Carolina’s six-game road trip to start year ‘not ideal’ says Francis

AP
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Last year, the ‘Canes played eight of their first 10 games on the road and didn’t fare all that well, going 4-6-0.

Now they’re hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

“I mean, six in a row and eight of the first 10 on the road, with a young team – that’s not an ideal situation for us,” Carolina GM Ron Francis said, per the News & Observer. “But it is what it is. And hopefully we get out there and get a few wins under our belt.

“There’s no sense in complaining about what we face. Let’s go make the most of it.”

The ‘Canes open tonight in Winnipeg, then have a couple nights off before playing in Vancouver on Sunday. From there, it’s Edmonton on Oct. 18, Calgary on Oct. 20, Philly on Oct. 22 and Detroit on Oct. 25.

That means Carolina won’t play its first home games until Friday, Oct. 28 (versus the Rangers) and Sunday, Oct. 30 (versus Philly). And once those are done, the ‘Canes are back out for another pair of road games in Ottawa and Nashville.

Phew.

As Francis mentioned, that kind of schedule can be tough on a young, inexperienced team unfamiliar with the rigors of NHL travel. The ‘Canes certainly are young — the defense is highlighted by four guys under the age of 23 (Noah Hanifin, Roland McKeown, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin), while the forward group includes 19-year-old Sebastian Aho, 21-year-old Elias Lindholm and 22-year-old Teuvo Teravainen.

But if the opening night of the year showed anything, it’s that the game is all about the kids right now. Auston Matthews lit it up for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, and Connor McDavid did the same in Edmonton.

Francis is hopeful his young charges can do something similar.

Related: A ‘very difficult road trip’ is looming for the Ducks