Hello again, Caniacs, it’s that time of the week again, time for another week in review. There is plenty to discuss with the past week seeing the Canes open training camp and play three preseason games, so let’s get to it.
46 Players Remain in Training Camp
Given the fact that training camp has already been going for over a week, this is a bit unusual, but then again, this is a bit of an unusual season. I think there are two reasons for this. Number one is that with playing the Minnesota Wild tonight, and the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday and Wednesday, the Canes will play three games in four nights. Also important to note is that due to his involvement with Team Canada at the World Cup of hockey, head coach Bill Peters just arrived to camp Friday and has yet to coach a game. It is likely he wants to get a look at some players and work with them before they head to either Charlotte or their junior teams, particularly with 2016 first rounders Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier.
Canes play three preseason games
The Canes played three games on their pre-season schedule this week, going 2-0-1. The team defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in overtime on Monday and the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday, both on the road, before falling to the Lightning 2-1 in overtime at PNC arena on Monday night. The two road games both saw a large number of players unlikely to make the opening night roster, but there are a number of positives to take from them.
First and foremost is that, playing two periods apiece in two games, neither Cam Ward or Eddie Lack gave up a goal. It is important to note that they were also largely facing young non-NHL players, but for a team whose goaltending has struggled the way the Canes has recently and badly needs it to be better, Carolina will take any kind of positive start for its two goalies.
Also good to note is that Justin Faulk netted the overtime winner Monday while Jeff Skinner scored against the Bolts Tuesday. Both of these players are notoriously slow starters, so it is nice to see them get going early, even if it is pre-season.
While the loss to Tampa Friday featured some familiar offensive struggles, especially on the power-play, where the Canes despite looking good went one for six, there was a big positive to take. With the team down late in third period and Tampa netminder Andrei Vasilevsky having made several ten-bell stops, the team was able to find a way to score on a late power-play with an extra attacker, with Jeff Skinner sending the game to overtime. How many times have we seen the team continue to fire away but not be able to find the equalizer, and talking about the opposing goalie after the game? Finding those goals in the regular season means valuable points that can make a big difference in the standings, so that is definitely an encouraging sign that the Canes will hope carries over.
The search for a captain continues
The team continues its quest to replace Eric Staal as the Canes’ captain. I think it is unlikely we see a captain this year, but rather a leadership by committee. Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal will both definitely be part of this, and are the top two candidates to eventually be captain. Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey will also be there to provide leadership. One that I think is interesting to watch is Skinner. The Canes’ top goal-scorer has really matured since his rookie year, and has taken on more leadership in the past year. He wore an “A” on Tuesday night, and I think he is an excellent candidate for one of the alternate captaincy spots this year, while even potentially being a dark horse for the eventual full captaincy. I wrote about Canes leadership for the Technician here and about Skinner specifically here.
That’s all for this week, join me for more next Sunday as the regular season is now less than two weeks away!