The defense is still banged up, but the good news is that the Canes will be able to dress six players on the blueline against Philadelphia tomorrow.
Coach Paul Maurice said he expects Dennis Seidenberg, who led the team in average ice time per game at the time of his November 28 injury, to return to the lineup tomorrow. If the last two practices are any indication, he’ll be paired with rookie Brett Carson (click for full lines).
“He’s moving better, and now my expectation is that he will be in the lineup tomorrow night unless something changes overnight here,” said Maurice.
Seidenberg will be activated from injured reserve later today, with Anton Babchuk taking his place with an elbow injury.
Goaltender Cam Ward is more of a question mark, but Michael Leighton’s strong play in Sunday’s win over Washington gives Maurice the luxury of not having to rush his number one netminder back into the lineup in one way or another.
“If he is on that bench, as a starter or as a backup, I have to feel completely comfortable that I can put him in at any time in the game,” said Maurice. “He’s not going to be on the bench just sitting there to hang out with the fellas and we’re not going to have a fallback plan if something happens to our guy. If he’s on the bench, we consider him healed.
Rounding out the injured defensemen, Tim Gleason skated again in the non-contact jersey (blue this time!), but won’t return until Saturday at the earliest. Niclas Wallin made an appearance at practice, but didn’t feel well enough to stay on for the full session. Frank Kaberle is still out and "hobbling around," as Maurice put it.
Tuomo Ruutu has been cautious with a sore knee he picked up after going into the boards awkwardly in Sunday's game, but will definitely be in the lineup tomorrow.