Although there were some bodies missing from Thursday’s practice, the pace of the session did not suffer. After looking sluggish at times in Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Coach Paul Maurice demanded no less.
“Some speed through the neutral zone and skate,” he said quickly when asked about the emphasis of the practice. “Just skate and get to the net. Skate and get to the net.”
In addition to well-documented injuries to Eric Staal and Cam Ward, the Canes were also without Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle, who picked up injuries in the previous night’s game, as well as Tim Gleason and Ray Whitney, who were held out for maintenance reasons.
That left Maurice with a smaller group then he would have liked, but the coach had little choice but to work with what was at his disposal.
“You’d like to make your point to the entire group and have them all working on it at the same time, but we made sure we got to the guys who weren’t on the ice to explain what we were doing today in practice,” he said. “When you’re not feeling good about yourselves, it’s just so easy to break off into your own smaller groups, and the injuries almost make that happen. You’d rather have everybody out on the ice to deal with it together, but that’s what we have.”
Maurice said that Walker and Yelle are possible for Friday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, but that would not be known for sure until tomorrow. Gleason and Whitney are expected to play.
Tim Conboy was one of the players at practice, despite being placed on waivers earlier in the day. He has not appeared in the lineup since the Halloween matinee in Philadelphia, in which logged 6:43 of ice time. For the season, he is averaging just 4:14 per game.
Despite his positional flexibility – Conboy is a natural defenseman who has played most of his 57 NHL games at forward – the Canes have recently turned elsewhere when lineup spots become open. The most recent example came prior to the Los Angeles game, when the team recalled Bryan Rodney from Albany of the AHL and made Conboy a healthy scratch.
Now in the second of his current two-year deal, Conboy is on a one-way contract, meaning the team will not save money by reassigning him to Albany. If Conboy were to go unclaimed, any following moves would likely depend on the playing status of Walker and Yelle.