The Carolina Hurricanes continue to work, wait and hope.
The Canes trained for the third day in a row Tuesday at PNC Arena, again ending training with extra skating.
“It almost looks like a mini training camp,” said goalkeeper Antti Raanta.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour won’t be discussing this point much. He’s kept things crisp and on-point in the three practices following the holiday break, all aimed at preparing and preparing his squad for the next time the Canes play a game.
It could be Thursday. The Canes (21-7-1) should host the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal, with nine players on the NHL COVID-19 roster, returned to road play Tuesday against Tampa Bay and lost 5-4 in overtime.
Things can change quickly. If they let go of the puck on Thursday at PNC Arena, that will be the end of the game. Until there …
“You can’t look too far because everything is constantly changing,” Brind’Amour said on Tuesday.
Regarding the Canes’ practices, Brind’Amour said, “We pushed pretty hard, trying to get back up to speed. You don’t often have too much free time. I felt like we had to go for it to at least have the best chances. “
The Canes last played Dec. 18 against the Los Angeles Kings, claiming a 5-1 victory at PNC Arena as goaltender Frederik Andersen made 32 saves for his 16th win of the season. Games against Nashville, Boston, Ottawa and Florida were then postponed by the NHL as the league grappled with COVID outbreaks on several teams, including the Canes.
The league announced later on Tuesday that the Canes’ Jan. 3 game in Toronto had also been postponed due to current attendance restrictions in Canada – Carolina’s sixth postponement overall.
Andersen was put on the COVID list on December 22. Raanta will start the Montreal game, if played, and the Canes called AHL Chicago Wolves goaltender Alex Lyon on Tuesday for their new team of taxis – Lyon was in practice on Tuesday.
“We were lucky to have almost all of the training on the ice so we were able to work on our game a bit and work on some things that we think could be a little better,” Raanta said on Tuesday. .
The Canes again had 11 forwards and six defenders in training and are expected to add more to the taxi squad on Wednesday or Thursday. Forward Jack Drury, who scored in his first two NHL games after being called up from the Wolves, is thinking of returning.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association have agreed to reinstate taxi teams, at least as part of the NHL All-Star Weekend, to help with COVID absences. But Brind’Amour noted that there is still a fine line to be crossed with these teams.
“You sure don’t want a bunch of guys sitting and not playing who are your best prospects or whatever,” he said.
If Tuesday’s training was a guide, the Canes lines on Thursday could have Sebastian Aho in the middle of Teuvo Teravainen and Nino Niederreiter; Vincent Trocheck with Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas; and Jordan Staal in the center of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Seth Jarvis. If Drury is recalled, he could be partnered with Derek Stepan and Steven Lorentz.
The defensive pairs had Jaccob Slavin partnering with Tony DeAngelo, Brady Skeji with Brett Pesce and Ian Cole with Ethan Bear.
The Canes are ready to play again. But when?
“It’s kind of an open-ended situation that we find ourselves in right now,” Cole said on Monday. “It’s probably going to be a weird year. It will probably be touch-and-go the rest of the year.