It may just be the preseason, but the Carolina Hurricanes are back in action tonight in Tampa.
The Hurricanes kick off their six-game 2018 preseason schedule with a back-to-back, home-and-home set against the Lightning.
"I think everybody in this room is pretty excited. It's been a long summer," Brock McGinn said. "When you're just training, you feel like you're not playing for anything. Just to get out there and play in a game is a big jump for this team."
Among other debuts, tonight will mark Rod Brind'Amour's first game behind the bench as head coach of the Hurricanes.
"I think everybody wants to play well for him," McGinn said. "When he played, he battled. If we go out there and use the energy he'll bring on the bench, it will definitely benefit us."
Video: Brock McGinn: "Lead by example"
What is the first-year head coach looking to take away from preseason game No. 1?
"I want to see, number one, that we're competitive on all pucks and a couple little things we've talked about all training camp. That's the number one focus," Brind'Amour said. "And then, again, we're looking for individuals to stand out a little bit. That's really, at the end of the day, what we need to find out: Who can play?"
Training camp is a step up from summer training, but preseason is another step up from that. After all, it's tough to replicate game action in the structured confines of a practice.
"You can't really simulate it," McGinn said. "So, it's just getting out there, getting into the play and getting hit every once in a while. When you get out and do that, it benefits the team, and everyone gets going."
The Canes will send a young group to Tampa, a lineup that features just a handful of NHL "veterans." Jordan Martinook, who has played in 247 games, is the most experienced of the group up front, while Trevor van Riemsdyk, who has 237 games under his belt, is the leader on the back-end.
"I'm sure it will be eye-opening for our guys, and the pace will be good," Brind'Amour said. "It will be nice to get one under our belt and get some clips of our guys so we can start teaching off of live stuff."
Andrei Svechnikov will make his Hurricanes preseason debut, skating on the right wing on a line with Valentin Zykov and Lucas Wallmark.
"I remember the nerves and everything. Hopefully he has a good start, but one way or another, how it goes, it's not going to be the be-all-end-all," Brind'Amour said of Svechnikov. "He's a young kid with a lot to learn. It's a process."
The team's second line, featuring Brock McGinn, Martinook and Phil Di Giuseppe should bring an element of physicality paired with the threat to score.
"I'll just go out there and play my game, not change up the way I play," McGinn said. "Just go out there and lead by example. I think that will really help out the young guys."
Petr Mrazek will make his first appearance for the Hurricanes in net. Alex Nedeljkovic will serve as the back-up and could see time in the crease, but that game plan is still to be determined.
"We need to get [Mrazek] going, so whatever he needs," Brind'Amour said.
Watch: Hurricanes.com (geo-restricted to local broadcast territory)
Listen: 99.9 The Fan