Zac Dalpe looked confident in his Hurricanes debut. The first-year pro is battling several players for a spot on the Carolina roster. Photo by LTD
When the Florida Panthers scored three goals in the span of 1:54 of the first period, any chance the Carolina Hurricanes had of winning their preseason opener seemed to be out the window. While winning would be nice, this preseason — perhaps more than any since the franchise moved to Raleigh — is about talent evaluation and battles for roster spots. So while the score read 3-0 less than six minutes into the game, there was still plenty to be won or lost for the young players fighting for a job with the Hurricanes.
One game does not a preseason make, but on a night where the play was mostly sloppy, some players stood out more than others. Here's a rundown of how the 20 Hurricanes who played last night fared.
Jamie McBain, D — The Calder-eligible defenseman didn't register a point, but he still showed flashes of what a threat he can be. But most impressive was the physicality McBain showed, using his body more and out-muscling a few Panthers in his own zone. Stat to know: McBain had 7:07 of power play time, a minute more than the next closest Carolina player. The Canes power play went 0-for-6, looking predictably sloppy given the lack of time spent on it so far in training camp.
Tim Gleason, D — Perhaps most noticeable was Gleason’s restraint: twice Panthers players nearly came to blows with Gleason, but the veteran on defense smartly held back from dropping the gloves. Stat to know: One of six regulars from last season in the lineup, Gleason played a shade under 16 minutes, including less than a minute on the penalty kill while coach Paul Maurice took a look at some of the players battling for the sixth spot on defense in the role.
Patrick O`Sullivan, F — O`Sullivan’s first game in red and black was a success. He assisted on the team’s only goal — shorthanded, to boot — and was arguably the best player on the ice for either team, a huge victory given all the buzz surrounding his signing (see more here at From The Rink). Stat to know: O`Sullivan was one of just three players to finish with a plus-1 plus/minus ratio.
Zach Boychuk, LW — Boychuk was mostly invisible, not a good start for the former first-round pick who was a frontrunner to earn a roster spot this fall. Stat to know: No shots and a minus-2 in 13:45.
Tuomo Ruutu, RW — Ruutu's interference penalty in the first period negated a Carolina man advantage and led to the Panthers’ second goal, a power play tally. Stat to know: Two hits for the check machine, who seemed a little reined in but no worse for wear coming off injury struggles last season.
Jon Matsumoto, C — Matsumoto didn't put his best foot forward in his Carolina debut, throwing a cross-ice pass in his own zone that eventually led to a Florida goal and not making much of an impact otherwise. Stat to know: Carolina needs players who can win faceoffs, and Matsumoto won just two of eight draws.
Drayson Bowman, LW —Bowman led the team with five hits and had a couple scoring opportunities last night, though he fanned on one chance in close. Otherwise, he was active and was looking to shoot. Stat to know: I had the chance to talk to Bowman last night, and the number to know is 15.
"I worked with Pete [Friesen] quite a bit, lost close to 15 pounds and a bunch of body fat so, I'm feeling really quick on the ice and it seems to be paying off so far," Bowman said.
Zac Dalpe, C — If there was a winner in the four-man battle at center last night, it was probably Dalpe. The first-year pro looked confident and in shape, most notably on a sequence when he shot the puck on net and fought through two Florida players for a chance at collecting his own rebound. Stat to know: Dalpe was six of eight in the faceoff circle, the only Hurricane to finish above 50 percent on his draws.
Riley Nash, C — While not as noticeable as Dalpe, Nash looked solid in his Hurricanes debut. Here's what he had to say after the game:
Stat to know: Nash won eight of 17 faceoffs, second best among Carolina's centers.
Bobby Sanguinetti, D — Sanguinetti showed off his trademark skating, and even pinched once for a scoring chance. He looked comfortable and was mostly unnoticeable, good for a player who has at times been criticized for his defense. Stat to know: Sanguinetti logged 24:18 of ice time, tops on the team, including a team-high 17:42 at even strength.
