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Gameday: Canes Gear Up for Season Without Key Players

Thursday, 09.26.2013 / 12:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Canes Gear Up for Season Without Key Players
The Carolina Hurricanes are gearing up for their final two exhibition matches, the first of which is tonight in Columbus followed by a Friday evening game at PNC Arena against Buffalo.

Michael Smith
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And they’re doing so without a number of top players.

Alexander Semin (upper-body), Tuomo Ruutu (lower-body) and Tim Gleason (upper-body) have all missed practice time this week with injuries, and they will not be in the lineup against Columbus. Elias Lindholm (upper-body) has not played since the team’s preseason opener last Wednesday, and he continues to be sidelined.

“It’s what it is, I guess,” Canes head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’d be nice if you had everything in sync this weekend with your lines and D-pairs. But injuries are a part of the game, and you have to ad-lib it.”

Jeff Skinner is the newest addition to the injured list, as he will be held aside with a lower-body concern. Muller said the 21-year-old forward is doubtful for the team’s preseason finale on Friday.

“We just want to be smart and not push him right now with these exhibition games,” Muller said.

With the team’s injury list swelling, opportunity knocks for a number of players still fighting for a roster spot. Muller said earlier this week that final cuts will likely be made over the weekend.

“We haven’t made all the final cuts, so there are opportunities for guys to keep playing and keep battling for opportunities,” he said. “We have two games left to do it, so we’ll fine-tune things and make the most of it.”

Among those receiving enhanced playing time include Chris Terry, who slides up to a first-line wing position in Semin’s absence, and Jeremy Welsh, who enters the lineup with Skinner out.

Cam Ward is slated to start in net against the Blue Jackets. Muller said he will make a decision on Friday’s starting goaltender following tonight’s game.

Muller teased a varied look on the back-end in the final two preseason games. Mike Komisarek and Matt Corrente are the uninjured extras for tonight’s match.

“You’ll see a whole different look tomorrow night,” Muller said. “We’re not totally set on our whole roster right now.”

A focal point in practice this week has been special teams, and though it’s impossible to predict how much of a role the power play and penalty kill will play in tonight’s game, there are certain aspects Muller will monitor.

“[On the power play] it’s just chemistry and execution and getting that killer instinct to score,” he said. “In penalty kill, it’s finding the right combos of guys and working on the details.”

Compared to last week’s slate of preseason games, which was more geared toward player evaluation, these final two exhibitions give Muller and his staff a chance to see what needs some last-minute tweaking before Detroit comes to Raleigh on Oct. 4.

“Tonight it’s just about getting sharper in some areas,” Muller said. “It’s a good game to fine-tune stuff and see what areas guys have connected on … and what areas we have to spend a little bit more time on in the week before opening night.”

Tonight’s Lineup

Tlusty-E. Staal-Terry
Gerbe-J. Staal-Dwyer
Bowman-Nash-Dvorak
Welsh-Sutter-Westgarth

Sekera-Faulk
Murphy-Hainsey
Harrison-Bellemore

Ward, Khudobin



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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