Canes and Coffee coffee cups for sale and/or pick up at the Caniac Carnival
For those considering picking up a Canes and Coffee coffee cup, it is now possible to just pay for an pick up a cup at the Caniac Carnival at the Tenco Coffee food truck. The deal/price is the same. The cost for a coffee cup plus a coffee (in a regular cup, so you don’t have tote a dirty coffee cup home) is $17.50 out the door after sales tax. You can also order one here either for prepaid pick up at the Caniac Carnival or for shipment. Sales obviously go to support the Canes and Coffee website as we prepare for the significant endeavor of covering 87 (hopefully plus) Hurricanes and everything in between on a daily basis. Your purchase with pick up also helps Tenco which is a small local business that also uses Counter Culture coffee which is also a local business.
Canes and Coffee impromptu ‘hello’ at the Caniac Carnival until 10:30am
To drop off a box of coffee cups, I will be at PNC Arena around 9:30am. The Caniac Carnival does not technically start until 10am, but if there are any early birds chomping at the bit to talk Hurricanes hockey, I should be in the general vicinity of the Tenco Coffee truck until 10:30am when the first practice starts. Tenco hopes to open early, so the potential is there for a first ever”Canes and Coffee Live.”
Whether you are picking up a coffee cup or not, please stop by to help me put a name to a face , CandC screen name or Twitter handle.
Marketing and community service messages aside, today was a glorious day for me as a Hurricanes fan. I fought hard to keep the front part of my schedule open with the possibility that it would stay clear until lunchtime. And for once IT DID! I attended the entirety of the first practice session and also the vast majority of the second one.
Below is a stream of consciousness set of notes…
The practice itself
For those who have never attended a preseason practice, especially at the beginning of training camp, they tend to have many similar elements. With 59 players in training camp, the early practices are split up into two equal groups each with roughly an equal amount of NHLers and prospects/AHLers. The practices are fast-paced moving from one drill to the next and with a rapid succession of repetitions such that the ice is really busy. Another theme is that there is a bunch of skating and a bunch of moving the puck quickly from stick to stick. And a large number of the skating drills finish with a player off the rush firing at will against the goalie. And then there is usually some amount of Bill Peters barking at people which feeds the intensity level and pace. Friday’s practice was mostly from the textbook with one notable exception which was that the practices both ran very long compared to my memory of the norm. Whereas normal is an hour even or an hour and ten minutes, both practices on Friday ran about an hour and a half, though there was a short break after about an hour.
An early injury update
Nicolas Roy watched the second session in street clothes from behind the glass just behind the bench. Here is hoping that the fact that we was up in attendance is a positive sign after he was jolted and knocked out of Tuesday’s Traversey City game in the very first shift. Valentin Zykov participated in full in the first session but did have on a yellow non-contact jersey. And Aleksi Saarela who was also recovering recently from offseason surgery was a regular participant in a regular jersey in the second session.
The Hurricanes forward lines and defense pairings
(I thought I also saw Jooris with Nordstrom/Kruger, but it might just have been one of the drills where it was just a drill line.
Important to note is that with how I think Peters will deploy his forward lines situationally, I am not wrapped up in tagging numbers to these lines. The top three lines would be used more based on situation than in 1-2-3 fashion.
Second is that I really like these lines as a starting point. In the next few days, I will write details, but at a basic level, I like Staal/Lindholm, I also like separating Skinner from Williams, and I am on record going back before Peters permanently separated them as not liking Staal and Skinner together. More on this soon…
A couple players who stood out
In the mostly rapid fire sequence of drills goals happen intermittently throughout, so tallying scoring is not really that interesting. What is more significant for me in a first evaluation is how crisp and sharp players look
Victor Rask: He had a nice run where he seemed to snipe every shot into the corner of the net.
Jeff Skinner: He looked every bit his usual dangerous self in the offensive zone and/or with the puck on his stick.
Scott Darling: These practices are not goalie friendly, but more so than saves, Darling seemed to have a ‘just doing work to get ready’ demeanor about him hopefully suggesting that whatever transition he needs to go through mentally and/or situation-wise is well underway.
