Three games in four nights are tough in the regular season, never mind in the middle of training camp.
That’s the reality for a small group of players – Drayson Bowman, Riley Nash, Tom Kostopoulos, Patrick O’Sullivan and Bobby Sanguinetti - who will maintain their perfect attendance rate for Hurricanes preseason games tonight against Nashville.
“I’m just excited,” said Sanguinetti, who recorded two assists in the Canes’ 3-1 win Thursday night in Nashville. “(The fatigue) hasn’t really bothered me yet, but that could just be the adrenaline kicking in.”
With the exception of Kostopoulos, who is an established roster player, each player in that group is on a two-way contract and still has something to prove. O’Sullivan has done well in the offensive end, having earned two points in his first two games with a goal against Nashville, but would likely need to play a more complete game before assuring himself of a spot with the Hurricanes.
“Last night he scored a Jussi Jokinen-type breakaway goal with great, moving hands, but the other part of the game was not as intense,” said coach Paul Maurice. “He’s right there, but we have to have a certain intensity level.”
Sanguinetti, who is in competition with the likes of Brett Carson and Jay Harrison for a spot on defense, earned praise from Maurice even prior to setting up the two goals against the Predators. The offensive-minded blue liner supplies something that the rest of the establish group already has in spades, but that seemingly won’t hurt his chances to make the team.
“Ask the team that just won the Stanley Cup,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford of last season’s Chicago Blackhawks. “That was a team with puck-moving, mobile guys, and that’s what we’ve done with our team. We have guys that, when games get tight, they can step up their defense and they don’t get enough credit for that.”
While Sanguinetti hasn’t yet demonstrated that with just five NHL games under his belt, Maurice believes that the talents which helped him scores 42 points at the American league level can also benefit him in his own end.
“We’re really hopeful that he can take some of his offensive skills and use them as a defenseman,” said Maurice. “Skate well, go back and get the puck and make a good, clean first pass. He’s played at the right intensity level, and he’s had a very good camp.”
At a time when Maurice believes veteran players are starting to separate themselves from the inexperienced in terms of their conditioning and energy level, maintaining that intensity will be the biggest test for Sanguinetti and the rest of the exhibition iron men.
“I don’t mind playing again,” said Sanguinetti. “I’ve talked to Mo about it, and he just wants me to bring that same energy.
And if he’s asked to play again on Saturday?
“I’ll play them all if they want me to,” he said, but not before shaking his head at the mere thought.
Full lines for tonight’s game are below. We could have included Justin Pogge in the iron man group as he’s suited up for every game, but he did not play on Friday. That will change tonight as he’s expected to play the entire game.
Also, just to provide more than 20 minutes heads up this time, we ARE planning to have live streaming video of tonight's game online.
Boychuk – Sutter – Kennedy
Jokinen – Skinner – LaRose
Bowman – Nash - Kostopoulos
O’Sullivan – Matsumoto - Blanchard
Gleason – Babchuk
Harrison – Carson
Sanguinetti – Rodney