The Canes got in some early power play work today before the morning skate, and the forwards on the two units were pretty predictable: Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Brandon Sutter.
Sutter is happy to be in that mix. He had five power-play goals two years ago, when he finished with 21 goals, but had limited power-play time last season as his total goals dipped to 14.
"For sure you always put up a few more points when you're playing it," Sutter said today. "We'll see what happens. I think it will depend on how games go.
"I think for myself if we're killing off some penalties and things like that, my power-play time might be a little more limited. But if there are nights when I get a chance to go out there, it would be nice and I'll just try to enjoy it."
Staal, Skinner and Jokinen worked with the first power-play unit today, with Joni Pitkanen and Tomas Kaberle at the points. Ryan Murphy and Jamie McBain were used at the points, as were Justin Faulk and Tim Gleason.
"He's the key penalty killer, the key shutdown centerman," Canes coach Paul Maurice said of Sutter. "And we expect him to generate offense, and now it's about adding minutes to his game.
"I think he looks bigger, stronger. We expect that every year he will push for more minutes and there's a place for him to get it. He's been a 20-goal guy already. Can he get to 25 or 30? Sometimes on the power play you're picking up two or three more, but that also changes your confidence a little bit and it makes you play a little more offensively five on five."
For tonight's exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sutter will center Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose. Zac Dalpe stays on Eric Staal's line with Ponikarovsky, and Ruutu will center Skinner and Jokinen. The fourth line will have Tim Brent at center with Pat Dwyer and Anthony Stewart.
Maurice said center Riley Nash and defenseman Derek Joslin, along with Murphy and McBain, would not play tonight. Murphy and Nash should play Saturday against Nashville in the final preseason game, Maurice said.
Maurice was asked today if he was committed to playing Dalpe on Staal's line when the regular season begins next week, or if he still was looking at line combinations.
"The opportunity for that to happen is absolutely there," Maurice said. "The next two games will help us decide if it's working."