For someone who has played all of six games in the NHL, Phil Di Giuseppe is settling in quickly and well for the Canes.
Di Giuseppe, 22, appears comfortable at right wing on a line with Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask. He has scored his first NHL goal — and added a second one — and has five points. The former Michigan Wolverine also has given the Canes some physicality on the ice.
“I’ve been working hard and trying my best,” Di Giuspeppe said Friday after the morning skate at Raleigh Center Ice. “If you can add points and help the team out on the scoreboard, that’s a positive and that’s good. But from the day I got called up I’ve just tried to work my hardest and tried to help the team out.”
Skinner has been on a goal-scoring binge, with hat tricks in two of the past three games. Rask, a playmaker at center, has a goal and six assists in the past five games.
“Skinny has been skating, working hard, and he’s been getting some good shots on net and some bounces,” Di Giuseppe said. “Rasky is a very smart hockey player. Moves the puck well, has good vision. I try to bring a physical aspect to that line and try to complement those guys.”
— Canes coach Bill Peters won’t change the lines for Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Eric Staal will center Kris Versteeg and Elias Lindholm, Jordan Staal will center Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil and Brad McClement will be at center with Brad Malone and Chris Terry. Riley Nash is the extra forward.
“I think our lines are as good as they have been,” Peters said. “I think having Eric and Jordan in the middle makes us more dangerous. Teams don’t load up and match up as they have in the past.”
The defensive pairings remain Ron Hainsey-Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles-Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin-Jaccob Slavin.
— After giving goalie Eddie Lack three straight starts and an extended look in net, Canes coach Bill Peters will go back to Cam Ward for the Panthers game.
Ward’s last start was Dec. 8 against the Dallas Stars and lasted one period, as he was lifted for Lack after allowing four goals on eight shots.
“We’re day to day on what we’re doing on decisions on goaltenders,” Peters said. “He’s got very good career numbers against Florida and he’s been out a while, so it’s time to get him back in.”
Ward is 15-12-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average in 32 appearances against the Panthers.
Lack was 2-0-1 in the three starts but gave up four goals in each of the past two games on a combined 60 shots. Lack’s first start of the season was against the Panthers on Oct. 13, when the Canes lost 4-1.
— The Panthers (16-12-4) are thriving on the road, winning six of their last eight, and have a better road record (9-6-2) than home record (7-6-2).
Since Nov. 29, Florida’s road wins have come against Detroit, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus, the New York Islanders and then New Jersey on Thursday. The Panthers ripped both the Isles and Devils 5-1 the past two games.
“They’ve scored a lot of goals and they’ve scored a lot of goals on not many shots,” Peters said. “Their shot quality is very high. They play with a lot of pace and they’re very organized. They’re working hard away from the puck, so they pose a lot of problems.”
Jussi Jokinen, the former Canes forward, had a goal and assist against the Devils and leads the Panthers with 23 points, one ahead of Jaromir Jagr.
The Panthers had an optional skate Friday at RCI and Jagr, 43, was the first on the ice.