Gleason at Canes' practice; Bellemore returns to Raleigh

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 4, 2013 

NASHVILLE -- It was a case of addition and subtraction Wednesday as the Canes practiced in Nashville.

Defenseman Tim Gleason returned to practice after missing the past five games and practice time with a lower-body injury. But defenseman Brett Bellemore returned to Raleigh after Tuesday's game against the Washington Capitals and will not play Thursday against the Nashville Predators.

Canes coach Kirk Muller said Bellemore has some stiffness in his neck and was not sure if Bellemore would be ready for Friday's game in Raleigh against San Jose.

Muller said Gleason is available, noting, “He’s ready to get back at it.” But Muller said Gleason probably will need more practice time before getting back in the lineup.

Eric Staal did not practice Wednesday and Muller said he has a "little bit of the flu." Staal is expected to play Thursday.

"He was a little sick last night so kept him in bed today. Kept him away from everybody," Muller said.

The Canes had three goalies on the ice at the Centennial Sportsplex as Anton Khudobin again got in some work. Justin Peters was the starter and winner in the 4-1 victory over the Caps, but Muller said he had not decided whether to start Peters against the Predators or go back to Cam Ward.

In talking about Peters' play against the Caps, Muller noted Peters' early paddle save on a shot by Jason Chimera.

"To me he made a huge save in the first period," Muller said. "It was a 0-0 hockey game and that one key save helped us build momentum off it. As well as we played that save was a big part of the game."

Khudobin, Muller said, might be ready to play by the weekend, although that will push the Canes closer to facing the dilemma of how to handle three healthy goalies. General manager Jim Rutherford has said the Canes could trade a goalie, keep all three on the roster or risk putting Peters on waivers with the intent of reassigning him to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).

Rutherford more recently said Peters' strong play of late may force a decision of whether Peters or Khudobin should be Ward's backup. Both will be free agents after the season.

The Canes did not hold a morning skate Tuesday in Washington and won the game convincingly, and Muller has decided not to have one Thursday before the Predators game. Muller said he was not a "big fan" of morning skates.

"I find that our group is refreshed and rested (without a skate)," he said. "We'll save our energy for tomorrow night. When you look at it (the morning skate) is a lot of energy wasted. You need to do it at certain times to work on stuff, because of the schedule, but if I had a preference I'd like to get rid of it."

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