The energy from the players and coaching staff was high following the team’s most complete game during the preseason.
Yes, it was an exhibition game victory over a team that is going through a rebuilding process, but there were notable differences in Carolina’s performance.
“Build on last night, for sure,” head coach Bill Peters said.
“We did some good things. We threw a few wrinkles at the guys on the bench and they handled it well. We’ll have video tomorrow that they can see to reinforce that, and we’ll continue to get better and better as we go with more confidence in each other.”
With a smaller roster, the team more closely resembled what the opening night lineup would look like and made it easier for those remaining to focus on starting to formulate some consistency in their play.
“It’s a smaller group and yesterday was the first time that a lot of these guys played with each other,” forward Nathan Gerbe said.
“It’s preseason and we’re startin’ to put line combos together, so I think they’re excited, fired up and eager to get started. You forget it’s preseason sometimes and you’re out there flyin’ around. It’s always good to win. It’d be nice to win tomorrow and end the preseason on a winning streak.”
“We need Browny to play,” Peters said.
“Browny’s a first-year pro and he needs to get down to Charlotte and get goin’ with them…Browny’s versatile because he can play the left side, he can play in the middle, he can take draws on the right side on his backhand side very strong. He gives us nice options. He’s a smart player in all three zones. I don’t know what he’s gonna’ be as a pro for sure; I don’t wanna’ pigeonhole him – top six, bottom six, checking line center, power forward? I don’t know what he’s gonna’ be, but I know he needs to play lots, and the best place for that is Charlotte.”
With 24 players remaining, and forward Chad LaRose still in the mix, Peters will give him another shot to make an impression in D.C.
“Yeah, the only way he’s not is if I hear from somebody higher than my pay grade to tell me he can’t play, and for me, he’s playin’.”
Goaltender Anton Khudobin will get the start, and in addition to LaRose, Chris Terry and defenseman John-Michael Liles will play against Washington, with Brett Bellemore potentially playing as well.
Peters said he expected to head into the team’s opening night on Friday against the New York Islanders with 23 on the active roster.
“What the combination to get to 23 is, we’re not sure of yet.”