The All-Star break is closing in for the Carolina Hurricanes. Four games, including three straight at home, remain for the team before everyone except for All-Star Justin Faulk
skedaddle for a multi-day respite away from the rink.
Prior to the stretch of four games in six days that leads the team into the All-Star break the Canes find themselves with a three-day gap in between matches, so much-needed practice time has filled the schedule.
“It’s a great little block of time we have to finish up prior to the All-Star break,” head coach Bill Peters said. “We’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Following a planned day off on Monday, the Canes got back to work on the ice at PNC Arena on Tuesday morning.
“We haven’t been able to actually practice as a team. We’ve had some pregame skates, but we haven’t practiced,” Peters said. “We had real good pace to our practice today. We worked on the forecheck a little bit and got some specialty teams work in. Tomorrow we’ll focus on neutral zone and D-zone. … It’s good to hit on all of those little aspects of the game.”
The Hurricanes will practice again Wednesday morning before an afternoon flight to Toronto, where they face off with the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. It’s then back to Raleigh for a Friday night meet-up with the Rangers before the Flames come to town Sunday and Chicago closes out the pre-All-Star break slate on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a lot of hockey left, in reality. It’s all about us, how we play and looking after our own business,” Peters said. “We have two games coming up back-to-back against teams in the Eastern Conference. That’s a huge priority.”
Di Giuseppe Back in Raleigh
It was a quick trip down to Charlotte for Phil Di Giuseppe, who missed six games with the big club due to a concussion. The 22-year-old rookie forward made the most of his short stint with the Checkers, posting a goal and an assist in the team’s 4-1 win over Manitoba on Sunday.
Di Giuseppe will slot back into the lineup right where he was prior to the concussion: on the right side of Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask.
“We missed the element of speed. He’s got pace,” Peters said. “We want to play fast, and he allows us to do that. It makes that line quicker.”
The Hurricanes did not make a corresponding roster move with Di Giuseppe’s recall, meaning the team is carrying 14 forwards. That leaves two on the outside of the playing roster looking in. On Tuesday, Brad Malone was markedly physical in practice, and Peters took note.
“It should make people be on their toes and keep hungry. One guy who is potentially out was very physical today in practice. He probably wasn’t very happy, and that’s good,” Peters said. “We’re not very happy that we’re under that little playoff line that goes across. We’re not on the right side of that.”
Pesce Returns to Practice
Brett Pesce, who has missed the team’s last two games with a lower-body injury, returned to the ice with the Canes on Tuesday. Though he was hobbled against Pittsburgh on Jan. 12, he gutted it out two nights later in St. Louis, scoring what would be the game-winning goal on the power play.
Though he won’t be completely healthy come Thursday, Peters expects the rookie defenseman back in the lineup.
“I hope so. I would be shocked if he’s not,” Peters said. “He should be able to get to the break, and then the break will be real good for him. I don’t think he’ll be at 100 percent, but I don’t think too many are at this time of year. I think he’ll be fine for the next four games.”
With Pesce sidelined over the weekend, Peters saw a sag in his team’s ability to transition the puck.
“He skates and he moves the puck,” Peters said. “We miss him in D-zone transition when he’s out of the lineup. He needs to be able to come in and provide that for us. If he does, we’ll be a better team.”
Maintenance Day for Hainsey
Ron Hainsey didn’t practice on Tuesday.
“Something about a toothache,” Peters said after the skate.
We’ll go with upper-body. He should be back on the ice Wednesday.
Eddie Lack and a couple of lucky fans, winners of a WRAL Out and About contest, had lunch at the goaltender’s favorite local joint: Gonza Tacos y Tequila. Lacko Tacos for all!
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email