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For Canes, it's time to play

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The Canes have put in their final preseason practice. It's finally time to play.

Canes coach Paul Maurice said today in Helsinki that he was comfortable with his team, even with the unusual circumstances the last few days -- the travel, the exhibition game in Russia, the practices in Finland before opening the season Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.

"I think we've had a good camp," he said. "It's harder to gauge certain things when you're not in your normal environment. But as far as the on-ice goes, the focus, the communication on the ice,  all the things we set out at the start of camp to be good at, we're still good at. ... I believe we're where we should be right now."

Maurice noted training camp was strenuous by design, saying, "Our plan was to be on the ice a little bit more than we were last year. We went long and hard for a while, then cut back. Yesterday and today were our two shortest practices. That was the plan."

Maurice indicated that defenseman Joe Corvo could be held out of the opener. Corvo, he said, has a "overuse injury" and that his status would be determined after the morning skate Thursday.

The Canes played four preseason games last year and had an abbreviated training camp. Things were more intense this year and Carolina scheduled seven preseason games -- a game at Florida last week was cancelled by the threat of a tropical storm.

The Canes have back-to-back games against the Minnesota Wild in the NHL Premiere in Helsinki, and are due to return to Raleigh at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. They are scheduled to take Sunday off, then participate in the Kids ‘N Community Foundation golf tournament (rained out Sept. 27) on Monday.

The Canes will practice at the RBC Center on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. before leaving Wednesday afternoon for Ottawa to begin a five-game road swing.

Forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has a home in Helsinki, said he enjoyed showing his teammates the sights the past few days, including a trip to Sauna Island. But it's time to get down to business, he said today.

"It's time to start the season," Ruutu said. "This has been great team bonding but we are really ready to start playing."

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It's on VS at 12, not

It's on VS at 12, not 9--unless you're on the west coast.

Good luck

boys and men!!! My DVR is set for 9:00am! Finally the season is starting. How exciting!!! See you in S.J. and L.A.!!! Go Caniacs!!! Go Canes!!!

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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