I had some time and attended the Carolina Hurricanes practice as well as the Jim Rutherford press conference on Thursday. The team seemed pretty happy to be home and were in good spirits on the ice.
Newcomer, Andrei Loktionov was at practice and was skating with the fourth line along with Manny Malhotra and Drayson Bowman. Coach Kirk Muller said that he would rotate the Russian around a bit and see where there is chemistry and where he fits in best.
Alexander Semin was off the ice and took a maintenance day. He is expected to return on Friday.
Ryan Murphy was also on the ice, his first day of being recalled from Charlotte.
Loktionov speaks English very well and seemed pleased to have a fresh start. When asked about scoring his first career NHL goal against the Hurricanes, he chuckled and said that the Hurricanes were his "lucky team". He does not know any of his new teammates very well, but Semin did call him and welcome him to the group. He said that he had talked before with Anton Khudobin as well.
Kirk Muller had a press conference after practice as usual and reiterated that he feels the team is playing well and deserved a better fate out west. He likes his current first line and looks to keep them together for now. As far as the goalie situation, he plans to handle that on a day-to-day basis.
A bit later, Rutherford met with the media upstairs and answered questions about the team's trade deadline day.
Apparently, the GM agrees with his coach, that the team has played well on the road trip. He said that they outplayed Buffalo, but the goalie was the first star of the game. They were a bit set back from the Buffalo game and had a slow start in Dallas and got jumped on quickly. They played an even game with the Kings that could have gone either way, and Anaheim was waiting for them.
"There is a fine line between winning and losing in the NHL and quite often the goaltending makes the difference," he said.
He went on to say that his primary objective yesterday was to dump Tuomo Ruutu's salary and he was successful in doing that, although the team will have to pay a portion, (reportedly 20%). He went on to say that Ruutu had earned his contract back when he signed it, but after that the production went way down and they expected much more from him.
JR said that he could have dumped more salary if he wished, but he has not given up on this season yet. He still feels that the group they have is capable of making the playoffs.
He did not feel that any deals were suitable to bringing in any other players to help though. There were not any good fits.
When asked yet again about the poor record on the road trip, Rutherford said that the road trip is not the reason the team is where they are, they are in the place they are because of some poor, inconsistent performances while at home, earlier in the year.
He went on about the goaltending and said that will be sorted out this summer. He did not say how it would be sorted, but that he had much respect for all of the goalies. He said that Cam Ward's problems were more mental than physical. He had never been pushed for a job like Khudobin has pushed him this season.
It sounded like the GM would be satisfied with a possible tandem of Khudobin and Peters next season.
Needless to say, the next three games against the Rangers/Devils/Rangers will be huge.
Link to the press conference is here: CH.com