Hurricanes can't wait to go home

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:20 PM ET

There will be sharples.

Lots of sharples.

That's the favoured card game among the Carolina Hurricanes, led by veteran Tom Kostopoulos, who is looking forward to dealing with the youngsters.

"The young guys think they're good," he said.

The Carolina Hurricanes' current trip isn't exactly the trip to or from hell, just spanning St. Petersburg, Russia to Los Angeles, a distance of 9,193 kilometres with stops in Helsinki, Raleigh (laundry), Ottawa, Vancouver, San Jose and Phoenix along the way.

The Hurricanes won't play their home opener until Oct. 27.

Jeff Skinner started the season as an 18-year-old with the 'Canes. It only seems like he'll be 20 by the time he plays in Raleigh.

Carolina captain Eric Staal will miss his family and little boy at home, but looks forward to having some time to read and, being a movie guy, catching up.

"I hear 'The Town' is pretty good," he said.

Coach Paul Maurice is trying not to make the trip a big deal.

"I look at it this way," he said. "I'm going to know everything about the players on this young team by the 14-game mark. It's very difficult to a put a young team in this situation. But it can be an emotional distraction or an awesome team-building experience. I have to think it's the latter."

HEAR AND THERE

The Nashville Predators have done an unbelievable job of developing goalies. They steal Tomas Vokoun from the Habs and Chris Mason comes along. Then Pekka Rinne emerges in 2009-10. Now he gets hurt and Anders Lindback steps in and wins his first two starts ... The Rangers had Ace Frehley of KISS perform at their home opener Friday night. They wanted the whole band but didn't have the cap room.

JUST SAYING

I don't know what's more shocking: The fact the Calgary Flames have scored just three goals (one into an empty net) in three games or that they managed to win one of those games ... So the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a great start and pulling in monster ratings (more than two million viewers on TSN Wednesday) and here's a Saturday night when they're not playing (CBC cringes). It's actually one of four Saturdays this season they're not in action ... The comment by Leafs coach Ron Wilson about not really noticing Clarke MacArthur as a player before he got to the Leafs carries on a tradition started by Pat Burns. "I wouldn't know Bill Berg if I ran over him with my truck," Burns said after the Leafs picked up Berg on waivers ... Great move by the Dallas Stars to add Gary Roberts as a player development consultant. Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk and Roberts have been friends since childhood, and Nieuwendyk knows first-hand Roberts' commitment to fitness and nutrition as teammates.

THE BUZZ

The Pittsburgh Penguins had to be hoping back-to-back games against the New York Islanders Friday and Philadelphia Flyers Saturday would help get captain Sidney Crosby going (two points in four games so far). Crosby has had the most scoring success against those two teams: 18 goals and 43 assists for 61 points in 31 career games against the Isles and 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points in 32 games against Philly ... Poolies can't be happy San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan has separated Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Each is on a different line to try to boost even-strength scoring. How's that working? The Sharks had one 5-on-5 goal in their two games against Columbus in Sweden. Something to watch.

PARTING SHOT

Maurice was not happy with what he thought was a missed blindside hit -- now punishable in-game -- by Ottawa's Nick Foligno on Carolina's Patrick Dwyer Thursday night. "The upside is (the NHL) will have more video to send us next year."

CHANGING LINES

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

You did a photo shoot for Vanity Fair with Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres taking the pictures. How did that work out for you?

"It was about 20-25 minutes. I threw on an outfit and he shot the pictures. It was pretty light and fun. I saw the pictures and he made me look good. He's got some talent in that field."

You won the Rocket Richard Trophy last year, so you were doing something right. Did you train with ex-NHLer Gary Roberts again this summer?

"What an awful experience (laughing). It seemed to work after the first summer, so why not do it again?"

He has some, umm, interesting ideas about diet and nutrition.

"Gary had all the meals prepared for us after every workout, all ready to go from a place called Nature's Emporium. I'd never seen anything like that. I didn't even know what some of it was. There wasn't any mayo."

How do you follow up last year's 51 goals?

"The next step is consistency. You look around the league at all the great players and they are consistent year in and year out."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

SERGEI GONCHAR

The defenceman will return to Pittsburgh with the Ottawa Senators for their meeting Monday night. Gonchar hasn't clicked with his new teammates yet and the Penguins look like they've missed him, especially on the power play.

CLARKE MACARTHUR

The Toronto winger is off to a great start and is tied for the league lead in goal scoring going into Friday night's games with four. He's also done it with the least amount of ice time among the top 23 scorers in the league (an average of just 15:25 a night).

BRAD RICHARDS

The Dallas Stars centre was tied for the league lead in scoring going into Friday night's game with seven points in just three games and was tied for the league lead in plus/minus at plus-5. He's due to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

GO FIGURE

32:03 -- The average ice time going into Friday night's game in Columbus for Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith, almost four minutes more than Carolina's Joni Pitkanen, who's second. Keith averaged 26:35 last season and went over the 30-minute mark in only eight games. He had broken the 30-minute barrier in all four games the 'Hawks have played going into Friday.

6 -- The number of Vancouver Canucks who had career highs in goals last season: Henrik Sedin, 29; Ryan Kesler, 25; Alex Burrows, 35; Mikael Samuelsson, 30; Mason Raymond, 25; and Christian Ehrhoff, 14. They finished second in the league with 268 goals, but getting back to that level could be a challenge if most of those guys don't come close matching last season's output.

14 -- The number of consecutive games the Minnesota Wild have beaten the Edmonton Oilers in Minnesota following Thursday night's 4-2 win. That ties the Nashville Predators for the longest current consecutive home winning streak against one opponent. The Preds' patsies are the Columbus Blue Jackets. Something to consider when filling out that sports lottery ticket?

19.72 -- What the New York Islanders are charging for a ticket for their game Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. "Islanders 1972 Rollback Night" allows customers to purchase two tickets at that price. The Islanders came into the league in 1972 and went 12-60-6. In their first two home games, the Islanders have had announced crowds of 13,351 and 11,748.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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