Canes Now

Much like relief pitchers in baseball, would Canes use new goalie in shootouts?

It was a hockey hypothetical, but one that Canes coach Bill Peters doesn't dismiss as too unconventional.

What if you had one goalie who was a lot more effective and comfortable in shootouts while the other goalie struggled? Should a coach consider using the effective goalie, even if it meant him entering a game after sitting and watching the first 65 minutes -- a hockey relief pitcher, if you will.

"I would do it," Peters said Thursday. "I would do that if I had to do that. It's something you would have to talk about, prior. You'd have to get him warmed up during the overtime. He'd have to do what he has to do and mentally get his head wrapped around it.

"It couldn't be something, I think, you could do at this level when you're stone-cold, a last-second decision. I don't think that would be fair. But if you discussed it and he knows it's coming and he's not surprised (and) the other guy knows it's a possibility, I think it could a seamless transition."

Again, a hypothetical. The Canes' Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin were not mentioned in the discussion, although the implication was there. Khudobin does appear more comfortable in shootouts than Ward and was in net for the Canes' three shootout victories this season -- against New Jersey, Boston and Colorado.

"The points in the shootout are obviously valuable," Peters said. "There's the difference a lot of times in making or missing the playoffs. That's something, if there's a big discrepancy among your goaltenders, you could do quite comfortably."

Peters said he has not done it before as a coach, on any level, but said he did see it occur while coaching in the AHL.

"I think it makes sense if it's the right fit," he said.

-- Andrej Nestrasil returned to practice Thursday, a little travel weary but happy to be back with the Canes after a conditioning stint with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).

Nestrasil, who played three games in five days, was used on the fourth line with Jay McClement and Pat Dwyer. Peters said no decision had yet been made on whether the winger would play Friday against the Vancouver Canucks. He last played for the Canes on Dec. 8 against New Jersey.

The other lines Thursday had Jordan Staal centering Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask centering Nathan Gerbe and Jiri Tlusty, and Riley Nash at center with Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin. Brad Malone and Chris Terry were the extra forwards.

The defensive pairs were Andrej Sekera-Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey-Ryan Murphy and Tim Gleason-John-Michael Liles. Brett Bellemore was the extra D-man.

-- The Canes have three games in four days heading into the NHL All-Star break. The Canucks play Thursday night in Philadelphia and will come to Carolina for the second of a back-to-back.

Vancouver topped the Canes 4-1 on Oct. 28 in the last of Carolina’s four-game Canadian road swing.

"We need to finish properly," Peters said. "We've got three games left, we've played well this month and we need to keep our foot on the gas."