After having the day off Sunday, the Canes held a pair of fast-paced practices Monday -- with some interesting line combinations.
In the first group, Eric Staal centered a line with Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin, which should be the Canes' top line on opening night. Riley Nash centered Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, and Victor Rask was the center with Chris Terry and Brock McGinn.
In the second group, Jay McClement was at center with Zach Boychuk and Nathan Gerbe. Brody Sutter also centered a line.
With Jordan Staal out three to four months with a broken leg, Canes coach Bill Peters soon must decide on his top four centers. Asked Monday if he could name his top four, Peters said, "We're getting to the point where we know what our team will look like. Who we're going to have in the middle, that's the one thing we don't know, just because we still have these (preseason) games left to play.
"Get Victor Rask there, see how well he does. Obviously we want to get (Nash) in there. We still don't know who's going to play in that 2 hole. But this week will be good to figure that out."
Peters didn’t rule out McClement being used at the third-line center, if need be, so it’s still a position in flux.
The Canes still have 12 defensemen in camp, and Peters said the plan was for all 12 to play in the two preseason games on the road this week -- at St. Louis on Tuesday, then Columbus on Wednesday.
"It's huge for these guys," Peters said. "It's really competitive."
Defenseman Haydn Fleury, the Canes' first-round draft pick this year, will play against the Blues, Peters said. A decision on whether to send Fleury back to his junior team, the Red Deer Rebels (WHL), could be made after that game.
Peters said he hoped the Canes’ lineup for the Friday game against Buffalo at PNC Arena would be close to the opening night lineup Oct. 10 against the New York Islanders.
Chad LaRose, who has joined the Canes’ training camp on a professional tryout, was at the second group practice Monday. LaRose could play in the final preseason game Sunday in Washington, Peters said.