Facing a back-to-back at home against New Jersey and Boston, and coming off a good run at practice Friday, a number of Canes were off the ice for Saturday's morning skate at PNC Arena.
Among those sitting out the optional skate were Eric and Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey. Goalie Cam Ward, who will start Saturday against the Devils, also was off the ice.
Forward Alexander Semin did skate after missing the Friday practice at Raleigh Center Ice but Canes coach Bill Peters said Semin has a hamstring issue. Peters said Semin would be further evaluated by head trainer Pete Friesen, but his availability is considered questionable.
-- The lines, without Semin, would have Jordan Staal centering Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe, Victor Rask at center with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, Riley Nash with Chris Terry and Andrej Nestrasil, and Jay McClement at center with Brad Malone and Pat Dwyer.
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The defensive pairings should remain the same from the Canes' 5-2 win Thursday over Pittsburgh: Faulk and Hainsey, Ryan Murphy and Michal Jordan, and John-Michael Liles and Danny Biega. Brett Bellemore will be the extra.
-- The final stretch of the season could make for some critical games for players such as Terry, Jordan and Biega. It's an evaluation period for next year.
"They just have to do what they do. Don't try and do too much or expose yourself in a negative fashion," Peters said. "They just have to play properly and I think we've done that for the most part coming down the stretch."
-- The Devils (31-31-12) will have Keith Kinkaid in net against the Canes. Kinkaid was the winner when the Devils topped the Canes 3-1 on Feb. 21, stopping all 17 shots he faced before leaving in the second period with an injury.
-- Peters on the Devils: "They're playing hard. They're a big, heavy team. They clog up the neutral zone, so we need to make sure we play fast in order to get through the neutral zone and spend time in the offensive zone."
-- Peters admits to being a Gonzaga basketball fan and said he will be pulling for the Zags to knock off Duke on Sunday in the Elite Eight game in Houston.
Peters attended Zags games while coaching the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League and says he knows Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
"Great fly fisherman, great coach, great man," Peters said. "Does a lot of work for Coaches vs Cancer. Good man, good staff, good program. Hope they win."
-- Reminder: the Canes game Sunday with the Bruins has a 5 p.m. start.