The Carolina Hurricanes’ morning skate was noticeably more rambunctious on Tuesday, as the boisterous tones of forward Chad LaRose echoed through the rink.
After getting the green-light following a full-contact practice with the team on Monday, LaRose will return to the lineup tonight. He’s missed the team’s last 10 games with a concussion.
“I’m very excited to be back with my teammates,” he said. “Just coming back home and having a home game here against the Jets is a big night for me.
“These are my brothers here, so it’s good to be back on the ice with them, chatting it up and having some laughs.”
In his last game played on March 2 against Florida, LaRose took a number of big hits, at times getting to his feet a bit woozy. Though he logged 14:04 of ice time, doctors held him out of the last five minutes of the game for testing.
He didn’t travel or practice with the team for just over two weeks following that game, a torturous time for a notoriously energetic player.
“[It was] very tough. I always want to be out there whether it’s one game or whatever,” he said. “You always want to be out there with your teammates. It’s hard to watch, especially when you are in a bit of a slide. It hurts not to be able to help or do something out there.”
Concussions are unfortunately unique in that symptoms can be hard to diagnose and cases are so variable. What Jeff Skinner has gone through twice in his NHL career – both of which were distinct occurrences – isn’t exactly the same as what LaRose experienced. There, of course, were times when he felt ready but just quite wasn’t.
“Yeah, of course. I always want to play and rush back,” he said. “The doctors and trainers have done an excellent job in keeping me ready and making sure I’m held back until I’m prepared.”
Looking to right the ship after a five-game winless streak, the Hurricanes will certainly welcome back any healthy body. LaRose will skate on the second line with Skinner and Jordan Staal, and based on scenarios in practice, he should see some time on the second power play unit, as well.
“They’ve been playing well. When they came in here, they beat us,” LaRose said, referring to the team’s 4-3 loss to Winnipeg on Feb. 21. “We’ve got to play our style and worry about ourselves, and the game will take care of itself.”
Following a four-day gap between games that featured two off days, the Hurricanes should be well-rested in advance of this first of two meetings with Winnipeg this week. With three games in hand, the Canes trail the Jets by four points in the standings.
“I think they all know the importance of tonight’s game and this week,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “We’ve just got to get back to that part of our game where we’re hungry and more aggressive.”
With both Cam Ward (knee) and Dan Ellis (leg) on injured reserve, the Hurricanes will tap Justin Peters as their starting goaltender tonight. John Muse, who backstopped the Florida Everblades to a Kelly Cup Title in the 2011-12 season, was recalled from Charlotte on Monday, his first NHL recall.
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