Canes face tough personnel decisions

11/14/2013 3:04 PM

11/14/2013 3:05 PM

The Canes are getting closer to being back to full strength, with Jeff Skinner and Kevin Westgarth rejoining practice Thursday.

Skinner and Westgarth both wore yellow, no-contact jerseys but Canes coach Kirk Muller said Skinner might be able to play Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.

"We're getting the bodies back," Muller said. "The team's playing well so it's going to be some interesting decisions coming up."

On Skinner, he said, "When he feels he's ready to go he'll be a player." He said Westgarth was "day to day."

Goalie Cam Ward put in a full practice for the first time and should be able to be the backup for Justin Peters in Friday's game. Goalie Anton Khudobin, injured since Oct. 13, also came on the ice in full gear and took some shots after practice.

"It's a great sign seeing (Ward) coming back," Muller said. "When it's the right time he'll take on the challenge of playing a game."

Muller said Khudobin has been slow to recover from an ankle injury.

"The worst injury I had was an ankle," Muller said. "An ankle in hockey, every time you stride you have to use your ankle. When it gets … sore, you can't compensate (for) it or hide it. Especially for a goalie, it's a tough injury."

Goalie Mike Murphy, recalled from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) after Ward was injured Oct. 24, was not at practice.

Forward Radek Dvorak sat out practice with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday's game against Colorado. Muller said Dvorak also is "day to day."

Conspicuously missing, especially after the team's day off on Wednesday, was captain Eric Staal. Muller said Staal was getting a "maintenance day" and would play against the Ducks.

The Canes have eight healthy defensemen and Muller said it's possible seven could dress for the Ducks game. Defenseman Mike Komisarek filled in as a forward in practice Thursday, replacing Dvorak on the fourth line.

The Canes, after a five-game losing streak, have gone 3-0-1 on their homestand. It's a nice combination of lines and defensive pairs Muller has on the ice, one he might be reluctant to break up for now.

"When the team is winning you have to wait and fight to get back in the lineup," Muller said. "If you're playing well and doing your job we've got to roll with what's working."

Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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