– The Carolina Hurricanes are back on the road, and this next stretch away from home begins in Tampa Bay.
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s game in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as the day rolls on.
A quick preview of tonight’s game can be found below. The Canes will be on the ice at Amalie Arena for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate. Check back here then for roster notes, quotes and plenty more!Last updated: 12:30 p.m.
LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES12:30 p.m.
Andrej Nestrasil will indeed miss tonight's game with an injury, but it's not due to the blocked shot he had on Monday -- it's an upper-body concern, and he is day-to-day.
"We didn’t think much of it at the time. He was able to finish the game," head coach Bill Peters said. "But he wasn’t able to finish practice yesterday and was no better today.”
Alexander Semin (lower body) did not skate this morning, and he has been placed on injured reserve
, with the corresponding move being activating Brett Bellemore from IR. Bellemore missed seven games with a lower-body injury, and he along with Jay Harrison will be the healthy extras on defense tonight.
Jordan Staal took part in the team's morning skate today. Though he's yet to join full practices, it's another positive step in his rehab process.
"It’s encouraging and means he’s getting closer," Peters said. "Any time you have a positive sign like that, it’s good for him individually and good for us collectively."
A few random notes from after the skate: Victor Rask provided a festive atmosphere in the locker room post-skate with a holiday tunes playlist. ... Ron Hainsey will play in his 700th career game tonight. I asked him if he was aware of this milestone, and he said he wasn't. Well, now he is.
CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE11:30 a.m.
Here's what the Hurricanes should look like against the Lightning tonight.
Alexander Semin (lower body) did not skate. Andrej Nestrasil skated briefly, but he might still be feeling that blocked shot he took in the knee on Monday night against New Jersey.
We'll confirm all of this and more after the skate.
CANES LOOK TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN TAMPA BAY6:00 a.m.
After scoring just one goal in each of their last three games, the Carolina Hurricanes look to dial up the offensive production in order to snap a three-game losing streak.
They’ll attempt to do so in Tampa Bay in their first of two visits to the city this month.
“You’ve got to continue to work. I don’t think that’s been the issue,” head coach Bill Peters said. “We definitely need more traffic. We need to make it harder on the goalie and get in his eyes.”
Making it tougher on the opposing goaltender to see pucks and make saves has been Peters’ chief message though the team’s recent stretch of offensive struggles, struggles that have not been for a lack of quantity in shots but perhaps quality. Net-front traffic was the focus of the team’s practice on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a focus from here to the end of the year,” Peters said. “Whether we have to designate a guy to go to the net per line, I don’t know what we have to do, but we definitely have to get somebody in the goalie’s eyes to make it harder on them.
“It’s a willingness to go there. Take your turn – it doesn’t matter who you are or if you’re big, small or medium-sized. You can go to the net,” he continued. “We’ve got to make sure we’re going there with a purpose and the intent of sticking around.”
Net-front traffic is going to be especially important against 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop, who is going to otherwise see much of the rubber thrown at him.
Though they’ve dropped two in a row and three of their last four games, Tampa Bay sits at 18-8-3 (39 points) in second place in the Atlantic Division.
“They’re deep. They have team speed, and they play up-tempo,” Peters said of the opposition. “They work hard, and they’re a competitive group.”
Both teams will be looking to snap losing streaks – and one team will be successful.
“It’s a disease, for sure, and it’s got to be corrected. You can’t accept it,” Peters said of losing. “All those one-goal losses and tight games at home, that’s frustrating, to be honest with you. … We’ve got to channel that frustration in the right direction and stay with it. We will. And we’ll find ways to score.”
Eric Staal, who played in Monday night’s game against New Jersey but did not practice on Wednesday, is probable for tonight’s game. Staal is a point-per-game player against Tampa Bay with 66 points (31g, 35a) in 61 games.
“I’m hoping so,” Peters said of Staal’s potential availability. “Staalsy will skate in the morning and will be a game-time decision.”
Meanwhile, Alexander Semin is doubtful with a lower-body injury.
“He’s more dinged up than Eric is,” Peters said.
Though not confirmed, Cam Ward looks to make his 20th start in net of the season. It would be his 38th career appearance against the former Southeast Division foes.
“He’s been real good. The problem that we’ve had is the run support for him and Dobby. We’ve got to do a better job of making sure they can play with a lead,” Peters said. “He is a very stable force back there for us.”
NOTES: A couple of milestones on the horizon: Ron Hainsey is one game shy of 700 career games played, and Jeff Skinner is two points shy of 200 career points. … Tampa Bay has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two clubs, outscoring the Canes 29-9 in that stretch.