Silvertips emphasizing special teams this weekend

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips are back in action this weekend, and after a second week to work with the players, head coach Kevin Constantine is ready to start looking at more specific aspects of the game.

Everett plays two preseason games this weekend when the Tips travel to the Tri-City Americans Preseason Tournament in Kennewick. Everett faces Portland at 11 a.m. today, then plays Kootenay at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Tips are off to a solid start to their preseason schedule. Everett played its first three games last weekend while hosting the Holiday Inn Preseason Classic at Comcast Arena, finishing a perfect 3-0.

The coaches had only worked with the players for a week prior to last weekend’s tournament, so Constantine was mainly concerned with the level of effort the players put forth. But with another week of teaching implemented, Constantine will be doing more evaluation within the framework of the team’s systems.

“We had a big specialty teams emphasis this week,” Constantine said. “We didn’t talk much about special teams last weekend, we talked more about our five-on-five game. So we spent a lot of time in meetings and practices this week working on the power play and penalty kill. There will be an increased interest in how they’re implementing those areas of the game.”

Everett still has 31 players on its roster. The team is expected to carry approximately 24 during the season, so several decisions still need to be made. How the players perform this weekend will play a major role in some of those decisions.

However, the Tips will be missing six top players this weekend because of NHL rookie training camps. Forwards Reid Petryk (Edmonton), Jujhar Khaira (Edmonton) and Linden Penner (Calgary), and defensemen Ben Betker (Edmonton) and Mirco Mueller (San Jose) will be playing at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. Goaltender Austin Lotz (Carolina) is at the Traverse City (Mich.) Prospects Tournament.

Everett is expected to make more cuts following the weekend. How many cuts the team makes may depend on how many players return from their NHL camps. Petryk, Khaira and Mueller are thought to have at least some chance of playing professionally this season. Khaira and Mueller are already slated to advance to their teams’ main camps following the weekend.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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