As expected, the Carolina Hurricanes will ice a mixture of their established NHL stars and those more familiar with Time Warner Cable Arena for today’s exhibition game against the Jets in Charlotte.
With a few players struggling with minor injuries, namely Tim Brent, Patrick Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu, some of last season’s Checkers will get their chances to fill in on what will otherwise be a veteran-laden lineup. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, most notable among those is Riley Nash, a highly-rated second-year pro who is starting to come into his own after what he and his coaches have described as a “learning year” last season. He will take Ruutu’s place centering Jeff Skinner and Anthony Stewart on the Canes’ second line.
Though Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice has indicated Nash will likely start the season with the Checkers, this game will mark his first real chance to show what he can do alongside some of the Hurricanes’ top forwards. In scrimmages and preseason games up to this point, Nash has performed well on lines with the likes of Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry, who also spent the bulk of last season in Charlotte.
In addition to Canes’ stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward, the latter of which is scheduled to play an entire game for the first time this preseason after a slight upper-body concern limited him in the initial week, more familiar faces for Checkers fans will include forward Zac Dalpe and defenseman Justin Faulk.
Dalpe, who began the preseason as the forward most likely to make the jump to a full-time NHL player and has done nothing to change that outlook, will play right wing on the Hurricanes’ third line with Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty. Faulk, who has impressed ever since Carolina drafted him after Skinner in the second round of the 2010 draft, will have a tougher time cracking the NHL lineup to start the season due to the simple numbers game but has not looked out of place thus far. In Saturday’s practice, he reportedly worked alongside Tomas Kaberle, splitting up his pairing with recent draftee Ryan Murphy, who is also expected to play Sunday.
Rounding out recent Checkers in Sunday’s lineup is the Canes’ fourth line, which will consist of Brett Sutter, Jon Matsumoto and Jerome Samson. Fellow roster hopefuls Boychuk, Terry and Drayson Bowman, who all played in Friday’s exhibition loss to Nashville, will get the night off. Both of those groups represent the last remaining forward tryouts, as the Hurricanes further trimmed their camp roster on Saturday.
Along with Wednesday’s rematch of the preseason home-and-home series with Winnipeg, today’s game will mark one of the final chances for new players to show what they can do in preseason action. The Canes are likely to get down to their final group for their final exhibition match against Columbus on Friday.