Monday, September 22, 2014

Canes Drop Preseason Opener to Columbus

The Carolina Hurricanes opened the preseason by dropping a 4-3 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Andrej Sekera, Riley Nash and Chris Terry netted goals for Carolina, two of which were scored on the power play. Overall, it was a mixed bag of execution on the ice, but ultimately, it was the first preseason game on the third day of training camp.

“You have two practices, and you can’t cover everything. It’s not realistic. If you look at the things we worked on, the execution was good,” Jeff Skinner, It could have been better in some places, but they got a breakaway goal and a couple wide-open shots from the slot. Those are things we can tighten up on. Overall, I think we had some good looks.”

-- The Hurricanes converted at a 40 percent clip on the power play. Of course, it’s just one game, but it’s a positive sign to see the team taking a step in the right direction after finishing 28th in the league last season on the man advantage.

The success has to be attributed somewhat to assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour’s dedicated power play work during the first two days of training camp. He’s kept the instruction simple so far, but the simplicity is what led to the execution.

“It was really good. I thought our power play was good,” head coach Bill Peters said. “You can’t give them everything in two days. It’s too much too soon, and then you overload guys and they’re paralyzed out there when they think.”

“You can get caught up in thinking too much when you run through so many things over the last two days,” Skinner said. “At the end of the day, you have to go out there and react.”

-- Some young kids got to see a fair bit of ice time today, and that’s to be expected throughout the preseason as the evaluation process continues.

Defenseman Haydn Fleury, 18, and forward Sergey Tolchinsky, 19, both saw over 15 minutes of ice time. Tolchinsky notched an assist on Terry’s power-play goal, as he fed the goal-scorer with a beauty of a cross-ice pass.

“They got some good ice time, and I think they had their eyes opened at times, too,” Peters said. “That’s part of being a kid and growing.”

-- Alex Nedeljkovic, 18, got his first NHL action in net, as well. He relieved Ward just past the 10-minute mark of the second period, as was planned. He only faced six shots, making five saves, but it was quite the experience for a kid drafted this summer that just got back to on-ice action within the last few weeks.

“It felt good. I felt pretty comfortable. The guys have treated me well and made me a part of the team, so it was a pretty easy transition,” he said. “Everything is a lot faster, and everyone is a lot bigger.”

-- Cam Ward started the game, making 10 saves on 13 shots. Peters noted that the Hurricanes didn’t surrender much in the way of quantity but suffered when it came to quality.

“I thought Wardo was good,” Peters said. “On the goals we gave up, there’s nothing those goaltenders can do. We’ve got to be better defensively.”

-- Sekera’s power play goal was a top-shelf slap shot from the top of the near circle. He’s picking up right where he left off in what was a career season for him, which is a good sign for the Canes’ blue line.

-- The Canes will be back on the ice on Monday morning for two group sessions. Then, it’s up to Buffalo and New York for a pair of midweek preseason games.

“The guys stayed with it. They believed,” Peters said. “Our veterans kept pushing, and we played everybody. We continued to play everybody to get a fair evaluation and good viewing on these guys.”

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