Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let's get to it.
Ryan Murphy's two-week conditioning stint concluded on Monday, and he has joined the team in Anaheim. The Hurricanes are now carrying eight defensemen on their roster. Matt Tennyson has been a mainstay in the Canes' lineup since his recall, and he's helped to stabilize the team's third defensive pairing with partner Noah Hanifin. Since Tennyson's recall, the Hurricanes have posted a 7-4-1 record. The question mark is whether he will be healthy enough to play tonight in Anaheim; Tennyson is currently nursing a lower-body concern, and he's remained off the ice for a couple of days because of it. If he can go, he's your likely sixth defensemen because why take him out at this point?
If he can't play, then there's a decision to make. Klas Dahlbeck has played in nine games with the Canes this season, but he hasn't dressed in nearly a month (Nov. 12). Murphy is the more recently active of the two, since he played in seven games during his two weeks with the Checkers, but he hasn't dressed with the Canes since Nov. 10. I wouldn't be surprised to see either guy at one point or another, but not right now at the expense of Tennyson, assuming he's healthy.
"If we have eight [defensemen], we have eight. If we get down to seven, then it's obvious we have a decision to make," head coach Bill Peters said on Tuesday. "We have a guy in Murph who went down and played, and we've got a guy who has worked real hard looking to get back in the lineup in Dahlbeck. I've got a lot of confidence in both guys."
Well, six points would be great, right? If the team can't rattle off three straight wins, I think four out of six points would constitute a successful trip, especially considering the fact that the Hurricanes have earned just one point in their last five road games.
So what's the key in making this a successful road trip? Offense. Though they've been in every game, the Hurricanes have scored just seven goals in their last five road games. They need to be solution-based in generating more offense and finishing when the chances present themselves.
"Our focus is on scoring," Peters said after practice on Tuesday. "It's the ability to get on the board. I'd love to get on the board early. … It's about the urgency to score, what you have to do to score. I want to see more guys in the blue paint. I want to see guys making it harder on the goaltender. If we do that, we'll be successful."
Not much else needs to change in the Canes' game right now. Their defense is stifling. Their goaltending has been razor sharp. Their penalty kill is the best in the league, both on the road and overall. Finding a way to score more goals and get to Peters' magic number of three will lead to points and make this a successful roadie.
"We have to go out and play properly on the road. We did that on the last trip. I thought we played real well other than the fact that we didn't generate and didn't finish," Peters said. "We didn't generate enough consistently throughout the game. We want to make sure we're generating. We worked on some scoring here today, and hopefully it transfers over to the trip."
The hope was that perhaps Jordan Staal, who has missed the team's last four games, could travel with the Hurricanes on this week's trip to California, but Staal didn't react well after giving it a go on the ice on Monday, according to Peters. He'll remain behind in Raleigh to do some additional work, and perhaps he's well enough to rejoin the Canes at practice on Monday.
I saw him on Tuesday at Raleigh Center Ice, and he was his usual smiling self as he was throwing various items at Mike Maniscalco, trying to throw him off his game as he was taping an on-camera bit. That's a good sign, I would think, but other than that, I have no further update. Here's the latest from Peters: "I think [he's progressing], but you know, those are tricky situations. … It looks like it's going one way and then it can turn the other. I think it's going the right way, but I'm not sure 100 percent."
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you'd like to discuss this final season of "Rectify," which might be television's best show you're not watching, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.