The Carolina Hurricanes got back on the ice on Thursday in preparation for their tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. The Canes have already defeated the Leafs twice this season, both by a margin of 4-1.
While the top line of Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Jiri Tlusty should remain intact for Friday, a few changes are expected elsewhere. Forwards Victor Rask and Alexander Semin will return to the lineup after being healthy extras in the team’s last two games. In practice, Rask centered Nathan Gerbe and Elias Lindholm, while Riley Nash was sandwiched by Jeff Skinner and Semin.
“We’ll have a good line there,” Peters said. “I’m really excited about the Skinner-Nash-Semin line. I think that should be a real good unit.”
Additionally, Andrej Nestrasil is expected to shift back to wing after playing a few games in the middle.
“We'll keep moving him around and playing him with some different players to make sure we know what we have by the end of the year,” Peters said after Monday night’s 6-3 win in Ottawa.
Jordan Assigned to Charlotte
The Hurricanes assigned defenseman Michal Jordan to Charlotte this morning so that the 24-year-old Czech Republic native will be available for the Checkers’ game against Iowa tonight.
Peters said the plan will be to recall him again at some point in the near future.
“We’ll get him back at some point. We’ll just wait and see how it plays out. They play another game here tonight, so we didn’t want them to be short. That’s not right,” Peters explained. “So for him to be able to go down is good for him to continue to play games this year. He’ll be back at some point.”
Until then, the Hurricanes will roll with six healthy defensemen with Ryan Murphy still on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Ward Approaches 500
Cam Ward is two games shy of playing in his 500th career NHL game. It’s a notable milestone that only three other active goalies have accomplished with one team – Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT) and Ryan Miller (BUF).
It’s not known yet when he’ll reach No. 500, though it’s unlikely to be this weekend. In a back-to-back scenario with travel, Ward will probably split starts with Anton Khudobin, leaving his 500th game to fall sometime in the final week of February.
“I’m going to meet with the guy and see what he wants. He deserves that respect,” Peters said. “So we have to sit down and have a little [chat].”
We’ll have more on Ward and his career leading up to No. 500 in the coming days.