The Canes actually have two days off before their next game against Washington – the first time that’s happened since they started a run of eight games in 13 days back on October 28 against Montreal.
If their last game against Atlanta, a 5-2 loss, is any indication, they could probably use a few days to get their legs back to full strength. Most of the team’s veteran players got the day off from Monday’s practice, which featured only nine skaters along with both goaltenders.
Even though the skate was lightly-attended, there were a few notable names present in Matt Cullen, Joni Pitkanen and Brandon Sutter, who all participated fully in their regular jerseys – not the “gold” non-contact versions they had been wearing earlier.
Coach Peter Laviolette said there was a “good chance” of Cullen being available for Wednesday’s game against Washington. He listed Pitkanen and Sutter as “possible.”
In addition to the days off, Laviolette said that having some of the injured players back in the lineup could provide further rest for players who have seen increased ice time in their absence.
“There’s a lot of minutes being doled out to guys like Staal, and then you get these guys back soon hopefully and it relieves them of those minutes and gives them more time to stay fresh,” said Laviolette.
Even with the tough schedule and the injuries, Laviolette, as he usually does, still wasn’t making excuses for the Atlanta loss.
“If you’re asking me if it’s been a tough schedule, the answer is yes,” he said. “Is that a reason to play poorly last night? No. We need the day off. You can’t just keep whipping a horse, because eventually the horse is going to get tired.”
More on injuries:
- Sutter sounded genuinely hopeful to play on Wednesday and said he’s been completely symptom free for “a while now.” Great to hear since it could have been a lot worse.
- Pitkanen was a little more cautious. He said he felt good, but would check it again after practice tomorrow.
- No sign of Patrick Eaves yet – he’s dealing with an undisclosed injury that sounds a lot, to me, like a concussion. But it's officially undisclosed, so who knows.
“He’s not even here. He’s a ways away,” said Laviolette. “He’s still got some problems relative to the hit. He hasn’t made it in here to get tested to possibly get cleared.”
- Update - forgot to mention Frank Kaberle, who skated on his own before and during the main session. We'll see if he can practice tomorrow.