Bob Wage runs Canes Country, SB Nation's dedicated Carolina Hurricanes' blog. He answered three questions in preparation for tonight's contest.
Kevin Kraczkowski (Matchsticks & Gasoline): Has Cam Ward completely regressed to this point? Is there a call for him to be relegated to number two?
Bob Wage (Canes Country): Short answer, yes. Last season, Khudobin won the number one spot and Ward was relegated to number two most of the year, (when he was healthy enough to play). He ended up with a .898 save percentage and a 10-12-6 record compared to .926 and 19-14-1 for Khudobin. The jury is still out this season, although Khudobin has the early edge with a .912 save percentage to .846 for Ward.
Neither goalie has won a game yet though, so look for Ward to be given another chance tonight.
KK (M&G): If the Canes have a strong point in the early going, it would have to be the power play (4-for-15 as I write this). Does Bill Peters have a plan to rely on his pests (Nathan Gerbe, Tim Gleason) to try and draw more penalties?
BW (CC): (As of today, Gerbe is hurt and may not play). I'm not sure he and Gleason are very good at drawing penalties, so much so that it is part of a plan, but they do indeed try to be pests. There has been special emphasis by the team on improving the powerplay and as you say, so far they have shown great improvement over last season, (25% versus 14.6%). The biggest improvement is their ability to bring the puck in the zone and get set up to run a play. They spent most of their time chasing the puck, dumping it in the zone, then chasing it some more, last season. Primary kudos should go to Rod Brind'Amour, who was given this task over the offseason.
KK (M&G): Chris Terry has been a nice surprise for you, with four points in four games. Who else should we be watching for tonight?
BW (CC): Riley Nash has probably been the most consistent, overall player for the Canes so far this season. He leads the team in faceoff percentage, is second with four points, has a good (plus/minus), and plays responsibly in all zones. For a player who was expected to be challenged for third line center duties this season, his improvement has been a pleasant surprise.
Also watch for Andrej Sekera, who is the team's best defenseman, and Jiri Tlusty, who leads the team with four goals in five games.
My answers to Bob's questions can be found here.
I'd like to thank Bob for swapping off these questions with me, and for his thoughtful and well informed answers. Go to Canes Country for more on Carolina, and check back here throughout the day as we prepare for gametime with our preview, a live GameThread, and our award winning recap.