HURRICANES (29-40-11) at FLYERS (33-29-18)
TV: FS-CR, CSN-PH
PHILADELPHIA -- The city of Philadelphia was a special place for the Lowe family prior to Thursday.
But with Carolina Hurricanes rookie defenseman Keegan Lowe making his NHL debut here against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, CSN-PH), the area earned even more meaning.
Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations of the Edmonton Oilers, was part of the Oilers' championship teams that beat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987.
"He was able to get here before me yesterday so he picked me up from the airport," Keegan Lowe, 22, said. "So we were driving into the city, going to the restaurants he would have gone to when he was here playing, telling a few stories. Definitely awesome to have him here. … First thing he said was that [Philadelphia] is one of the best places in the League to play your first game."
A third-round pick (No. 73) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Lowe has two goals, 11 points and a minus-13 rating in 55 games with the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes' American Hockey League affiliate. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said he saw Lowe last week during a game in Charlotte and came away impressed.
"Good gaps, he competed, made a good first pass," Peters said. "He played really well. He's going to play the left side with Ryan Murphy. He'll play lots of 5-on-5, not get any specialty team work. It's exciting to get a young guy in. I know he's excited to be up with us and we'll get a look at him."
Lowe will be the fourth rookie defenseman to play for the Hurricanes this season, and the third to make his NHL debut, following Danny Biega and Rasmus Rissanen. Lowe will replace another rookie in the lineup, Michal Jordan.
"These guys have earned the opportunity to have a look," Peters said. "We wanted to make sure we knew what we had moving forward in our system with the depth we had. We got real good reads on [Rissanen] and Biega now and we have a good read on Michal Jordan. And we'll get our first look at Keegan tonight."
The Flyers also had a first look at a defenseman who will be part of their future Thursday as Radko Gudas practiced for the first time since he was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 2.
Gudas had surgery on his right knee Jan. 6, with an expectation that he would need 4-6 months to recover. He won't play in the Flyers final two games but said just being on the ice again was a good feeling.
"Obviously the goal was to skate as soon as I can," Gudas said. "It's awesome to participate and be with the guys out there. Makes me feel more like part of the team. … Getting on the ice was huge, the biggest step for me. Just happy I did it before the end of the season."
Gudas said he will spend the offseason getting back to being the physical force he was before the injury, something his teammates are hoping to see.
"He's that kind of guy that you hate playing against but you like having him on your team," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Won't take him a long time to become a fan favorite."
Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier, who was teammates with Gudas in Tampa Bay during the 2012-13 season, said it was good to see Gudas back on the ice.
"He's a train; he really is," Lecavalier said. "That's not all he is, he can play with the puck, he makes plays, he's a smart player. But he brings that physical game that when you talk about guys, old school, he's dangerous when he's on the ice. He really plays the game hard, honest. When you're the other team and you have the puck you have to watch out for where he is because he's coming. … He's got great timing. Not everybody has that talent, but he's one of those guys. There's not that many that has that talent of having the timing of getting big body checks and solid body checks. Good to see him."
Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said he was OK after being in the right foot by a shot during a drill. An angry Bellemare demolished his stick against the bench after he got back to his feet.
"First painful, then got angry," he said. "I was mad. Mad at myself because I had my foot in bad position."
It's the second straight morning skate the Flyers had had a player get injured by a shot. Brayden Schenn was hit in the knee by a Streit shot in the morning but recovered to score the winning goal Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.
"If it ends up same as end of that game, that's fine for me," Bellemare said.
Here are the projected lineups:
Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Elias Lindholm - Andrej Nestrasil
Nathan Gerbe - Victor Rask - Chris Terry
Patrick Dwyer - Jay McClement - Brad Malone
Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk
Keegan Lowe - Ryan Murphy
Brett Bellemore - John-Michael Liles
Scratched: Michal Jordan
Injured: Rasmus Rissanen (knee), Riley Nash (concussion), Jack Hillen (concussion)
Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Brayden Schenn
Zac Rinaldo - Nick Cousins - Ryan White
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier
Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto - Nick Schultz
Carlo Colaiacovo - Brandon Manning
Injured: Luke Schenn (lower body), Andrew MacDonald (upper body), Wayne Simmonds (lower body), R.J. Umberger (hip/abdomen), Radko Gudas (knee)
Status report: Peters put Semin with the Staals to create more scoring; the Hurricanes have 15 goals in their past seven games. "We need that line to be a responsible line in both ends but we also need them to generate offense tonight on the road," Peters said. Eric Staal said having Semin on his line should create more room for him and Jordan to operate. "Alex is a skillful guy," he said. "He can play, and when he competes and works hard and does the things he's been asked to do he can dominate. Hopefully tonight he's using his legs and skating and competing hard on pucks. When he does that he creates a lot of ice and open areas for other people and also for himself." … Nash and Rissanen practiced Thursday. Nash wore a yellow no-contact jersey, while Rissanen wore the same black jersey the other defensemen wore.
Who's hot: Eric Staal has four goals and six assists in his past 10 games. … Brayden Schenn has four goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.