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Necas Hopeful, Hamilton Out for Game 1 of Qualifiers

Necas back at practice, Hamilton 'getting better'

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / Hurricanes.com

TORONTO - It was a mixed bag of player health news for the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday morning at Ford Performance Centre.

Martin Necas, who had not practiced with the team since Saturday, returned to the ice with the Canes and was a full participant, a good indicator of his status heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the New York Rangers.

Necas skated on the right wing alongside Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter and was also utilized on the second power play unit.

"Marty looked really good today. He felt good. We'll see how that goes tomorrow," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said after practice. "We hope to see him in the lineup."

Dougie Hamilton did not practice again on Friday. He has been skating in Toronto, though, and he continued to put in on-ice work with Brind'Amour following Friday's practice.

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Dougie Hamilton, rocking the tinted visor, heading out to the ice for a skate after #Canes practice. pic.twitter.com/sbKkxd8KTh

Hamilton, who last played in mid-January before suffering a broken fibula in his left leg, departed a training camp skate last Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.

"He's getting better, for sure, but he's unfit, so he won't be in there tomorrow," Brind'Amour said. "We're certainly not going to rush him back. If he's close to being able to play, he's going to get in there. WE know the importance of having him in the lineup. That's a huge, huge loss for us, so we want to get him back in there ASAP."

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In his stead, Sami Vatanen will skate on the right side of Jaccob Slavin on the Canes' top defensive pairing. Vatanen, a right shot, will also play the point on the team's first power play unit.

According to Vincent Trocheck, Vatanen has a "cannon" of a shot. Fellow Finn Sebastian Aho agreed. "Yeah, he has a pretty good shot," Aho said in his postgame comments.

Elsewhere in the Canes' lineup, Brind'Amour said a decision has been made on the starting goaltender, but don't be surprised to potentially see both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer.

Video: "Both guys [goalies] will get action."

"The amount of games and the short timeframe there is between games, I think we'll probably get both guys in there," Brind'Amour said. "I'm glad both guys look really good and feel good about their game. We're good either way."

The puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at noon on Saturday. FOX Sports Carolinas will carry the game locally, while NBCSN has the national broadcast. You can hear the game on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, 730 the Game in Charlotte or through the Canes mobile app.

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