It's not quite October yet, but Carolina Hurricanes hockey is back.
The Hurricanes open their six-game preseason schedule with a home-and-home, back-to-back set against the Tampa Bay Lightning that begins on Tuesday night in Tampa.
"It's fun to start playing games now," Lucas Wallmark said. "We've been waiting for a couple weeks to just play some games. It's just going to be fun to play a game, see where we are and get back into it."
Video: Brind'Amour: "There's certain guys we're looking at"
After four mornings of on-ice work in training camp, the Canes - both the players and the coaches - are ready to drop the puck. Even if it's exhibition action, it's impossible to simulate game action in a training camp practice.
"There's a lot of work still to be done … but guys want to play," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That's where they know they're getting judged. They want as many cracks at it as they can get."
The Canes will send a rather inexperienced crew to Tampa. The trio of Jordan Martinook, Wallmark and Brock McGinn - perhaps the team's fourth line come Opening Night - headlines the group of forwards.
"I'm just going to try to play my game out there," Wallmark said. "I want to build on last year and take another step."
"This is a way to get their feet wet," Brind'Amour said. "There are definitely certain guys we're looking at. We'll give them an opportunity and see what happens."
Video: Pesce: "You look forward to getting back into a game"
The forward line of Janne Kuokkanen, Eetu Luostarinen and Julien Gauthier is an intriguing trio, one that could perhaps be a dangerous weapon in Charlotte, unless one cracks the Canes' roster out of camp.
"We need to put them in situations and see how they perform," Brind'Amour said. "Go earn it. That's the message. They need to get out there."
James Reimer will make his first appearance for the Hurricanes in net. Anton Forsberg will serve as the back-up and may seem some time in the crease, as well.
"The plan right now is probably to split them, but we'll see," Brind'Amour said.
Watch: Hurricanes.com (geo-restricted to local broadcast territory)
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