Both Erik Haula and Jordan Martinook practiced with the Hurricanes on Wednesday, and Haula is the closer of the two players to returning. He's missed four games with some soreness in his knee, and though Wednesday was his first day back on the ice with the team, he's probably not far off from returning to game action since there is no structural issue with his knee, per head coach Rod Brind'Amour.
"Haula is iffy right now," Brind'Amour said after Wednesday's practice. "I haven't been in [the room] yet to know whether he's going to play."
Martinook, on the other hand, is coming off surgery in early October. At the time, the recovery process was estimated at 6-8 weeks. He's since been sidelined for 14 games over the course of the last five weeks but has recently been practicing and traveling with the team, both good signs as he works his way back to a clean bill of health. I would imagine he's still at least a week or so away from returning to the lineup.
I capital L, capital O, capital V, capital E, exclamation point, bold, italicize, underline LOVE! afternoon games, especially the 1 p.m. (local time) start slated for Saturday in St. Paul.
For me, the timing of everything is ideal. Wake up. Get a workout in (hopefully). Get to the rink. Eat a breakfast press meal (the best part!). Watch the game. Write about the game. Be home or, in this case, the next city by dinner time. Can't beat it. If I were commissioner, every game would start at 1 p.m., and that's one of myriad reasons I will never be commissioner.
For players and coaches and team staff, afternoon puck drops are a bit different, but the basic structure is still in place - it just happens earlier. You'll find some folks in hockey love the early start times and some don't, really just depending on how much it affects their routines.
With a 1 p.m. game, there is obviously no morning skate. In this case, a de facto morning skate will likely take place in Minnesota midday Friday. On the day of the game, then, everything shifts ahead, and in this instance, the shift is six hours. Players are probably waking up around the same time they would for a 7 p.m. game, the difference, of course, being that they're going right into game preparation mode - no morning skate, no afternoon nap. From there, everything is just about the same, only earlier.
Breakfast is the pregame meal, though the "normal" pregame foods - chicken, salmon, soup, etc. - are still available for the players wanting to stay within their routines. Led by nutritionist Kristin Pirigyi, the Canes ensure the main meal is still served four to five hours prior to puck drop followed by a snack at the rink.
Once at the rink, nothing much changes; players go through their usual gameday routines based on the game clock rather than the time-of-day clock - again, it's just earlier in the day.
Vote yes for afternoon games!
Who has been wearing the second "A" in Marty's place? I think I have only seen Slavin and Staal wearing letters. - @Carson_Brewer
Teuvo Teravainen has been the second designated alternate captain for the Hurricanes, though he hasn't worn the physical letter.
Brind'Amour heaped praise on Teravainen after Monday's practice.
"He doesn't get a lot of publicity or props for what he does. He's a two-way player, one of the better ones in the league, in my opinion," Brind'Amour said. "He does a lot of little things that don't show up on the scoresheet, and then, obviously, he does show up on the scoresheet, too, with the ability he has. He's a very gifted player, and certainly a huge part of this team."
It depends on the event or activity. Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon helped to organize both the excursion to Charlotte and the tennis friendly with John Isner. Invitations were then extended to anyone in the locker room who wanted to take part (the round of tennis was a little bit more skill-intensive, obviously, and Teuvo Teravainen and Martin Necas are two who can hold their own with a raquet), and in the case of these two activities, some content producers tagged along as well to capture photos and videos.
PHOTOS & VIDEO: CANES CHEER ON PANTHERS IN CHARLOTTE
Speaking of, you'll be seeing more from Tuesday's tennis outing with Isner very soon.
The players themselves, often times with the help of the team services staff, organize a number of activities away from the rink, as well. For instance, Ryan Dzingel and Haydn Fleury went to Cameron Indoor Stadium to see a Duke basketball game on Tuesday night. Questionable choice of venue and team, but we'll let that slide. Team bonding is always a plus.
There's a lot of facial hair inside the Hurricanes' locker room, but best I can tell, there are a scant few mustaches, some fuller than others.
Not surprisingly, Jordan Martinook has the most noticeable lip broom going. Haydn Fleury has some hair coming in above his upper lip. And, it's faint, but Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are showing early signs of growth.
Like I said, there's plenty of facial hair to go around the room, just not as many distinguishable lip sweaters. Plenty could rock just the 'stache if they shaved everything else down.
The absence of TV's Mike Maniscalco was certainly at the front of our minds, especially early on when there were still a lot more questions than answers. I was roaming the halls prior to the game in San Jose about a month ago, and everyone I spoke with had questions about Mike and how he was doing. Getting to record a podcast with him once he got back to Raleigh was a treat, a restored sense of normality for him I'm sure, and then seeing him back at the rink, in the locker room and on the broadcast earlier this week was a great sight. We're all glad he's back and, most importantly, in good health.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you also love afternoon games, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.