It almost seemed like breaking news Monday: the Carolina Hurricanes were back on the ice in Raleigh.
The Canes left immediately after the Jan. 30 home game against the St. Louis Blues and did not return from a four-game road trip until Sunday. The Canes lost to the New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks in the first two games of the road swing before a shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes and then a 5-4 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks.
"The biggest thing I liked was that in San Jose we skated again," Canes coach Bill Peters said Monday. "We had a lot of pace to our game. We had gap speed, puck speed, foot speed. Coming out of the All-Star break we weren't quite as dynamic, I think, with our feet and skating, but we skated real well in San Jose."
Defenseman Ryan Murphy suffered a lower-body injury in the Coyotes game after taking a high-stick to the face and falling backward. Murphy had an MRI on Monday and did not practice at Raleigh Center Ice, although he did have some off-ice treatment at RCI.
Peters said he had not gotten the MRI results but noted Murphy would not play Thursday when the Canes face the Ducks at PNC Arena.
"He saw the doctor (Sunday) and everything was as positive as can be," Peters said.
The Canes (19-26-7) have 30 games remaining in the regular season and again won't be a part of the playoffs. The NHL's March 2 trade deadline is approaching and personnel changes likely will be coming.
Center Jay McClement said the Canes' objective over the last 30 games is to "try and build an identity to go into next year."
"Who knows what's going to happen the next couple of weeks here but all we can worry about is the way we're playing," McClement said. "Just try and build an identity so we can start up (higher) than where we were in the standings.