The Carolina Hurricanes are 0-2 in the preseason and the winless start resulted in a louder-than-usual practice Wednesday.
Canes coach Bill Peters, who had used an instructional tone most of preseason, was more vocal and blunt in what he wanted, what he expected and what he plans to get from his players. The first group that practiced — the “NHL group,” Peters said — put in a long workout at PNC Arena that ended with extra skating.
The Canes were thumped 7-3 Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins, a day after a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals. Both preseason games were on the road and with different rosters as the Canes continue to sort through the 40-plus players left on the training camp roster.
“I didn’t like the compete at times. I didn’t think we competed hard enough,” Peters said of the two games. “Some guys were caught on the big stage, maybe, who weren’t quite ready but that’s what this time of year is for.”
The Canes did have a number of younger players sprinkled through the lineup in each game. Defenseman Noah Hanifin played his first professional game against the Pens, getting in more than 23 minutes of ice time and often found himself on the ice against the Pens’ Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.
“It was pretty surreal,” Hanifin said. “It was very fast. They move the puck very quick and they’re strong on the puck.”
Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm made up the Canes’ top line against the Pens and generally came up lacking, Peters said.
“There wasn’t enough there, not for me,” he said. “I didn’t think the Rask line was able to compete. They’re young kids and whether it was just a preseason game or not I don’t know, but they weren’t up to that quality.”
The top lines in the first practice Wednesday had Rask centering Eric Staal and Lindholm, Jordan Staal centering Joakim Nordstrom and Nathan Gerbe, Riley Nash at center with Skinner and Kris Versteeg and Jay McClement with Brad Malone and Andrej Nestrasil.
Hanifin played with Faulk in the Pens game as Ron Hainsey was not in the lineup. The top defensive pairs Wednesday were Hainsey-Faulk, James Wisniewski-John-Michael Liles and Hanifin-Michal Jordan. Ryan Murphy worked with Jaccob Slavin.
Cam Ward and Eddie Lack were the two goalies in the first practice. Ward gave up six goals on 21 shots against the Pens but Peters said the veteran goalie was “left out to dry” by some ineffective play in the defensive zone.
Of Hanifin’s play, Peters said, “It was fine. I think it was a big stage. They had their big lineup dressed and he played a lot against Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and Kessel. It doesn’t get much better than that, so he will only improve.”