From all appearances, the Canes are ready for a fast-paced, upbeat game Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Canes, despite losing the past six games, put in a morning skate at Raleigh Center Ice that was at times loud and very spirited. The mood in the room after the skate appeared positive.
The Canes (8-19-3) are facing a Leafs team that has won six straight, that scored six goals in its last game, that leads the NHL in scoring.
"They're a deep team, they score a lot of goals, they're playing well right now, getting good goaltending," Canes coach Bill Peters said. "They're explosive, and when I say that they don't need many touches in the O zone to score."
Eric Staal missed the morning skate -- Jordan Staal filled in at center on the line -- but will play against the Leafs. Peters said Staal was experiencing some soreness.
Cam Ward will be the starter in net, Peters said.
With Eric Staal out, Jordan Staal centered the line with Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry. Victor Rask centered Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, Riley Nash was at center with Zach Boychuk and Pat Dwyer and Jay McClement centered Justin Shugg and Brad Malone.
Injured forwards Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Nestrasil were not at the practice but Alex Semin went through the skate, then did some work afterward with assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour. Peters said Semin, who has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, was "close" to a return and possibly could play this weekend when the Canes take on the New York Rangers in back-to-back games.
Peters, again asked about Jordan Staal, raised the possibility of the center getting back in the next week, saying, "If he's ready before Christmas we're going to play him." But Peters also noted a post-Christmas return might be more realistic. Staal suffered a broken right fibula Sept. 23.
Staal, last off the ice Thursday, again said he would not push the issue. While eager to play he has to be prudent about rushing things and risking complications.
"I've been feeling really good and there has been no crazy complications," Staal said. "Nothing has been holding me back and setting me back.
"The trainers and everyone are keeping an eye on me. I've been known to do a few things at times and maybe push things too far. I think I've gone really slow and it's reacted really well, so I'm very happy with that and where I am right now."