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Tuesday Practice Notes

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Things are starting to get a little crazy as opening night approaches, so in the interest of posting a few updates from today’s practice, uh, today, we’re going to a bulleted format this time around. Hope you don’t mind. This could become a more regular occurrence during the regular season, depending on what’s going on with the rest of the site.

Paul Branecky
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  • Joni Pitkanen practiced fully with the team today (without the gold non-contact jersey) for the first time this season. He said he felt pretty good, but the real test will come when he wakes up in the morning. He’s day-to-day at this point, with opening night still a possibility, but not a given.

    Even if he’s healthy, there’s the matter of getting up to game speed in a matter of days, rather than the weeks an entire training camp provides. However, Pitkanen and the coaching staff don’t seem overly concerned. ”Because he’s such a strong and powerful skater, it’s actually a little bit easier for him than with a lot of other guys,” said Coach Paul Maurice.

    Offseason signing Jay Harrison, winner of the training camp audition for the team’s seventh defenseman, is still around should the need arise.

  • We thought that Eric Staal hit a bit of a turning point towards improving his offensive consistency last season and that he would hit the ground running in 2009-10 after a few years of slowish starts. After looking good since the opening practice and scoring six points in three exhibition games, all signs point to a big start from No. 12.

    ”Personally I feel pretty good on the ice and have started to hit my spots and where I needed to be,” said Staal. “I feel stronger and I feel better on the ice than I did last year. The preseason is about trying to build that confidence, and I feel like I’ve got that.”

  • The Canes feel as though they’re ready following a shorter camp and just four exhibition games, which is good because they’ll get a doozy of an early test. They play two Stanley Cup favorites in the first two nights of the season – at home to Philadelphia on Friday and at a Boston team not exactly pleased with the way last season ended on Saturday.

    ”Two big, physical teams, and that’s a good way to get started,” said Maurice with as straight a face as he could manage.

    “We don’t have a choice [but to be ready],” said Staal. “We’ll definitely get a good test Friday night in our building. We need to come out with that jump and fire, and I’m sure we will because a lot of guys are pretty pumped that training camp is over.”
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