Back in the States again after two games in Canada, the Carolina Hurricanes are still out in the Pacific Time Zone for a couple games of this western conference swing, which, as you may have heard some describe it, seems ridiculous given that 16 days ago they were playing in St Petersburg, Russia, a full eleven time zones away. (or thirteen, I suppose, if you take the scenic route).
I've got a few updates from the morning [which was at 2:30pm ET] skate:
As was discussed in comments following Cory's earlier Canes Country game preview, John Forslund was on hand at the Shark Tank and tells us that Tuomo Ruutu will be at center today. This link takes you to the full line-up, including confirmation that Zac Dalpe is back centering the fourth line, Jeff Skinner will be on Ruutu's wing opposite Erik Cole, and Sergei Samsonov is scratched. It appears Brett Carson will also be odd man out, though the D pairings have been adjusted again.
Preview from the N&O: Canes find life is hard on the road - NewsObserver.com If the Carolina Hurricanes were a pretty happy bunch a week ago, the smiles have vanished.
After the jump, stories and worries in San Jose, audio from Coach Paul Maurice after practice, some other player interviews (Wallin and Sutter and Skinner, oh my) and this week's Power rankings....
First from the MSM Sharks blog "Working the Corners" at the San Jose Mercury News, updates on Coach Todd McClellan's goalie of choice and the Lines in Teal tonight. Note that many thought Antero Niittymaki would get the nod after Antti Niemi's less than impressive work versus the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday. Not so.
When you take the games in Sweden out of the equation, the beginning of this season reminds me of the beginning of last season, especially from a fan confidence perspective. Coming off a summer where few team needs were addressed, the Sharks opened with a stinker of a game, losing 5-2 to an obviously inferior Colorado Avalanche team. The defense looked slow, the goal tending looked sloppy, and the offense which was billed as one of the best in the league couldn't convert on their opportunities. People were calling for blood.
Niclas Wallin Will Face Former Team For the First Time - San Jose Sharks For Niclas Wallin, Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes will be his first against his former team.
Comments from Joe Corvo about the "ridiculous" schedule the team is dealing with, made after the embarrassing loss in Vancouver, seem to have legs. Corvo rips Canes' schedule - The Globe and Mail Carolina hasn’t been at home in Raleigh since Oct. 1, yet has trekked from Europe to the North American west coast, travelling about 15,000 kilometres and through 11 time zones Here's the audio if you missed it.
Not your usual coach-speak interview with our young Alternate from last weekend in Vancouver: Tamer Sutter plays outside the box Brandon Sutter was named an alternate captain by the Carolina Hurricanes this season. It’s no wonder.
[Digression alert]: Sutter also talks about his views on dangerous hits, looking back at getting knocked out by Doug Weight a couple years ago. There's a special conference going on at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that is looking at other solutions to this ongoing problem of dangerous hits this week. At the Mayo Clinic: The Orthopedist and Hockey Parent - NYTimes.com An organizer of the Mayo Clinic conference on concussions is not just a leading doctor -- he's the father of a Boston Bruin involved in a famous incident last season.
Back to the interviews:
Dalpe grows into his role - NewsObserver.com Carolina Hurricanes rookie Zac Dalpe hasn't piled up the ice time in his first three NHL games.
Plenty of reason to smile for Skinner The last time Jeff Skinner was in the house, it was called the Corel Centre and he was a 4-11 captain of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, beaming a rink-wide smile as he held the 2004 minor peewee AAA trophy at the Bell Capital Cup.
Skinner figuring out NHL (theprovince.com) "He's an unusual player," said Canes head coach Paul Maurice, whose club takes on the Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena. "I wouldn't be able to completely describe some of the things that he does. I know I get caught watching him as a fan, not a coach. All I can say is he's easily passed every test he had."
This week's collection of meaningless but entertaining, curiosity fulfilling and occasionally worthy team evaluations
FOX Sports on MSN The mighty have fallen: Canes drop from 3rd to 20th.
When Do Slow Starts Become A Serious Problem? - SBNation.com When do we realize that, hey, maybe our team just sucks? Where the Canes drop from 3rd to 12th in the East.
ESPN Carolina drops again, here from 2nd to 21st. These people are so fickle!
TSN.ca Canes at #24 now (but only a lousy 23rd last week.)
The Hockey News publishes their rankings on Wednesday, but they did have this new feature: a goalie-specific "Vezina Trophy Watch", with an honorable mention of one Cam Ward. The Hockey News: Vezina Trophy Watch: Quick takes early lead
A hot start in Europe earned Cam Ward a spot on our first Hart Trophy Watch, but two mediocre appearances in North America bump him down. We’ll chalk it up to jet lag, but Ward will have to keep battling on a West Coast swing.
A little news from the Charlotte Checkers and younger prospects
A photo and video look back at Opening Night… | Checkers Chatter has photos and several videos about the festivities Friday at the TWC Arena.
The Checkers are en route to Albany to play in front of their former fans at the Times-Union Arena vs the Albany Devils Wednesday night. Here's one story on the match-up on the bench. Kinnear, Kowalsky familiar opponents - Times Union Born 476 days apart in Simcoe, Ontario, Rick Kowalsky and Geordie Kinnear have spent many days in the same hockey barn, usually on the ice as players. Kowalsky, first-year head coach of the Albany Devils, will be matched against Kinnear, an assistant for the Charlotte Checkers, when their teams meet....
A couple of our NCAA blueline prospects are part of some highly regarded squads this year. Inside College Hockey | INCH Power Rankings Brian Dumoulin's Boston College remains at #1 after a dominating 2-game sweep over Denver this weekend, Justin Faulk's UMinn - Duluth now at #5. And Mark Alt is a freshman at perennial powerhouse Minnesota. However, with a very young team this year, at the moment the Gophers have dropped out of top 20.
#4 - Justin Shugg (Drafted by Carolina in 2010) Shugg good game, was driving hard to the net and trying to make things happen. He also looked good on the PK (and got a ton of practice on the night too). Offensively, he had two nice passes off the rush, one to Brace for the 2nd goal of the game, second to Smith Pelly for the game tying goal
With the belief that the Hurricanes will in fact play at home before the end of the month, it's nice to know the ice will not be tilted against them (or their opponent) thanks to laser equipment installed this summer. New technology keeps RBC ice flat - NewsObserver.com The Hurricanes use Olympia ice resurfacers rather than the Zambonis often seen in many NHL ice rinks.