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Hurricanes Ramping Up in Camp

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

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Aside from the order in which the two groups skated, there wasn't much different about the on-ice work of day two compared to day one in Carolina Hurricanes training camp.

There was whiteboard instruction. There were drills. There was systems talk. There was a focus on special teams. There was a scrimmage. And work got done.

"It feels good. It feels like there are a lot of guys competing for spots," goaltender Eddie Lack said. "Everyone is super focused. It's nice to see the guys again and how much everyone has developed over the summer. It's been good so far."

Systems Now

Wearing the head coaching hat on Saturday was Canes assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour. And since he was the on-ice instructor, he also held court with the media at the conclusion of the day, and he explained the direction behind these early days of camp.

"It's a little bit monotonous in what we're doing. It's just systems, and we're trying to give them a lot of information," he said. "We haven't seen a lot of battle yet. We haven't done any of those drills. We're just giving them as much information as we can to get that out of the way and ramp it up as we go. That's what Bill (Peters) wanted us to do."

Video: Rod Brind'Amour: "Big camp for a while"

This plan was set in motion prior to Peters leaving for the World Cup. While he's away, he's entrusted Brind'Amour and Steve Smith with manning the helm.

"We talked before he left. No Skyping. We don't need to see him every minute," Brind'Amour joked. "We were prepared when he left, and he said, 'Don't bug me unless you need to.' He's focused on that, but he's checking in with us all the time just to make sure everything is going the way he wanted it to. It's not rocket science."

So far, so good.

"I'm excited. It's a good group of guys," newcomer Bryan Bickell said. "This is a little different for me after being with the Blackhawks for nine or 10 years. It's a good change, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited for the opportunity and hopefully I can take advantage of it."

Battle Soon

There hasn't been much contact or battle just yet. That's coming, though - and soon.

On Sunday, 32 players will compete the in the team's annual Red-White scrimmage, one of the main attractions of the Caniac Carnival.

"We're going to have some more battle," Brind'Amour said. "We've still got a couple things to cover as a team, just to make sure we've got our bases covered. But now we're gearing up."

"Everything is going to get better and quicker as camp goes along," Bickell said. "That's what our goal is: to get ready for that first game."

Video: Bryan Bickell: "Inches away from playoffs"

It's going to be a young scrimmage, with only a handful of the participants having played games in the NHL. In fact, Phil Di Giuseppe is the wily veteran of the group, so to speak, with all of 41 NHL games played.

Team Red features 2016 first-round draft picks Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier, and Di Giuseppe, Brock McGinn, Derek Ryan and Brendan Woods bring some NHL experience to the squad. Opposite, Team White is backstopped by Traverse City victors Alex Nedeljkovic and Callum Booth and features the Russian duo of Sergey Tolchinsky and Valentin Zykov.

"There are always one or two spots, and it might even be the extra forward or extra D. There's stuff available for guys, but it's hard to see in [practices]," Brind'Amour said. "You've got to play the games."

"I feel like the young guys are flying, the ones that were out there winning the tournament," Lack said. "That's obviously fun to see. They're bringing a lot of energy and getting the older guys up."

Video: Eddie Lack: "Feeling agile again"

The Road Ahead

Following Sunday's scrimmage, the Canes' preseason slate opens on Monday in Washington followed by a Tuesday night tilt in Tampa Bay.

Monday also likely marks the first on-ice day for forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, who arrived in Raleigh on Friday after Team Finland was eliminated from World Cup contention.

What about the first cuts of camp?

"That's up to Ronnie and Bill. Until Bill gets here, that's tough to say. He wants to see everybody. I'm hearing he wants to keep as many as we can," Brind'Amour said. "We have a lot of games in a short amount of time, and you want to give as many people as you can opportunities. I'm assuming it will be a pretty big camp for a while."

Until then, more instruction and more learning, and the competition will only intensify the closer the calendar gets to Oct. 13.

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