Besides a great atmosphere, kids having fun, concessions at a price rarely seen, and free parking for all, the Caniac Carnival and Red & White Scrimmage was a great event. I would guess that many regulars on CC were on a mission to analyze the new team and to determine if the 2011-12 Canes will take the next step and emerge as a playoff team. I had a few observations (not profound). See them after the jump.
1. Faceoffs: I tried to pay as close attention to the faceoff circle as possible to see if this critical skill improved over the summer. The Canes obviously need the Captain to continue to improve his stats and for other role players like Tim Brent to vault our team to respectability on the draw. From what I observed, Brent can get it done in the circle. I did not see him lose a faceoff. Staal won the few that I noticed as well. Overall: +1
2. Defense: In a game that was wide open, chippier than I would have guessed, and left us with 17 goals scored, if you count the empty netter, I am not sure the new Defense was something easy to assess. I did however think that Gleason was faster and looked more like a two way forward than a shut down guy. McBain and Faulk flowed into the zone and played with speed as well. Murphy!!! This guy looked at ease and had a sense of control and poise that impressed me. The flow of this game was choppy and harassing at times and he appeared to be the smoothest puck handler on the ice. If this is an indication of what he can do, I hope this guy sticks now. Overall: +1.5
3. New Guys: There were a lot of new faces and names to observe, but I intentionally focused on Stewart, Pony and Kaberle. Stewart looked the most frustrated of the three. His facial expression after finally tallying a goal in the third was very indicative and this. He had a "jeesh it's about time" look pasted on his mug. Pony looked big and skilled and seemed to have a chemistry with Staal and Jussi. Kaberle showed hints of the ease at which he can play his position, but seemed a bit tentative as if feeling out the environs. Overall: Even
4. Old Guys and Other stuff: I walked away with a few other observation that stuck with me. Tlusty looked strong on the puck. The three Checker's Amigos Dalpe, Bowman and Boychuk all impressed and make it hard to not want all of them in Raleigh. Skinner was Skinner. He was in the right places at the right times and the puck seemed to find his stick. A lot of the younger prospects certainly played well but Chris Terry wins surprise first star in my book. Overall +1