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Gameday: Wild vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

It's time to drop the puck!

Welcome back to the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information you need to know for tonight's 2017-18 regular season opener featuring the Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes. Make Hurricanes.com a regular stop throughout the day, as we update this hub with notes, photos, videos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes will take the ice at PNC Arena for their first morning skate of the regular season at 10:30 a.m. We'll be rinkside, as always, to bring you the latest.

Last updated: 4:45 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
4:45 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco sets the table for Opening Night with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

Video: Tools to Victory: MIN vs CAR


FLEURY, KUOKKANEN TO MAKE NHL DEBUTS ON OPENING NIGHT
1:00 p.m.

As the puck drops on the Carolina Hurricanes' 2017-18 regular season, so too will the puck drop on two players' National Hockey League careers.

Forward Janne Kuokkanen and defenseman Haydn Fleury will both skate in their first NHL games tonight, a moment perhaps made even more special by the emotions and anticipation surrounding Opening Night.

"Oh yeah. All my life I've been dreaming about this," Kuokkanen said. "Now it's today, and I'm really happy."

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IN THE ROOM: JORDAN STAAL & JANNE KUOKKANEN
12:50 p.m.

Newly-named co-captain Jordan Staal spoke with Mike Maniscalco this morning, as did Janne Kuokkanen, who will make his NHL debut at the age of 19.

Video: Jordan Staal: "Excited to get it going"

Video: Janne Kuokkanen: "I've been dreaming about this"


IN THE ROOM: BILL PETERS
12:30 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters is ready to go. It's been a long week in between games for the man heading into his fourth season as the Hurricanes' bench boss, and, like the players, he just wants to play.

Below are some highlights from his availability with the media this morning.

On the atmosphere surrounding Opening Night: "It's time. Guys have put in a lot of good, quality work from the start of camp to this point. It's time to play. We're excited about the opportunity to play. ... It's finally upon us, and we're excited about it."

On if this feels like the beginning of a new era: "It's been three-plus years in the making to get to this point, so I think there's a lot of excitement over the start of the year, and there should be. Every team, all 31 teams, have a lot of excitement at this time of year. We're excited about the changes we made, and now we get to see them take place in a real regular-season game."

On the ability to roll four lines: "It's important we can roll four lines, and it's also important what we can do with the Kruger line. The Kruger line can play against anybody. They're really responsible defensively."

On taming the Wild's offense: "You've got to box out. When they're at their best, they're playing quick in transition through the neutral zone, they release back-post and they grind you offensively with some of those bigger bodies. ... We've got to be efficient in the defensive zone, we got to make sure we cut the back off and get it going the other way. We're going to try to do to them what they try to do to us."

Video: Bill Peters: "Play against anybody"


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
10:30 a.m.

The first morning skate of the 2017-18 season is here!

No surprises in the Canes' lineup tonight. They've practiced with these lines for a couple days now.

Aho-Staal-Lindholm
Teravainen-Rask-Williams
Skinner-Ryan-Kuokkanen
Nordstrom-Kruger-McGinn

Slavin-Faulk
Hanifin-Pesce
Fleury-van Riemsdyk

Darling
Ward

Scratches: Necas (healthy), Jooris (healthy), Dahlbeck (healthy), Stempniak (upper body; IR)

Tweet from @NHLCanes: The first morning skate of the regular season is underway! #MINvsCAR pic.twitter.com/tpvzRdDEIK

More coming from inside the room shortly!


CANES HOST WILD IN SEASON OPENER
12:00 a.m.

The 2017-18 National Hockey League regular season is upon us, and the Carolina Hurricanes host the Minnesota Wild in their long-awaited season opener.

The Canes posted a 5-2 record in their seven-game exhibition season, which was capped off with a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals at home. In the week since, the Hurricanes pared down their roster to 23 players and worked through a checklist of systems concepts and game situations in practice.

"We got a lot done this week," head coach Bill Peters said after a Friday morning skate. "We'll feel good going into tomorrow's game."

For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the Hurricanes will open their 82-game slate at home, and by 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Canes will be the 30th of the NHL's now 31 member clubs to drop the puck on the new season.

"It will be good. Our guys are excited to play," Peters said. "It feels like it's been a long time since we've played, and we're ready."

Jordan Staal, newly minted as co-captain alongside Justin Faulk, will become the first Hurricanes player since his brother, Eric, to wear the "C." Eric will, of course, be lined up on the opposite side of the ice.

"Being able to skate on the ice with the 'C' playing against Eric is going to be cool," Jordan said on Thursday. "He's excited for me, and I'm beyond excited about that. It's just going to make Opening Night even more special."

Goaltender Scott Darling will make his Hurricanes debut in net. He was 2-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in the preseason.

"Very athletic," Peters said. "He really battles on rebounds and seconds and thirds. He covers a lot of net. He's a big man. He's competitive."

Finnish forward Janne Kuokkanen is expected to make his NHL debut. The 19-year-old skated on a line with Derek Ryan and Jeff Skinner in Friday's practice.

"He's just a real good player," Peters said. "He's a real smart player and good defensively, also."

The Wild opened on the road in Detroit on Thursday, a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings in their new building.

"I think you get better as you go and knock off the rust as you go," Peters said of the Wild having already played a game. "It's a little bit of an advantage, but it's not a situation where they're playing a back-to-back."

And so it begins again. Since April, the question du jour wondered if it was October yet. It is now, indeed, and the Hurricanes are set to begin their 20th season in North Carolina.

"Every month is a big month, and every game is important," Peters said. "Ready to go. It's exciting."

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes have earned at least a point in three of their last four meetings with Minnesota. … Jeff Skinner tallied four points (2g, 2a) in two games against the Wild last season. … The average age of the Canes' Opening Night roster is 24.9.


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