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Tweetmail No. 161: Slavin, Necas & Stempniak

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

CALGARY - Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, now presented by Tijuana Flats! Wear your Canes gear to participating Raleigh locations on Wednesdays throughout the season and receive 50% off any entrée.

Tweetmail is 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 @YaBoyDunky: Is Jaccob Slavin the best player in the world?

Is Jaccob Slavin good at hockey or what?

The answer is yes, yes he is good at hockey. Really good, even. I said on Tuesday night that he was one of the league's best-kept secrets, but I have a feeling that perception is beginning to change. Slavin saw a heavy dose of Connor McDavid on Tuesday, and he snuffed out one of the league's most dynamic players with relative ease.

Two second-period plays stand out to me. With just over seven minutes left to play in the period, McDavid corralled a pass in the neutral zone and skated in 2-on-2. Slavin shadowed him as he cut across the ice at the top of the far faceoff circle, crisscrossing with Patrick Maroon. McDavid then tried to slide the puck across to Maroon for what could have been a bang-bang, tap-in goal, but Slavin dropped to a knee and laid his stick on the ice to break up the pass.

Later in the period, McDavid attempted to split the Canes' defense at the blue line, but Slavin stayed with him, nudging him with a shoulder to knock the puck off his stick.

Slavin capped his banner game with a beauty of a stick move at the other end of the ice, as he dangled around goaltender Laurent Brossoit to essentially cement his team's 5-3 win.

Slavin finished the night with a goal, an assist, two points, a plus-3 rating, a hit and five blocks in a game-high 27:34 of ice time.

After the game, I asked Jordan Staal simply, "How good is Jaccob Slavin?"

"Slavo has been good. Really, really good. I think people are going to start to realize how good he is. As a group here we already know that," he said. "The guy just plays heavy minutes. He's got a great stick, great vision and great hands. He buried a big one for us."

Tweet from @powerplay53: What was your thoughts of how Necas played being his 1st NHL game

I thought Martin Necas was fine in his NHL debut in Edmonton on Tuesday night, but the 18-year-old was a little harsher on himself.

"I wasn't too nervous. I just wanted to play my game, but I didn't. I played bad. I didn't feel good on the ice," he said after the game. "We have two points, and that's the most important thing."

Perhaps Necas didn't feel great about his performance because he was so sparingly used. He logged 6:54 of total ice time, the majority of which came in the first period, but that says more about the flow of the game than anything. The Canes and Oilers combined for 24 penalty minutes, and Necas is not a part of the team's power play or penalty kill. Head coach Bill Peters has talked in the past about how, in games like this that waffle between even-strength and specialty teams play so frequently, it's tough to consistently deploy four lines. So, Necas found himself sitting more than usual, as he logged less than two minutes of ice time in both the second and third periods.

I specifically recall one dominant shift in the first period in which Necas, Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm rolled around in the offensive zone for a sustained period of time, skating around the Oilers' defenders and possessing the puck. Necas set up Aho, who found a soft spot at the near faceoff dot, with a nice feed, but Aho whiffed on the shot.

Necas did go 0-for-4 in the faceoff circle, but that will improve with more in-game repetitions. Overall, I thought Necas handled himself well in his NHL debut, and we'll see if he remains in the lineup for Thursday's tilt in Calgary.

Tweet from @lisajnc: How is Lee Stempniak? Any word on when he will be able to play again?

Lee Stempniak remains sidelined with an upper-body injury that's been nagging for some time now. We've seen him around the room, whether it's on the bike or roaming around after the first two home games, but he's yet to join the team at practice. That's going to be the first critical step in him returning to game action. From there, he'll add contact in practice to see how his body reacts, and then it's a matter of when he will be medically cleared to play again.

Stempniak is not on this road trip with the Hurricanes, and I don't believe the plan is for him to join mid-trip, as Trevor van Riemsdyk did. So, we're looking at Monday at the earliest for a return to practice and, best-case scenario, he could make his season debut by the end of the month.

Regardless, we should have a better handle on his status once the team returns to Raleigh this weekend.

Tweet from @a_gunzy: If an injured player - like TVR - flies to meet the team on the road, do they fly a charter plane or is it commercial? #Tweetmail #Canes

These situations are few and far between, much less frequent than a player being recalled and flying in to join the team on the road, as was Trevor Carrick's case on Saturday. And, in both situations, the players fly commercial. Carrick played in the Charlotte Checkers' home opener on Friday before flying to Winnipeg (through Minneapolis) on Saturday. Van Riemsdyk joined the Hurricanes in Edmonton on Monday night, flying through Denver and getting in a few hours prior to midnight.

Tweet from @HeyHeyWadayaSay: What did you do before you worked with the Canes? How did you get where you are now?

(I can't remember if we've covered this in Tweetmail before. I don't think we have, but I could be wrong. We've done a lot of these.)

I was an undergrad student at UNC from 2007-2011. I was a product of the school's esteemed journalism school (what was then the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and is now the School of Media and Journalism) with a focus in public relations. I also obtained a certificate in sports communication and minored in creative writing (and history), as well.

In the 2010-11 season, my senior year at UNC, I interned for the team under Paul Branecky and was tasked with various web updates, writing a few pieces on the Charlotte Checkers and helping with a medley game-night duties, including the team's new Twitter account for in-game updates, @Canes_Gameday.

Paul left the team in the summer of 2011 to go work for the Checkers, where he now serves as their Vice President of Communications. I interviewed with the Canes when Paul's position became vacant, began working full-time with the team in September 2011 and the rest is history.

Internships are vitally important for college students looking to break into the workforce, especially in the sports industry. As an intern, you gain valuable experience in your field but, perhaps more importantly, you meet people and make connections, which will serve you well down the road. And, if you're looking to write about sports - or write about anything, really - my advice is to simply keep writing. Keep writing, whether it's for your personal blog or a school newspaper or freelancing for a larger company, keep writing because the only way to hone your craft is to continually practice it.

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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'd like to hear more about our squash escapades in Edmonton, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.

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