RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes are 2-0 after back-to-back wins in Buffalo and Tampa Bay on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Why not play three in a row? The Lightning followed Carolina back to Raleigh for a preseason game tonight at 7 p.m. at PNC Arena. Here are some tidbits from the morning skate.
• Anyone hoping to see Scott Darling in his Hurricanes debut tonight will be disappointed. Darling is “a little banged up” according to coach Bill Peters. Cam Ward will get the start and be relieved after 30 or 40 minutes by Jeremy Smith. Lee Stempniak is also battling an ailment and won’t play.
• After tonight’s game, Darling and Stempniak will be among the few remaining players in camp to have not played in any of the three preseason games. Forwards Steven Lorentz (ankle), Nicolas Roy (concussion) and Valentin Zykov (shoulder surgery) have all not dressed for a game. Both Lorentz and Zykov have practiced all week — the latter in a no-contact jersey — and Roy joined the second group today in a yellow sweater. Defenseman Justin Faulk, Tyler Ganly and Keegan Kanzig will not have played yet after tonight.
• There’s lots of grumbling from coaches and players about the way games have been officiated thus far this preseason, specifically tighter enforcement of slashing and faceoff rules. One player in the Canes locker room scoffed at the idea of the NHL continuing to call so many slashes (Carolina has been called for seven in two preseason games), while Peters said, “I’ll be surprised if they call it that close in December and January and February and Game 7.”
As for the false start-esque faceoffs, Peters questioned why it was only being enforced in the offensive zones and not the neutral zone. “I want to get an answer to that and hopefully we’ll have that by this afternoon or even maybe next couple days,” he said. “We just need to know what the rules of engagement are, then we’ll be fine.”
• Peters has made it pretty clear newcomer Marcus Kruger will be paired with Joakim Nordstrom, probably at even strength and on the penalty kill. They got a lot of practice Tuesday, with Kruger playing 6:10 of his 17:58 shorthanded, and Nordstrom logging 4:38 of his 14:41 at 5 on 4. But nobody played more on the kill than defenseman Klas Dahlbeck, who was out for 8:36 when down a man.
• Peters said the coaches and management would meet tomorrow to discuss the next round of cuts. The AHL’s Charlotte Checkers kick off their training camp a week from today and play preseason games Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 at Lehigh Valley, so the Hurricanes will need to thin out the group soon.