One of the longest breaks in the Hurricanes’ schedule comes at an opportune time.
The team, which has now lost five straight and is dealing with a number of injuries, will get a chance to rest and prepare for a tough month of December, which kicks off with Saturday’s home game with Vancouver and continues with a treacherous four-game road trip through Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Washington and Ottawa.
Not counting the Olympic Break, the current four-day pause between games matches an early-January stretch for the longest rest period of the Hurricanes’ season.
”We’ve got 13 guys on the ice. We need it,” said Coach Paul Maurice after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve battled injuries, but I think the bigger challenge for us is the number of players we’ve had in our lineup that aren’t 100 percent. We had the day off yesterday with the idea of putting as many guys out there as we could, and we still only have 13 skaters. We clearly have some issues that we’re tending to right now.”
Missing from the on-ice session were Chad LaRose, Jussi Jokinen, Sergei Samsonov, Brandon Sutter and Ray Whitney, although Scott Walker continued to practice with the team in hopes that he will be available Saturday. As of now, all have a chance to play on Saturday, but nothing will be definitive until later in the week.
Goaltender Cam Ward again skated with recent U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Tom Barrasso. Maurice said that he does not expect him to return for his original target date on Saturday, but that he should be able to play on the following road swing.
“He’s so day-to-day at this point,” said Maurice. “He’s going to take a lot of shots soon, and then we’ll see how he comes back from that and how sore he is. These last few days he’s worked hard, which is a great sign, but obviously there has to be enough pain-free movement to really push your body.”
Another obvious absence from practice was defenseman Joe Corvo, who has been released from a local hospital following a severe laceration to his leg that required surgery and is expected to miss 8-12 weeks. Along with Ward's, Corvo's injury marked the second time a Hurricanes player was injured by an opponent's skate during month of November.
"I've never seen that," said Maurice. "The fact of the matter is that with both of those we should be thankful, because they both could have been career-ending for two critical guys."