Although the Canes’ lineup on Thursday will be dominated by veterans, a few younger and not-yet-established players will be getting a second chance to make an impression.
Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash and Patrick O’Sullivan will be suiting up for the second consecutive exhibition game, this time in Nashville. Not that all four of those players seemed nervous during the first go-around, but added experience should help things go at least a little more smoothly.
“I am expecting a more dominant game by our center ice,” said Maurice of a group that will again include Dalpe and Nash from the first game but adds the organizational top two of Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter. “When you put four young guys in their very first pro hockey experience, they’re trying to process so much on the ice and not make mistakes.”
Prior the first game, Maurice had advised the rookies not to worry and just play their game, but as it turned out, that concept is easier said than done.
”Everybody coming into their first game with NHL players puts pressure on themselves,” said Staal. “Guys probably grip their sticks a little too hard, but just that comes around with the more time you spend on the ice at camp.”
Due to preseason ice conditions in southern markets and the continuing grind of training camp, Maurice said that he wasn’t necessarily expecting a huge upgrade in the overall quality of play for both teams in Nashville.
“Even if they put all their best guys out, I’m not sure we’re going to be snapping it around that ice,” he said.
However, he does feel that some players may be beginning to turn the corner from tired legs to full fitness.
“The group this morning was the first sign that their legs might be coming back to them again,” he said. “I was really kind of pleased maybe more than any other day because I looked at a few of them and thought, ‘Hey, those guys are surviving,” because there’s the other end of it where there are guys that can’t recover.”
Contrary to yesterday’s plan, Maurice said that Justin Peters would likely get the full game in goal tonight, with Justin Pogge backing up. He added that Pogge, who has impressed him in camp, would likely play a complete game at home on Friday when the team will again be mostly made up of roster hopefuls.
Samsonov – Staal – Ruutu
Jokinen – Sutter – Cole
Bowman – Dalpe – Kostopoulos
O’Sullivan – Nash – Dwyer