SUNRISE, Fla. -- The lineup is set for the Carolina Hurricanes' season opener. The only thing left is to drop the puck.
Canes coach Kirk Muller will use Zach Boychuk on the top line with Eric Staal and Alex Semin. Zac Dalpe will open with center Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. The third line, as it has been most of training camp this week, will have Jussi Jokinen centering Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose.
One of Muller's final decisions was on the fourth line for the opener against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. He will go with Tim Brent at center, with Drayson Bowman and Pat Dwyer on the wings. Kevin Westgarth and Jeremy Welsh will be healthy scratches.
Defensively, the Canes will sit Jamie McBain tonight against Florida. Tim Gleason will be paired with Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen with Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison with Bobby Sanguinetti.
"Looking at tonight's game, I think having four lines ... is important," Muller said. "We'd like to think we're ready to go in terms of conditioning, but with the bad ice I think it's nice to have four lines ready. I think that fourth line gives us a good skating line. Florida is more of a flowing, skating type team. So I think that line will match up well.
"They gave us a little trouble last year because of the style they play. I think we know them better. They want to play a high tempo, up and down, free-for-all kind of game. What we have to do is be careful we don't get into a run-and-gun style, sloppy. We don't mind the tempo but we have to do it with discipline."
Cam Ward will start the opener in goal as the Canes take on the defending Southeast Division champs, who will hold a banner-raising before the game.
Both Boychuk and Dalpe have NHL experience. It's not like they're rookies. But they know a lot of eyes will be on them and realize it's important to just play their own games and not try to do too much, too fast.
"Any time you get put with Eric Staal there's a lot of pressure," Boychuk said after today's morning skate. "But I've been there before and I think I can draw on those experiences. It also helps that I've played a few games down in Charlotte (AHL). I feel like I'm ready to take advantage of this opportunity."
Pressure? Boychuk is on a line with the captain, with a $7 million free agent. What pressure?
"Exactly. This is kind of the dream, the way you draw it up," Boychuk said, smiling. "The last couple of years haven't quite gone that way but now I'm here and looking forward to it. It's my first time making the team out of training camp. It feels good. You don't have to start with a disappointment and a setback. Just look forward to take advantage."
Dalpe said many of the same things as Boychuk. He also said his line offers a little of everything.
"I'm excited. I'm not nervous or anything," Dalpe said. "Jordan brings experience and size and 'Skins' brings some creativity and maybe I bring the speed. Hopefully that combination can bring good things.
"You are excited, skating with guys like that. At the same time, you want to stay in the moment and take advantage of it. Hopefully we can create some chemistry tonight."
Muller said it may be good that the Canes are opening on the road. The homer opener is Tuesday, but this game gives the team the chance to get away from Raleigh and get the first-game jitters out of the way.
"There will be ceremonies and a lot going on," Muller said. "A lot of times, when you're on the road, the focus is more on doing everything properly and you don't have to put a show on. I think for the very start that's not a bad thing for your hockey team.
"The guys are focused, they're ready. They're energized. The main thing is it may be sloppy because the ice is so bad. That's a major factor when you play down here. So for the first game it will interesting. If it's like that you're going to see a lot of sloppy play that way."