– When Bill Peters was introduced last summer as the team’s head coach, he addressed his principles of accountability and work ethic.
“I have the ultimate hammer as the coach, and the hammer is the ice time,” he said in June. “They all want ice time, they all feel they deserve more ice time, they all want to play in the situations that match their skill set. I’m all for that as long as you’re giving me the things that I need.
“The work ethic part of it is not negotiable. You look around the league at any team that’s any good, they’re some of the hardest working teams in the league. That’s where it starts,” he continued. “The guys will know what’s expected. The guys that can deliver and play on a consistent basis are going to be the guys going out over the wall and getting the opportunity.”
Peters has swung that aforementioned hammer a few times this season, sitting Alexander Semin for a handful of games and, most recently, taking Elias Lindholm out of the lineup in New York.
When the Hurricanes face the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash may be the next to sit out. Skinner rotated in on line rushes in a Wednesday practice at Gila River Arena, and Nash donned a black defenseman’s sweater to take rushes with John-Michael Liles.
“Could be [some changes]. We’ll wait and see,” Peters said after practice. “We’ll see what we do with our pregame skate lineup and go from there.”
Skinner has gone eight games without a goal and is a minus-5 in that stretch. In his last three games, he’s a minus-4, and he’s taken two penalties. Tuesday night in Anaheim, with the Canes leading 4-3 and on a five-on-three man advantage, Skinner was whistled for an offensive-zone tripping penalty.
“He’s an offensive player who needs to provide offense. You’ve got to provide that primary dimension as an athlete, doing what you’re paid to do. And if you’re not doing that, you’ve got to have a B-game,” Peters explained. “Right now, his B-game is not good enough to make up for the lack of offense.”
If the Canes utilize the same lines as they did in practice, Andrej Nestrasil looks to draw back into the lineup as a center. Since returning from an upper-body injury, Nestrasil has skated in just two games, logging 11:35 and 16:14 of ice time, respectively.
“He’s played a lot of center in his career, and I’m definitely comfortable putting him there,” Peters said. “We’ll see if he stays there tomorrow.”
For the second straight day, Cam Ward did not skate with the team. According to Peters, Ward is nursing a “little tweak in the lower-body.”
“Another maintenance day here today,” Peters said. “I don’t think it’s anything major. It’s more just precautionary and trying to manage his situation.
The Canes would like to turn to Ward in net on Thursday against the Coyotes, Peters said, but that remains up in the air.