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Returning Players Helping Push Pace

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Even though the venue and the groups had changed, the tempo at Hurricanes training camp remained remarkably high in the second day of training camp.

Sunday’s skate took place at the RecZone, with groups now featuring an equal mix of veteran Hurricanes and those hoping to make the team out of the gates. Each session again ran to about an hour and a half of drills, including some hard-hitting work along the boards and in the corners.

Paul Branecky
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“It’s maybe even increased (today) because there were even more compete battles,” said coach Paul Maurice of day two’s intensity. “I liked yesterday, I thought it was good, but I was really happy with today.”

“It’s crazy out there. It’s a battlefield,” said Zach Boychuk. “Yesterday I got hammered by Tim Gleason harder than I’ve ever been hit in a game.”

As rough as it’s been thus far, that’s exactly what the coaching staff has wanted to see. Shoving matches and charges to the goal crease that might result in a drop of the gloves during a regular-season game are being rewarded by stick taps and atta-boys from the group wearing track suits.

“A key focal point for our success this year is how hard we compete on pucks,” said Maurice. “We’ve built it into our drills, and they’ve responded.”

Maurice credited the pace both to veteran leadership and youthful eagerness, the latter of which has allowed the coaches to push the team a little harder (“Younger guys heal faster,” he said). He also noted that players like Boychuk who experienced a taste of the NHL last year have come back better prepared.

“I skated a lot more this summer than last summer and worked a lot with a power skating coach,” said Boychuk, who spent the off-season working out with NHL'ers Mike Green and Duncan Keith in his home province of Alberta. “That’s one of the things I wanted to work on, and I feel a lot better out there now.”

Despite the hit he received from Gleason on Saturday – one that Caniacs in attendance will surely remember – Boychuk impressed in the second day while skating mostly with Eric Staal and Jerome Samson. Another player in a similar situation, Drayson Bowman, has also come back in better shape this season and did well with Riley Nash and Tuomo Ruutu on his line.

There may or may not be room for both of them on opening night, but that’s a good problem for the Hurricanes to have.

“The returning players and guys who had partial time here last year came back and look a lot different,” said Maurice.

The full groups from Sunday’s practices can be found below. They are expected to remain the same on Monday before splitting into game and non-game groups to face Florida at the RBC Center the following day.

“Now we really get to see a separation between the younger players and the older players,” said Maurice of the mixed groups. “We can tell them all summer how hard they’ve got to work, but when you’re trying to keep up with Cole, outmuscle Staal or beat Gleason, now you’ve got an understanding of where you’re at.”

Maurice said that Tuesday’s game lineup would be finalized on Monday afternoon and would partially depend on injuries. Jiri Tlusty took the ice at the start of Group A practice in a non-contact jersey, while Sergei Samsonov did not skate.

Jokinen – Sutter – Kennedy
Bowman – Nash – Ruutu
Kostopoulos – Dalpe – O’Sullivan
Osala – Dodge – Dwyer
Gleason – Lawson
Fitzgerald – Corvo
Rissanen – McBain
Borer – Sanguinetti
Boychuk – E. Staal – Samson
LaRose – Skinner – Cole
Terry – Chaput – Blanchard
J. Staal – Matsumoto – McKenzie
Pitkanen – Levi
Harrison – Babchuk
Rodney – Carson
Jordan – Bellemore

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