Canes practice (indoors) without Skinner, Staal

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 11, 2011 

— Jeff Skinner wasn't the only one missing as the Canes went through a strenuous one-hour workout Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre.

Eric Staal was back in Raleigh to be with wife, Tanya, who gave birth to the couple's second child, son Levi John. Newly acquired defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, traded Friday to the Canes for Tomas Kaberle, was allowed to return to Montreal to prepare for his move to Raleigh.

Skinner is out with an undisclosed injury, the Hurricanes now say. The Canes' top scorer was said to have flu-like symptoms Friday when he missed the Winnipeg game.

Skinner absorbed a big hit from the Edmonton Oilers' Andy Sutton in Wednesday's game. Canes coach Kirk Muller said Skinner had returned to Raleigh for evaluation, but said there were no concussion issues.

"No, he's good," Muller said.

Muller said he could not completely rule out the chance of Skinner, a native of Markham, Ont., playing Tuesday against the Maple Leafs but was awaiting a medical update.

"We'll see day to day. I'm sure he's dying to play here in Toronto," Muller said. "Hopeully we'll get him back but we want to take care of him, too."

Sutton was suspended eight games by the NHL for charging Canes forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was slammed into the boards but remained in the game.

"It was one of those things where I felt OK," Ponikarovsky said Sunday. "I stayed in the game. Maybe because I'm a little bit taller and bigger, maybe I got away with it more than maybe someone smaller than me."

Of Sutton's suspension, Ponikarovsky said, "He should get something from it. I wasn't surprised because the severity of the hit. It was a pretty hard hit, basically."

The Canes were scheduled to hold an outdoor practice Sunday at Ramsden Rink but Muller decided to move it indoors to the ACC. Muller said a closed practice would result in better focus and concentration than a looser outdoor session.

"The message is when we're sharp and we're focused, we know how to play," Muller said. "Today was a good day to push them and then say, 'Hey, listen, you've got to still stay focused if you're tired.'

"Every day you need to come with a purpose and a message and that was it today. They want to win. They want to get better. I thought they were great today and receptive."

The Canes worked Sunday on faster line changes. They worked on one-on-one puck protection. They skated, a lot.

"Dig down the ice," Muller shouted as the Canes skated.

Pat Dwyer said he didn't mind the schedule shift from the outdoor practice, saying, "It would have been fun and a good time. But I can understand the change. There's some work to be done."

The Canes will play again Tuesday without defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison, both out with upper-body injuries and both in Raleigh. Muller said he had hoped Harrison could rejoin the team during the four-game Canadian road trip but that he still had not recovered.

Forward Drayson Bowman, recalled Sunday from the Checkers (AHL) as an emergency callup, was at practice.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service