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Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Senators

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
While the Hurricanes are eager to get back into game action after a few good days of practice, this game day will be anything but typical for their Wednesday opponent – the Ottawa Senators.

Paul Branecky
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The Senators were originally planning to be in Raleigh Monday night but will instead arrive just hours before game time. Their change in plans is due to the team’s decision to return home and attend the memorial service for Daron Richardson, the 14-year-old daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson, who passed away over the weekend.

It’s a highly unorthodox schedule for a team to have in any circumstances, much less with the obvious hardships and heavy emotions that go into a day like this.

“The significant challenge that they’re going through can galvanize a team,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “I think it did for them in Boston on the day of the news (a 2-0 win on Saturday). It’s clearly an incredibly difficult thing for a team to go through, but I don’t think you can expect to see a team that’s not closer together when they come to our building tonight.”

After opening the season with just one win in their first six games, a home victory against Carolina on Oct. 14, the Senators have put together a nice run of five wins over their last seven contests. However, it’s unclear as to what effect the recent tragedy will have on their on-ice performance, as they suffered a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia following their big win in Boston – a game that coach Cory Clouston called a “big letdown” emotionally.

For the Hurricanes, they’ll be hoping to come out with a renewed sense of intensity, particularly on the defensive end, following consecutive lopsided losses to Philadelphia and Montreal. Having been off since Saturday, they’ve used the break to get back to the kind of tough practices that they had been unable to hold during the busier portion of their schedule.

“It’s a great reminder for our players but for the coaches as well – you always want to make bigger steps,” said Maurice. “You want to look at the Florida and Edmonton games and feel like you’re further along in the teaching curve than you are, and then you get a little dose of reality and realize that, especially this year, you have to spend an awful long time on the foundations of the game.”

Tuesday waiver acquisition Troy Bodie was at the morning skate but will not be in the lineup against Ottawa, although he is expected to play in the team’s next game in Pittsburgh on Friday. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound right wing had a busy day yesterday and did not get much sleep due to jet lag from Anaheim, and will thus get more time to settle in before suiting up with the Canes.

“It was a whirlwind 24 hours and a lot of emotions going through,” he said. “When I was told I got claimed by Carolina I was excited.  It’s a great hockey city with a history of a Stanley Cup. I’m excited to be here.”

When he does play, coaches will ask the 25-year-old to bring a physical presence to the Hurricanes’ fourth line.

“He’s certainly bigger than a lot the guys we have up front, and he certainly moves pretty well once he gets going,” said Maurice.

In something of a strange occurrence across the small world of hockey, the only member of the organization Bodie knew coming in was Jiri Tlusty, a teammate from the Toronto Marlies last season. However, they only played a handful of games together before Tlusty was traded to Carolina in exchange for Philippe Paradis.

“Sometimes you bring a guy in and he knows six guys he’s played with and it’s real easy for him, but these are all new faces, all new names, all new names and new coaches,” said Maurice. “It’s a little bit overwhelming.”

Bodie now becomes the first Hurricanes player on Twitter and can be found @TroyBodie. However, he’s only made three tweets since May, and admits to not having a full understanding of how it works, saying that his girlfriend suggested he join. He added that he only reactivated his account two days ago.

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