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Tweetmail No. 231: Schedule, Flights & Fights

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

VANCOUVER - Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, a weekly feature on Hurricanes.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.

If the Canes can figure out a way to stay healthy consistently, how do you see the rest of the season playing out leading up to playoffs? - @ThatVermontGirl

I don't see any reason why this Hurricanes team can't finish in the top three in the Metropolitan Division.

As of Dec. 11, the Canes have won three games in a row and sit at 19-11-1 on the season with 39 points in 31 games. That puts them on a 103-point pace, well on track to earn their second consecutive playoff berth.

Staying healthy is going to be key, but that's really no different from any team in the league. Another key is avoiding prolonged slides, especially since they're in perhaps the most competitive division in the league. The Canes put themselves in a difficult position a season ago, but they were somehow able to claw their way out of it. Asking the team to do that for a second year in a row would be tempting fate.

Is the division going to be a street fight right to the finish? It seems that way. But, the Canes have the talent level to withstand the slugfest and still come out swinging in the postseason.

What should we make of Haula missing this much time? Is he going to be 100 percent when he comes back? - @kmellin1

Erik Haula underwent major knee surgery just over a year ago, and while there is no structural damage to his knee, he is dealing with tendonitis, something he'll likely have to manage as the season goes on.

Discomfort first began to nag Haula during the Canes' three-game trip through California in mid-October.

"From there, it went a little bit downhill," he said.

Haula sat for four games before returning to the lineup in Buffalo last month, but he only made it through the first two games of that three-game road trip before the tendonitis flared back up.

He's since been on the shelf, having missed the last 11 games. He's not with the Canes on this trip, but a return could be in Haula's near future.

"He's back on the routine of hitting it hard in the gym, and he'll start on the ice here soon," Canes General Manager Don Waddell told me last week. "It's going to probably flare back up at some point. You've just got to maintain it and give him those maintenance days when you can."

So, yes, the hope is that he will be 100 percent - or at least as close as he conceivably can be - when he gets back in the lineup, which will then ideally limit any future re-injury.

With the team in Toronto on Dec. 23, will some of the players from the area just stay for the holiday break? Can they then just go to NYC on the 27th? - @goCanes_score

There will definitely be a handful of folks sticking around the Toronto area after the Canes and Maple Leafs square off in a 2 p.m. Monday matinee on Dec. 23. The three-day holiday break - a total sabbatical from hockey, including practices, flights and such - then follows.

Those spending the holidays out of town, though, will have to be back in Raleigh by the morning of Dec. 27, when the Canes will hold an earlier-than-usual morning skate before departing for New York City for a day trip and a game against the Rangers that night.

Who do we need to talk to to get the Web's Michael Smith on to the scheduling committee so we can get more matinee games? I have a 4-year-old hockey fan who can filibuster them in to submission. Point the way. - @mattyhenman

From Tweetmail to the schedule maker's ears. Vote yes on matinee games.

Do you or the players ever get used to the jet lag and time-zone changes? Or is it always an adjustment on these longer trips? - @caniac176

It's always somewhat of an adjustment, but it's tougher going west to east than it is the opposite direction. Gaining time isn't as rigorous on your internal body clock as losing time can be.

This road trip is a bit odd, though, and perhaps challenging in the sense that the Canes touch different time zones in a zig-zag pattern. From Eastern to Mountain to Pacific back to Mountain to Central back to Mountain and then back to Eastern. That's a lot of time-traveling.

Personally speaking, the trip west hasn't been too bad on the body just yet. These couple of days in Vancouver will be interesting - I can already say my body tried to force me awake earlier than usual - especially considering we will soon head back a time zone for a handful of days.

I wrote more about jet lag and shifting time zones a few Tweetmails ago. Strength and conditioning coach Bill Burniston's tips for readjusting your body with a red-eye flight will come in handy next week as the team flies back to Raleigh from Denver immediately following the game.

Do any of the players have certain people they sit with on the plane, and how do y'all kill time besides sleep? - @katie_030305

Let's first tackle the seating arrangement on the plane. The coaching staff (and, when they travel, members of the hockey operations front office, like General Manager Don Waddell) sit at the front of the plane. Staff - from equipment staff to the television crew to the lowly web guy to the medical staff and the PR and team services contact - sit in the next section. The latter half of the plane is reserved for players. A couple tables can be found at the front of the players' section, while the rest of the guys sit scattered about.

So, how do we pass time? Sleep is a big one, and I find myself falling asleep on flights pretty regularly. Some people play games. Sometimes I'll listen to podcasts or music or watch a movie or show I've downloaded. Sometimes I'll write, and, if the plane wifi is strong enough, post said article to the website. And then I'll go back to sleep.

Who would you rather fight: Joel Edmundson or Micheal Ferland? - @youenjoymarlowe

I can't imagine what strange, twisted events would ever lead me to this exact scenario, but if it were to happen, I would probably react just as the Six-Fingered Man did when Inigo Montoya approached him in the hallways of Prince Humperdink's castle: square up, and then turn and run as fast as possible. I, in fact, am not prepared to die.

Are you guys enjoying The Mandalorian? - @Canesorhockey

I haven't seen it yet.

I know, I know. I'm getting there. Ask me again in a few weeks. (We can chat about "The Rise of Skywalker" then, too.)

Are you going to eat at Meat & Bread? - @sammiemar

Yes, of course. Vancouver, yes. Calgary, yes. I also want to explore opening the first North Carolina location. Who's in?

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers from the road!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you want to help bring Meat & Bread to North Carolina, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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