Steven Lorentz: To be clear, he is not in the group that will challenge for an NHL roster spot, but as a seventh-round draft pick, he is a nice story two years later. He will likely never win a team skating competition, but his skating has improved each and every time I have seen him in person. In addition, he has a natural nose for the front of the net and finishing ability better than one might expect.
A complementary mix – Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk
I have a half-written Traverse City recap that will have more details, but I loosely pegged Fleury’s tournament as the simple vanilla ice cream version of good. His game was minus any sprinkles, chocolate syrup, whip cream and cherries without much for scoring or really anything that I would classify as dynamic. But he did look capable in terms of avoiding volumes of significant defensive lapses, being a level above physically and being capable of using his skating ability to advance the puck which eliminates the need for the long passes that can be dangerous. In short, he looked capable but not spectacular.
Fast forward to the start of the NHL training camp, and I think that could actually be a very good fit for current partner Trevor van Riemsdyk and also getting his feet under him at the NHL level in a third pairing role. First off is that as part of the third pairing, Fleury should see a light helping of elite forward competition. In addition, van Riemsdyk is a bit more of a freelancer with the puck. As long as that does not result in Fleury having to fend off too many ‘oopses’, he will be in a position where he can sit back and bring more of his steady and solid, even if unspectacular play.
A lighter moment (for me anyway)
At the end of the second session, the group did about 5-7 minutes of hard skating laps. At the one end, Rod Brind’Amour was effectively the cone that the players looped around. The look on Brind’Amour’s face as the probably fairly tired bunch looped around him just trying to finish was absolutely classic. The captain of the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes had exactly NONE of a casual ‘is practice over yet?’ look on face. Instead, he had this steely-eyed look as he stared down each player as he was approaching him as if he was taking detailed notes on who was dogging it just trying to be finished and who was still pushing at 100 percent. I would have had the chance to ask especially some of the kids if they noticed Brind’Amour’s glare and also what their thoughts on it were.
A few other random observations
–According to the roster, Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn are identical in height, and Di Giuseppe has 15 pounds (200 vs. 185). Standing next to each other, Di Giuseppe just looks much more like an NHL power forward.
–Sort following on the first comment, I think the level of Warren Foegele’s long-term success could be largely dependent on his ability to add 10-15 pounds of muscle in a way where he gains or at least does not lose speed, acceleration and agility. In juniors McGinn was every bit a rough and tumble power forward who made defensemen mishandle pucks and whose physical made a difference and generated loose pucks and offense. At the NHL level where he is regularly giving up 15-25 pounds to big defensemen, he can still be tenacious and pesky but not so much physical in a way that regularly forces opposing players to account for him. Foegele is currently listed at 6 feet 2 inches tall and 192 pounds. He is not small, but a little bit like McGinn maybe, he is pesky and tenacious but not so much a physical force yet. At 6 feet 2 inches tall with 10 more pounds of muscle, he starts to resemble Erik Cole in terms of being a a physical force with good wheels.
–About 18 months after being acquired in the Eric Staal trade, Aleksi Saarela finally made a first appearance in Raleigh after missing a couple prospect camps due to injury. My first impression of him included noticing that he had really soft hands receiving, handling and passing the puck. He also reminded me a bit of Jeff Skinner build-wise in the sense that he is undersized in terms of height at 5 feet 11 inches tall but has decent lower body size and strength such that he is not so much a player who cannot absorb some contact.
–As a player who has traditionally been a slow starter, my preseason watch point for Faulk is twofold. First is how quickly he covers small spaces gapping up on defense, getting to loose pucks and similar situations. Second is watching his movement as he works to move pucks out of the defensive zone from behind the end line. A telltale sign of issues for Faulk for me has always been him being slow to get moving north-south such that he makes too many passes from really deep in his own end often from a standstill. To be honest, I do not feel like a got a good read on that and think it will take preseason game action for a first read.
What say you Caniacs?
The crowd was light during morning work hours on a Friday, but if anyone else was at practice, please chime in with your observations. With 59 players to track certainly everyone who sees practice notices different things.