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'Recovery Day' Breaks Up Intensity

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes

Following their first win of the preseason, the Carolina Hurricanes had two light-hearted skates today that saw the defenseman and forwards split up into two groups.

Michael Smith
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All defenseman still on the training camp roster were on the ice at 9:15 this morning with Cam Ward and Brian Boucher in the net. There was a lot of focus on shots from the point, and one drill featured push-ups as a punishment for missing the net.

“We needed a bit of a recovery day,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “The defensemen in today’s practice handled the puck more than they would in 10 regular practices. So it was all about skill development and working the puck and their feet.”

After coming off an illness, Derek Joslin should be in the lineup Wednesday night in Winnipeg. Joslin will be paired with Jamie McBain in tomorrow’s second skate, a pairing that could carry over to the preseason re-match with the Jets.

“I’ve been itching to get at it,” Joslin said. “I’ve been feeling really good for the past week, and I’ve been working hard.

“I missed a week, but I wasn’t just at home doing nothing,” he said. “I was at [Raleigh Center Ice] skating and working out. It’s not a game situation, but I stayed in shape, and I’m back now skating with the guys, doing battle drills and getting myself ready.”

With Joslin back in the mix, the battle for a defensive spot has gotten more competitive, but Joslin is confident that his play from last season and work thus far in camp will give him the edge.

After coming over from San Jose in February, Joslin played in 17 games for the Hurricanes down the stretch. In that period, he recorded five points (1g, 4a), was plus-seven and regularly logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game.

“I’m a year stronger. For the past three years with San Jose I was that bubble guy,” he said. “I think I handled that well. I came in last year and helped the team as best I could to make that playoff push. This year, confidence wise, I feel good.”

All forwards took the ice around 10:15, and just like the defensive group, they concluded practice with a shootout. The losers had to do push-ups while the winners stood over them and watched, a jocular moment in an otherwise intense camp.

“Today’s practice, I wanted them feeling light,” Maurice said. “They did have a hard off-ice workout, and tomorrow we’ll get back to some intensity.

“There was something on the line today, and that’s when they had a little bit of fun,” Maurice said of the shootouts. “Some unusual moves, to say the least.”

After saying Anthony Stewart had the best game of his preseason, Maurice had an extended conversation with the forward at center ice during practice.

“I liked his game last night. I thought he was on the puck a lot more,” Maurice said. “He’s so fast as a big man – unusually fast – especially in his first 30-40 feet. I thought he used that speed very effectively last night.”

“I felt light on my feet. I’m feeling more confident with the puck every game that I’ve been playing so far,” Stewart said. “The hands usually come second to me and the legs are always going. I’m almost hitting game-stride here.

“I have to get in on the forecheck and make some room for the smaller forwards. The more space they have, the more successful they’ll be.”

Tomorrow’s skates are slated for 9 and 11 a.m. before the team heads off to Winnipeg in the early afternoon.

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