Canes hoping new faces, young core will lead to fast start
Posted October 6
Raleigh, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes are confident that they have a team that can have a breakthrough season.
The Hurricanes will take the first shot at showing their power against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night (7 p.m.) at PNC Arena.
The season opener for the Hurricanes comes with more established players to go with a young core that the organization is counting on carrying them into the postseason.
"What moves we made were pretty exciting," Carolina center Jeff Skinner said. "As a player on this team, it's exciting. They put us in a good spot. Everyone has let us know that. ... It seems like people are starting to notice a little bit. It's better than people not talking."
The Wild will be trying to correct problems that dogged the team during a season-opening 4-2 loss Thursday night at Detroit.
"We'll clean some stuff up and get ready for Carolina," Minnesota right winger Chris Stewart said.
While the Wild have absorbed an early setback, the Hurricanes have been slow starters for several seasons. Autumn games haven't been kind to them, so there has been an emphasis throughout the preseason to be in good form from the beginning.
"I want to be a more consistent team this year in the ability to gather points," coach Bill Peters said.
The Hurricanes, who haven't played in the postseason since 2009, are in search of any new trend that will send them in a positive direction. The team announced Thursday that center Jordan Staal and defenseman Justin Faulk will serve as co-captains, while Skinner will be the full-time alternate.
So this makes the first game a bit more unique because the Hurricanes didn't have a designated captain last season. The most-recent captain was current Wild center Eric Staal, who was traded to the New York Rangers in February 2016. Staal is the older brother of the new Carolina co-captain,
"To wear the 'C' playing against Eric is going to be really cool," Jordan Staal said. "That's going to make opening night even more exciting."
From the Carolina side, it marks the debut of newly acquired goalie Scott Darling and the homecoming for winger Justin Williams, who was a member of the franchise's 2006 Stanley Cup champion team.
Darling, who stands 6-foot-6, was brought aboard to be the No. 1 goalie as Cam Ward is expected to serve as the backup,
"Fortunately, I've played with new teams, so I'm used to being the new guy," Darling said. "But it's nice to know some guys."
Those include Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger, who all -- like Darling -- also have backgrounds with the Chicago Blackhawks.
For the Wild, this is the middle contest of a three-game, season-opening road stretch before the home opener Oct. 14. The first outing resulted in too many lapses in the defensive zone, coach Bruce Boudreau said.
"We preach a lot about protecting our house," Boudreau said. "(Two Detroit) goals came right from the same area (the slot)."
Minnesota's Matt Cullen and Eric Staal will play as teammates in Raleigh for the first time since Feb. 11, 2010, when Cullen played his last game in a Hurricanes' jersey.
This marks the 20th anniversary season of the Hurricanes franchise relocation to North Carolina from Hartford, Conn.