The Canes’ plan is simple enough: Cam Ward goes in net Tuesday against St. Louis, then Anton Khudobin on Wednesday at Columbus.
But with the season-opener fast approaching and the No. 1 goaltending job still to be decided, a lot could be riding on the two preseason games.
"It's important," Canes coach Bill Peters said Tuesday. "For our assessment it's important. And it's important we play well in front of them and are good defensively so they're seeing realistic chances."
Ward started the preseason opener against Columbus, allowing three goals on 13 shots in almost 31 minutes before coming out of the game. Khudobin was in net for the Buffalo Sabres in the second exhibition game, stopping all nine shots he faced before being relieved by Drew MacIntyre midway through the game.
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Peters said both Ward and Khudobin would go all 60 minutes in their respective games, both on the road. Ward will face a Blues team that's 0-3-1 in the preseason.
Forwards Eric Staal and Alexander Semin will be playing their first preseason game against the Blues. While neither has missed practice time in training camp, Peters has been cautious with the two forwards, who each had offseason surgery -- Staal for a core-muscle injury, Semin for a wrist injury.
"Hopefully there's not too much rust," Peters said,
Peters said he expected Staal and Semin each to get 15 to 20 minutes of ice time. There will be no easing-in process.
"Obviously the more game-like situations you look forward to," Staal said. "Get those competitive juices flowing. It will be fun.
Staal said he has had no lingering problem in camp with the after-effects of the surgery, saying, "I'm ready to get into game action and see how it feels."
Staal will center the top line with Jiri Tlusty and Semin. Riley Nash will center Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask will be at center with Chris Terry and Brock McGinn, and Brody Sutter will center the fourth line with Patrick Brown and Brad Malone on the wings.
Defensively, Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera will be paired. Other D pairs are Jay Harrison and Ryan Murphy, and Haydn Fleury and Danny Biega.
"There's positions up in the air to a certain degree, but there's valuable ice time that's really up in the air as far as who's going to play with who and who's going to be going over the boards second," Peters said.