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Tweetmail No. 158: Penalties, Making the Team & Skating

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let's get to it.

Tweet from @PotPizzle: @MSmithCanes was there an adjustment to the slashing rules in the offseason I missed?

So, this wasn't officially a #Tweetmail question but rather a general one I received on Twitter during Tuesday night's game in Tampa Bay. And it's one that merits further, lengthy discussion, so away we go.

In June discussions, NHL general managers sought out more vigilance in regards to slashing penalties, especially when the slash occurs on or near a player's hands.

It's important to note that this is not a rule change. As Rule 61.1 reads (emphasis mine):

"Slashing - Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-aggressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent's body, the opponent's stick, or on or near the opponent's hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing."

That's why, in just two preseason contests, there have been 13 slashing minors levied against the Canes and their opponents.

"It's unfortunate, but that's the reality here early in the exhibition season," head coach Bill Peters said Wednesday morning. "I hope it either settles down or the players adjust."

There is also an edict for stricter enforcement on faceoff violations. Again, this is not a rule change but rather a stern adhering to how Rule 76.4 is written - but it appears there is some confusion over what exactly that means.

"It's the edict for now, for sure. You look around the league and it's every night everywhere," Peters said. "There's a little bit of teaching that has to happen from the league to the players, to the coaches, to the GMs. Everyone is not 100 percent clear on this, but I think it will get cleared up and it will be good changes moving forward, but right now it's a little bit of an adjustment time."

The result has been a number of players getting tossed from the dot (and when it happens twice, a minor penalty is called). On Tuesday night in Buffalo, the Canes' lone forward in a 5-on-3 man disadvantage was tossed from the circle. Enter defenseman Trevor Carrick, who won the draw and ended the night 1-for-1. Here's pictorial evidence!

"Carrick is a specialist," Peters joked.

These rule enforcements are clearly going to require an adjustment period on all sides - players, coaches and officials all included - and you're seeing it play out in the preseason. It doesn't make for great hockey - constant special teams play makes for choppy 5-on-5 flow - and you can make the argument that it's coming at the expense of getting a proper evaluation on a number of young players who aren't typically deployed in special teams situations, but it's the new reality.

"I understand it, and I get it," Peters said. "I think it will be fine once the standard is established and communication is clear."

Tweet from @PeteSchirrick17: Do you think Martin Necas will make the NHL lineup?

Well, he certainly has the talent and skillset.

Necas, through Traverse City and the first week of training camp, has been immensely impressive. The Canes' 12th overall draft pick is highly skilled. Listed at 6-foot-2 (which may be a bit understated) and 179 pounds, Necas has good size for an 18-year-old and he can absolutely fly in open ice. And, he is adjusting to the small rink just fine.

"I think it's maybe better to play on smaller ice. You make one move and you have a big chance," he said after his preseason debut in Buffalo. "That's a big difference, and I like it maybe more."

Necas has already played in one preseason game, the first of the seven-game schedule, and he's in the lineup again tonight versus Tampa Bay.

"He's going to get a good look here," Peters said on Monday. "He's been good."

So, does he make the Opening Night roster? He very certainly could, but it may be best for his development to spend one more year with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic's top league or make the move to North America with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.

But, you just never know.

"He's got a chance to make the team for sure," Peters said.

Tweet from @CSaleska: What is your advice for a 42-year old dad trying to learn how to skate for the first time?

Watch this and then hit the ice.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you have better, more practical skating advice, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

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