The Canes practiced with a full squad on Tuesday for the first time in several days, sporting a bit of a new look in the process.
The well-attended practice (only those with documented long-term injuries were missing) allowed Coach Paul Maurice to shift his line combinations, with Ray Whitney back on Eric Staal
’s line and Sergei Samsonov skating with Rod Brind’Amour, among other changes. Full combinations can be found here
While the effect will be felt on each of the team’s top three lines, Maurice singled out Matt Cullen’s new line with Chad LaRose and Scott Walker as the one he was hoping would provide a boost to the team’s struggling offense. In playing with Cullen, who ranks fourth on the team in total ice time per game, those two wingers should see increased minutes, with Maurice hoping that their tenacious style rubs off on the rest of the team.
”We need to get LaRose and Walker going a little bit, just in terms of their ability to get on the ice more,” said Maurice. “I think their energy level is something that we need, and we need to see them a little bit more on the ice.”
Those groups got a good practice in today, after several of the key players were kept on the sidelines on Sunday and Monday to nurse various minor ailments
“I think the rest was really important for those guys because they all skated well,” Maurice said. “We took our time warming them up, but we were looking for some sharpness and some pace in our practice.”
The head coach indicated that would be important for tomorrow night’s game against the winless New York Islanders, who haven’t yet put together their up-and-coming young talent in an 0-3-3 start but could easily surprise a team who takes them lightly.
“They work their butt off, and they’ve got some high-end young talent there,” said Maurice. “I think they deserved to win maybe two or three of the games that they’ve played and just got some strange breaks and bounces, which are things that happen to young teams until they catch fire, and then watch out.”
We’ve got more on the Islanders game – which will be Ray Whitney’s 1,000th NHL game and 300th with the Hurricanes – as well as upcoming games in Colorado and Minnesota on this morning's edition of the podcast.