Skinner may return to lineup

11/20/2013 12:44 PM

11/20/2013 12:45 PM

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, who has missed the past 11 games with an upper-body injury, may be able to return to the lineup Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings, Canes coach Kirk Muller said Wednesday.

Muller said a decision would be reached Thursday after the morning skate.

Skinner was hurt Oct. 24 in the Canes' road game at Minnesota. He has practiced with the team and was at the morning skate Monday before the Boston Bruins game at PNC Arena, but has been unable to play.

"It's been frustrating," Skinner said. "It's tough to watch. But the last six, seven games we've been playing pretty well.

"My role will be to chip in offensively. But coming back the main focus is to make the transition as smooth as possible. The team has done a great job defending and being responsible in our own end and working out from there. That will be main focus coming back, being responsible."

With winger Alexander Semin out indefinitely with a concussion, Skinner was placed on Eric Staal's line with Jiri Tlusty during Wednesday's practice at Raleigh Center Ice.

Skinner had three goals and six assists in the Canes' first 10 games and was the team's top scorer before the injury.

"He's a game-breaker," Muller said Wednesday. "A lot of games have been one-goal games. That's where he excelled early in the season. He's capable of making that game-breaking play that can put you in the lead or tie a game. He has that different dimension we need right now in these tight games, having a natural goal-scorer. And that's what he is."

The Canes (8-9-4) have a two-game road trip, facing the Red Wings and then Boston on Saturday before returning to Raleigh for a Sunday game against the Ottawa Senators. The Hurricanes have lost their past two games while the Red Wings are winless in their past eight games at home and their past seven games overall.

Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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