WINNIPEG - After opening the 2017-18 regular season with two consecutive home games, it's time once again for the Carolina Hurricanes to jet set for their annual October road trip.
Over this stretch of nine days, the Canes will log over 4,500 miles in the air as they visit four cities in two countries. The road swing begins in Winnipeg before proceeding through Alberta and concluding in Dallas. Compared to recent years, it's not the most strenuous State Fair road trip, not by any means, and it allows a team that's played just two games in the first 10 days of the season to settle in to a rhythm.
"It's a good trip in the fact that we play four good teams," head coach Bill Peters said after practice on Thursday. "We get a little bit of time in between [games] and the travel is not atrocious, so there's going to be no excuses."
Video: Bill Peters: "Love everyone to play"
In addition to proceeding in a more conventional game-every-other-day routine next week, Peters said he also wants to get a look at players who have yet to skate in a game: forwards Martin Necas and Josh Jooris and goaltender Cam Ward, who is expected to start in at least one of the four games on this trip.
"The guys who have been in have played hard and played well," Peters said. "We'll get everyone in at some point on the trip, so we'll find out about our depth."
With the performances of the existing lineup through the first two games, the question becomes: who do you take out? For instance, Necas is a natural center, but the Hurricanes are rather deep at that position for the time being.
"I'd love to see Marty in a game. He's skated real well, especially in the last two days," Peters said after Friday's practice. "He's making a statement with his effort and skill. He's got unreal skill and unreal tempo to his game. That's something we think can help us."
The Hurricanes earned three of a possible four points in their brief homestand. Following a day off on Wednesday with this spacious, early-season schedule, the Canes shifted to Raleigh Center Ice for two days of practice.
"If you don't compete in practice, you get a little rusty in that area," Peters said. "We want to stay sharp and play well."
Video: Justin Faulk: "I don't mind early road trips"
Among those practicing was defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who missed Tuesday's game with a concussion he sustained in the third period of Opening Night. Van Rimesdyk skated briefly with the Canes on Thursday before participating in a full practice in a no-contact sweater on Friday. He won't travel with the team on the trip, though, at least not initially. The team will likely recall a defenseman from Charlotte in order to have a healthy stock of seven blue-liners on the trip.
"We hope to get him at some point, but he won't play tomorrow for sure," Peters said. "There's no sense in being short this time of year, so we'll probably have to make a move."
Hurricanes.com, as always, will have you covered from the road. I'll be providing daily written updates from the various rinks we visit, and any news that will fit in 140 characters or less (unless Twitter would like to double my allotment) can be found at @MSmithCanes. Plus, Mike Maniscalco and I will be CanesCast-ing from the road, so keep your eyes (and ears) open for episode 13 of the official podcast on Monday.