The Carolina Hurricanes played their first ever preseason game in Charlotte and it turned into a huge success as the home team dominated the Winnipeg Jets, 4-0 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 10,000 at TWCA. Cam Ward looked in midseason form and picked up the shutout with a 36 save performance.
Several former Charlotte Checkers did some damage in this game and continue to make the Carolina coaching staff think long and hard about who will make this hockey team.
Just six minutes and change into the game, Zac Dalpe broke clear and zipped a nice shot, short side past Winnipeg goalie, David Aebischer to give Carolina the lead and they never looked back.
Before the period was over, defenseman Jay Harrison would slip another puck by Aebischer, this time with a shot from the point, and the Canes took a commanding 2-0 lead into intermission on just seven shots.
About midway through the second period, Jerome Samson scored on a tight angled shot from the side of the net. The puck could have hit someone on the way in, but Samson made a nice unassisted play when he took the puck away from a defenseman behind the goal line, controlled the puck as he was harassed, then fired it on net.
Also in the second period, Riley Nash scored the final tally of the game when he put back a Ryan Murphy shot which had just hit the post. Nash played a solid overall game and was praised by coach Paul Maurice afterward, who said that he was probably the most improved player from last training camp to this one.
"He's another smart guy," said the coach. "Positionally, he's just never out of position. Now you look at him as a definite prospect for our team."
At the other end of the ice, the defense played well as rookies Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy continue to make strong cases for themselves. Faulk played a solid game positionally, including on the powerplay while Murphy looked extremely dynamic at times. The rookie from Kitchener was named third star of the game for the second straight contest.
Ward looked extremely comfortable throughout the game and was named first star.
Maurice also stated after the game that mostly young players would be making the trip to Winnipeg and it will be a very important game for them. You can check out his entire interview at the end of the article.
- The team improved on their passing in this one and looked much better breaking the puck out of their own end and getting it through the neutral zone with some speed. Of course as Maurice mentioned in his interview, the Jets had a younger, less experienced team on the ice than the Canes did. Still, this was an improvement over the last game.
- Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk both look very good and continue to impress in their own way. Derek Joslin will see some action soon, so there is another blueliner in the mix.
- Speaking of defense, Tim Gleason looks mobile and tough so far this year, Jay Harrison looks better than ever, and Tomas Kaberle makes a lot of subtle, effective plays. Kaberle is also good at sneaking in on offense. His experience shows.
- Riley Nash has had a very solid overall training camp. He stood out in the Red/White scrimmage and looked like he fit right in while centering Jeff Skinner and Anthony Stewart in this game.
- Maurice said that Stewart played his best game so far. He was banging bodies and crashed the net well.
- Zac Dalpe was moved up with Eric Staal and Alexei Ponikarovsky about midway through the second period. He didn't look out of place on the first line and Maurice liked what he saw as well.
- Ponikarovsky continued his fine play and in this game showed his puckhandling skills and strength as he controlled the puck at one time while two Jets tried to take it away. He ended up making a nice pass to Staal, who then passed to Jokinen, who almost scored.
- On Wednesday, the Canes fly up to Winnipeg for round two of their preseason series with the Jets.