Canes’ Semin sidelined with a concussion

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 19, 2013 

— The Carolina Hurricanes, a team badly struggling to score goals, have lost another of their best offensive players.

Canes coach Kirk Muller said Tuesday that winger Alexander Semin has a concussion and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Semin was injured Saturday in the Canes’ road game against the St. Louis Blues when he took a shoulder hit from Blues forward Alex Pietrangelo in the chest and under the chin. Semin was taken to the dressing room and briefly returned to play before again leaving the game.

It’s the second concussion in seven months for Semin, 29, who has three goals and six assists this season. The Russian forward missed the final two games of last season after suffering a concussion in a game.

“Any time you have a head injury it’s a concern,” general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday. “Whether it’s a first concussion or a third, it’s certainly a concern. Hopefully we can get Alex back soon.”

The Canes (8-9-4) have scored two or fewer goals in 11 of the past 12 games and are averaging 1.86 goals per game, 28th in the NHL through Monday’s games. Carolina was 25th on the power play at 12.5 percent, scoring one power-play goal on 21 chances in the past seven games.

“That has really surprised me,” Rutherford said. “One thing I was least concerned about before the season was our offense, based on how we scored last year and having the same players back and adding players like Nathan Gerbe.

“Our priority was our defensive play and making adjustments on the defensive side, and we improved. We have not been able to combine the offensive side and the defensive side. If we could put the two together we’d be hard to play against.”

It has hurt that forward Jeff Skinner had missed the past 11 games with an upper-body injury. Skinner had three goals and six assists in the first 10 games and was the team’s top scorer before being hurt Oct. 24 against the Minnesota Wild.

Skinner took part in the morning skate Monday before the Bruins game but did not play. He was at practice Tuesday at Raleigh Center Ice, but Muller was not sure about his availability for Thursday’s road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Muller said Skinner wanted to practice Tuesday and Wednesday before a decision was made. Skinner appeared to be stick-handling and shooting the puck well in Tuesday’s session at RCI.

“He looked good and did all the stuff we wanted in practice,” Muller said.

Rutherford said he would not rule out making a move to help bolster the offense. Nor did he rule out a goaltender trade.

Goalie Cam Ward made his first appearance Monday since sustaining a groin injury Oct. 24, making 28 saves in the loss to the Bruins. Goalie Anton Khudobin, out since Oct.13 with an ankle injury, was at practice Tuesday and could play in about a week.

Justin Peters had started 10 straight games with Ward and Khudobin sidelined. Peters was an emergency recall from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL following Khudobin’s injury, and Rutherford said he would be exposed to NHL waivers if reassigned to the Checkers.

Rutherford said there would be risk involved in putting Peters on waivers given his solid play in recent weeks. “He’s shown he can play at this level,” Muller added.

Rutherford said the options being considered were carrying three goalies on the roster, trading a goalie or putting Peters on waivers with the intent of sending him to Charlotte. It’s also possible Khudobin could go to the Checkers on a conditioning stint.

“There are several ways of looking at it and it’s already on our radar screen,” Rutherford said. “The good thing is we don’t have to decide today.”

Despite losses in the past two games, the Hurricanes were fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 20 points through Monday – the New York Rangers were third with 20 points, with one game in hand.

“Our team has hung in there in the standings despite all of this going on,” Rutherford said.

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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