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Walker Getting Close

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Injured Hurricanes winger Scott Walker, who has missed the team’s last 17 games due to torn cartilage in chest, may very well be in the lineup for Wednesday’s home game against Philadelphia.

While the gritty winger was in considerable pain for days immediately following the injury he sustained October 19th in Pittsburgh, his recovery, which came slowly at first, has sped up dramatically to the point where his return to the lineup is imminent.

“Sometime this week hopefully,” said Walker.  “You don’t want to say yeah or nay because you’ve got to practice tomorrow and see how it feels.  So far it’s feeling good, and you’ve just got to take it day by day.”

His coach, Peter Laviolette, said he thought Walker had a good chance of returning against the Flyers two days from now.

“He’s realistic, unless there’s setbacks, hopefully for Wednesday,” said Laviolette.  “It will be nice to get him back.  He brings different things, he brings physical play and he was helping out on the power play before he got hurt.”

Walker, who has become more involved with each subsequent practice over the last few weeks, was playing the point on the team’s second power play unit with defenseman Frank Kaberle at Monday’s practice.  He started the season in that role before his injury, picking up a goal and an assist on the man advantage through the team’s first seven games.

As for the limited portions of practice that were run at even-strength, he skated on a line with Matt Cullen and Ray Whitney.

”He gives us more of the balance of the three lines,” said Laviolette

Most of Monday’s practice, which was relatively long due to the three-day break in between games, was dedicated to the power play.  The Hurricane still have the third-best conversion rate in the league at 23.8 percent, but have only been clicking at a 17.1 percent rate over their last seven games.

“We get to heal up a little bit and work on some things back with our power play a little bit today,” said Laviolette.  “Guys get some rest after playing a couple of games as we get ready to end the month and a couple of home games, a chance to put us back and extend our lead in the division and try to gain the conference.”

Defenseman Mike Commodore, who fractured his left ring finger towards the end of last Friday’s game against Tampa Bay and didn’t play the following night in Washington, practiced fully with the team but still isn’t able to shoot or pass as well as he would like.

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