the leaves begin to turn and a crisp, cool morning air moves in, a fresh layer of ice freezes in 30 buildings across the United States and Canada.

Yes, it is October, and it’s time to drop the puck on another NHL season.

The Carolina Hurricanes open their 82-game slate in Nashville tonight before returning home to host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

“It’s just the build-up and energy. In every building there’s a great atmosphere,” captain Eric Staal said before the Canes were wheels up to Nashville. “We look forward to our rink on Saturday, but in an opposing rink, it’s just the energy and excitement of the start of the year. A lot of build up over the course of the summer in training and getting ready. It’s finally here. It’s a fun time for everybody.”

As a season begins anew, the Hurricanes are hoping to avoid the haunts of one October ago, when they posted a winless 0-6-2 record. The team now brings a four-game preseason winning streak into the games that count.

“We can carry the way we’ve had camp. We’ve had a good camp,” head coach Bill Peters said after practice Tuesday. “Our guys have gotten better, and our young guys continue to improve. I think our veteran guys are excited.”

“Winning is good any time you get on the ice. It makes it a lot more fun when you get to the rink every day,” Staal said. “We know that we’re 0-0 to start the year tomorrow, but it’s a good feeling to know we’ve got a capable group in here. We look forward to the challenge of this season and getting off to a good start.”

In the offseason, the Hurricanes supplemented their roster with a number of key pieces, including Kris Versteeg, James Wisniewski and Eddie Lack. And with those changes, a new, refreshed energy is apparent in the locker room.

“We’ve got a good energy in this room. That’s been the case right from the start of training camp,” Staal said. “We’ve added some other guys and we’ve got some younger guys who are another year older, a little more confident, a little more comfortable in their own skin and opening up a bit more. That’s huge. We know what we have, and we look forward to hopefully showing it to the rest of the league.”

“Right now with the team there’s a good feeling in the room. Even though things haven’t gone our way in the past, guys are up, feeling good and excited to come to the rink every day to get better and put in the work,” Justin Faulk said. “Not saying that wasn’t there in years before, but it’s definitely noticeable that guys are having fun right now. I think that’s what you need to have.”

“It energizes you. You come to work, and you’re excited to be at work,” Peters said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen for sure. You’re on your toes a little bit. Maybe there are some jokes or pranks being pulled, I’m not sure. But have some fun with it. Enjoy it. Winning is the best team-builder you can have, and we did a little bit of that in the preseason. Now we want to get off to a good start.”

Getting off to a good start begins tonight in Nashville, the Canes lone trip to the music city to face a Predators squad that finished with 47 wins and 104 points in the 2014-15 campaign.

“They’re a good team. They’re a deep team,” Peters said of the competition. “They’re real fast and aggressive on the forecheck. We’ve got to make sure we’re getting back to pucks quickly and executing in order to leave our zone.”

As is the case seemingly every October, the Canes have once again been looked over by hockey pundits who offer their best guesses on how the season shakes out. So? Fate isn’t determined with a few keystrokes.

As it’s said, that’s why they play the games.

“Playing this game for as long as I have and hopefully for a lot longer, you still get those little butterflies for every night,” Staal said. “Opening Night is even more special, and I don’t take for granted every day I’m playing this game. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Game on.


Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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