Tom Kostopoulos, RW — Kostopoulos did what he always does: gave an honest, hard-working effort while standing up for teammates on occasion. Stat to know: Kostopoulos was teamed with O`Sullivan when the Hurricanes scored their lone goal on the penalty kill, so he finished the night as one of three players with a plus-1.
Anton Babchuk, D — Babchuk scored the lone goal by converting a 2-on-1 shorthanded breakout with O`Sullivan in the second period, showing that he not only possesses a mammoth slap shot but also a good set of hands. But he was badly beaten on Florida's second goal, when Mike Santorelli blew by him around the corner and beat Cam Ward for a power play goal. Stat to know: Three blocked shots for Babchuk, which — if indicative of what's to come — could come in handy on a defense lacking a true shot blocker after Gleason.
Patrick Dwyer, RW — Dwyer has been considered a candidate for one of the bottom two center spots, but he played on the wing (frankly, where he belongs) Tuesday and brought his usual hustle and energy. He did miss a scoring chance in the slot when he couldn't handle a centering pass. Stat to know: Dwyer played some center on the penalty kill, but went 0 for 2 in the faceoff circle.
Jay Harrison, D — With Carolina's defense riddled with offensive-minded players, Harrison will likely be neck and neck with Brett Carson for a shot to be the No. 6 blueliner and a complement to Gleason as a defense-first rearguard. Stat to know: While he was minus-2, Harrison did have three blocked shots and at least one "stick up for your teammate."
Jeff Skinner, C — The newly signed Skinner looked as he should in his NHL debut: nervous. But there were flashes of the skill that has people all around the league talking about what a special player he can be. Stat to know: Skinner is still being touted as a center, but his 5 for 20 in the faceoff circle was abysmal — one of his five wins in the offensive zone even went all the way back into the Carolina end. Some think he may be best-suited for the wing, and his efforts on the draw coupled with one instance when you could hear Chad LaRose yelling for him to "get back" to cover his responsibilities at center makes you wonder if center is his position of the future. That being said, it's one game.
Casey Borer, D — Carolina's hard-luck kid looked like he was back on track in his his quest to become an NHL player. Borer logged more than 17 minutes last night and was more physical than he had been in his previous trips to Raleigh. Stat to know: Borer led all Hurricanes with four blocked shots.
Chad LaRose, RW — Maurice admitted after the game that LaRose mentioned that his legs were tired in the first, and if his were feeling heavy, that it's likely everyone's were after three heavy workouts to open camp. But LaRose looked like his normal, hustling self. Stat to know: LaRose was the only player with more than two minutes of penalty kill time, and he will likely be relied on heavily this season in that capacity.
Jerome Samson, RW — The AHL first-team All-Star was limited to less than 12 minutes, mostly at even-strength, finishing minus-2 on the night. Stat to know: Despite seeing the third fewest minutes of any player, Samson tied Bowman for the team lead in shots with four.
Cam Ward, G — Ward likely won't frame the box score from this game and hang it on his wall, but it was what it was: a preseason tuneup for one of the few sure things in the Canes lineup. Stat to know: Ward allowed three goals in a 1:54 span in the first period, bringing back memories of last season’s losing streak that saw the defense allow opportunity after opportunity. Ward was far from blameless last night — Santorelli's goal saw Babchuk get beat around the edge, but Ward still should have stopped him — but he should be fine if the defense in front of him doesn't collapse in spurts.
Justin Pogge, G — By the time Pogge entered the game with eight minutes left in the second period, the Hurricanes had taken control of the pace and he saw little work. Still, he allowed a goal to Nathan Paetsch that capped off the scoring. Stat to know: In 27:59, Pogge faced just four shots and allowed the Paetsch goal. Ward, on the other hand, faced 20 in 31:58, including four minutes of shorthanded time.