Opening Night is less than a week away, and the Carolina Hurricanes are entering the final stretch of the preseason.
The Hurricanes host the Nashville Predators on Friday night, a rematch of Wednesday's exhibition tilt in the Music City, in the Canes' fifth of six exhibition contests.
Now with 29 players on their training camp roster, the Canes are dressing a near Opening Night look, as final tune-ups begin in the lead up to Oct. 3.
"There are a few guys missing, but other than that, I think it's pretty close," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We're creeping toward the start of the season, and we want to make sure guys are in game shape. That's all part of it, but I don't think you need to run anyone into the ground."
A few noticeable names that are missing include forward Ryan Dzingel and Martin Necas and defenseman Jake Gardiner. Dzingel left Wednesday's game in the second period with a lower-body injury and has not skated with the team since. Brind'Amour said Thursday that it might be longer than a day-to-day situation. Necas, Brind'Amour said, was dealing with some neck stiffness after a hit in practice on Thursday. Additionally, Gardiner has not practiced with the Canes in the last two days.
Video: Brind'Amour: "There's no reason to run guys too hard"
"He's definitely close," Brind'Amour said. "Not quite feeling 100 percent, so just keep him off again."
For the healthy balance of the Canes' roster, it's go time, with 120 minutes of regulation hockey left to rev up the engines before the games count for real.
"Preseason games are about habit. You've got to do it right," Brind'Amour said. "The results, again, aren't as important, but doing it right is important. Whatever your game is, you should be bringing it."
Defenseman Joel Edmundson will make his exhibition debut with the Canes after being acquired from St. Louis on Tuesday. Edmundson, sporting the No. 6, will skate on the left side with Brett Pesce.
"He knows what it takes to win. I love that," Brind'Amour said of his newest blue liner. "That gritty presence that, no secret, we're probably lacking, especially on the back-end, that tough player to play against. We're going to need that out of him, for sure."
Julien Gauthier will go five-for-five in the preseason, as he gets yet another look tonight on a line with Warren Foegele and Erik Haula.
Petr Mrazek will get the nod in net for the Canes and is probable to play the full 60 minutes.
Watch: Hurricanes.com (geo-restricted to local broadcast territory)
Video: LIVE: Predators vs Hurricanes