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Laying the Foundation

Day 2 of camp delves into specifics

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Inasmuch as the first day of Carolina Hurricanes training camp was about nailing down the basics - getting back into the rhythm of how head coach Bill Peters runs a practice and understanding what's expected on a daily basis - the second day of on-ice work delved much further into the specifics.

The structure of the first two days of camp amounts to a laying of a foundation upon which the team will continue to build moving forward. There's another practice day on Sunday followed by a stretch of three preseason games in three nights, layers upon which the 2017-18 Hurricanes will be constructed.

Here are some headlines from Saturday morning's two camp sessions.

The Foundation

The team's systems - how the neutral zone is structured, who goes where on the forecheck, who jumps into the rush on a breakout - were the focus of today's practices.

"We've been skating a lot the first day, so this day was more like how we want to play and stuff like that," sophomore forward Sebastian Aho said. "It feels good to be with the guys on the ice."

Video: Sebastian Aho: "Just play hockey"

"We got some work done again today. I thought some guys continued to look good. Some of the young guys had real good days," head coach Bill Peters said. "Just trying to get a foundation laid here. We play right away."

The on-ice teaching and instruction today was, at times, vocal and emphatic from Peters. If something wasn't right, the whistle would blow, some choice four-letter words might fly around and the team would go through the sequence again.

"It's about doing it right. If there are going to be higher expectations, there have to be higher standards," Peters said. "I thought a lot of guys were good here today."

Moving Along

Team Dineen and Team Kron again skated in 90-minute sessions, each split up by a brief intermission and flood of the ice. The Canes' first preseason match is Monday, so there is work to be done before game action begins.

"We've got a special teams emphasis tomorrow to a certain degree, and then we've got to get a group ready to play in Buffalo," Peters said. "It's coming quick."

Video: Bill Peters: "Getting a foundation"

Ask the players, though, and they'd rather just skip right to the games.

"I'm really looking forward to [the preseason]," Aho said. "It's nice to get there and just play hockey."

"Everyone wants to play games," defenseman Haydn Fleury said. "You always want to play and show your best. Practicing, you need to learn the systems and all that, but I get excited for the games, for sure."

Fleury was one of a number in camp that saw game action just this past week at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich. But even training camp is a step up from that.

"You can tell there's a lot more structure in the game. Traverse City, there's a lot of guys running around trying to make a name for themselves with big hits, fights or playing as fast as they can," he said. "Here, it's a lot more structured and there's a lot more detail. You've got to step up your mental game that much more."

Earning a Spot

The Hurricanes have 59 players in training camp. In a few short weeks, that number will be less than half what it currently it is. Jobs in the NHL are limited and time spent in camp is finite, so players on the bubble have to be opportunistic.

"As a hockey player, you want that pressure," said Fleury, who is among the defensemen competing for a spot with the big club. "I've been putting that pressure on myself the whole summer. Through Traverse City, I just wanted to show that in my play. That pressure, no one is putting it more on me than myself."

Video: Haydn Fleury: "Want that pressure"

"Our NHL lines when they've been together have done a good job showing leadership, doing it right, doing it with pace and executing," Peters said. "All you have to do as a young guy is watch the guys in front of you. If you do that, you've got a good chance to learn and become better."

Forward Martin Necas, selected by the Canes 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, caught some eyes in Traverse City, and he's continuing to do so two days into camp.

"I thought he did some things today that were spectacular. We just added a game to his preseason total," Peters said. "Each time I've seen him, there are things I'm taking away from his game that are very impressive. He's a great young man, and he loves the game. … He's way bigger than people think, which is incredible. He looks big out there. He's not a heavy guy, but he looks big, he plays big and he's powerful. I can't wait to see him play in an NHL exhibition."

What's Next

The Caniac Carnival is set for Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at PNC Arena. The 18th annual event is anchored by two Canes' practices - one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m. - plus an autograph session, a stick sale, food trucks and much more.

Here's a peek at the groups you'll see on the ice tomorrow. You'll notice the first group is way more NHL heavy than the second group, which features mainly depth players.

Video: Jeff Skinner: "Part of the process"

Practices will be shorter on Sunday than they have been the first two days; expect the groups to each remain on the ice for about an hour.

"The pace has been outstanding, especially for this time of year," Peters said. "We've got to get guys in shape, get a little timing down and everything else. You're trying to work on a bunch of different things at the same time to make sure your time together and time on the ice is productive."

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