The Carolina Hurricanes played a hockey game on Monday.
Well, sort of.
On the seventh day of camp, the team staged a Red-White scrimmage at Wake Competition Center. With the focus of the week shifting toward a game-like mindset, the instrasquad friendly served as a barometer of individual and team preparedness before the 2020-21 season gets underway on Thursday.
Here are three takeaways from Monday's Red-White scrimmage.
1. The Feel of the Game
Pregame warm-ups. Music (Vincent Trocheck's mix, apparently) blaring. Three periods. Faceoffs. Line changes. Three-on-three. A shootout.
Monday's Red-White scrimmage was, as best as the Canes could replicate, the game before the game that counts.
It wasn't a true exhibition game, but it will have to do.
"It felt good. It started off with a good pace, and we kept that pace throughout the scrimmage, which was nice," Brady Skjei said. "I think the guys enjoyed it. Just helped getting our feet under us."
Video: "Us players wanted to have the pace of the game."
"It was more to just get the feeling back. I don't think any of us were too worried about little plays and stuff like that," Jake Bean said. "It was more just feeling line changes, feeling faceoffs, feeling how that feeling is. It's quite a bit different than practice."
In the absence of a true dress rehearsal, the scrimmage marked an important step in the process prior to opening night: an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate concepts and execution, and an opportunity for the players to up the competitiveness and get a feel for game flow.
"It was more for them to go at the pace or closer to the pace you're going to go to in a game. That was really the mindset of it," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "The routine of a game, pregame, all that stuff was important. I thought it was good."
What's most important is that the Canes got out of it what they wanted to get out of it. The first 10 minutes on Thursday are going to be markedly different, but at least maybe now it won't be so unexpected.
"Puck drop in game one is going to be a different animal because playing a game is a different animal," Brind'Amour said. "Hopefully this knocks off a little rust."
2. The Little Details
In case you were wondering, Team Red bested Team White, 4-3. Down by two heading into the three-player shootout, Teuvo Teravainen netted the lone goal for White, as they fell just short.
Of the six goals that were scored in the scrimmage itself, five came in the first period alone. Brady Skjei netted the first of the game, as he snuck in from the point and beat Petr Mrazek with a snap shot.
"I like to use my skating to my advantage and get up into the offense," Skjei said. "I was playing with Pesce for most of the scrimmage, and with him back there to man the fort, you feel pretty good jumping up into the play."
It was back-and-forth for the rest of the first period. Red jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Sebastian Aho redirected a Bean shot to get White on the board. Seth Jarvis banged in a shot in tight to tie the game shortly after. Then, Red's young line grinded out a shift that ended with Morgan Geekie scoring on a quick-hitter in the slot.
Video: Hurricanes have scrimmage.
Brett Pesce stretched Red's lead to 4-2 with a goal late in the second, and that was the only scoring of note in the scrimmage's final 30 minutes.
So, Canes win!
(The ice was randomly resurfaced with 8:07 left in the second period, and the scrimmage ended with just over four minutes of three-on-three action, for the record.)
3. The Coach's Thoughts
Even though the scrimmage was more for the players' benefit, what did the head coach think?
"What I liked is that I feel like the stuff we put in, you could see we were trying to do it. It's not like we had five guys all over the place," Brind'Amour said. "What I saw was a group that has been together and kind of knows what we're doing, which is what you'd expect."
Video: "It was more for them for the pace."
Instead of manning a team behind the bench, Brind'Amour observed from a corner perch alongside video coach Chris Huffine.
"I find when I'm coaching I'm watching one team a lot. I didn't want to just focus in on one group," Brind'Amour said. "I wanted to get a bird's eye view of everybody just to have a different look."
It will be back onto the ice for Brind'Amour on Tuesday, when the Canes practice in two groups as they have throughout camp. Then, the team will be down to just its active roster and taxi squad for Wednesday before flying out to Detroit.
"I'm excited just to see where we're at and get going for real," he said.