NEW YORK -- That Andrej Sekera was on the ice Thursday at Madison Square Garden and skating with the Canes seemed just short of miraculous.
Anyone who witnessed Sekera's scary crash into the end boards Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres came away with the same thought: the outcome would not be good. There seemed little way of the defenseman escaping a major injury.
Sekera caught the pad of goalie Cam Ward at high speed, went airborne and slammed his head and shoulder into the boards at PNC Arena. Canes coach Bill Peters said he believed Sekera might have broken his neck, and others surely thought the same for a few sickening seconds.
Sekera, who won't play Thursday night against the Rangers, was almost at a loss for words in trying to explain how he came away more or less unscathed.
"Trust me, I have no idea," Sekera said, smiling. "Somebody up there must like me a lot. I'm just so happy and fortunate that I only had a couple of bruises and bangs and nothing serious."
Peters called Sekera a "warrior" on Wednesday and said he might be able to play Thursday. The same was true for forward Jeff Skinner, who had missed the first three games of the season following a concussion Oct. 5 but was practicing again and hoping to be in the lineup against the Rangers.
But Peters decided to hold out both players for at least one more game. He said he was hopeful Sekera and Skinner would be available Tuesday for the game at Winnipeg.
Sekera said he was never experienced anything quite like the collision Tuesday, or had a harder one.
"It felt like I was in the air for a good 15 seconds," he said. "Everything was in slo-mo. Thank God nothing serious happened."
Peters shook his head Thursday when asked about the play.
"Oh, man," he said Thursday. "I'm glad he got up. It was an ugly play and for him to be 'day-to-day' is good."
Peters said after the game the Canes might have finally gotten a break on an injury. Jordan Staal has a broken leg. Eric Staal (upper-body injury) is out. Pat Dwyer (lower-body) is out. John-Michael Liles (upper-body) is out. Skinner had the concussion.
Peters said he was not sure when Staal, Dwyer or Liles would be able to rejoin the team. All are day-to-day.
"Injuries come with sport and we got pretty fortunate that it is this time of the year that we have all those guys out," Sekera said. "Hopefully all those guys can get back soon and we can get on a roll, because it's not fun."
The Canes (0-2-1) will face a Rangers team that's off to a 1-3-0 start, that has allowed 17 goals in losing their last three games and were beaten 6-3 by the Islanders on Tuesday. And while the Canes are shorthanded, Peters said the spirit of his team has been upbeat.
"The energy in the room is good," he said.
Anton Khudobin will be the starting goalie against the Rangers, Peters said, adding neither Ward nor Khudobin has been particularly sharp.
"Still waiting for sure," Peters said. "There has been one (goal) a night where you wish you had that play back, I think. And it hurts you.
"We need to play well in front of him, and be solid, and we'll give ourselves a chance each and every night."