Coach Paul Maurice said that Manny Legace would start in net against Vancouver tomorrow afternoon. Michael Leighton, who was ill today, should be the backup. Obviously, this start could be huge for Legace as the Canes claim they still have not made up their minds concerning which backup goalie they will keep when Cam Ward returns next week.
There were 13 fowards on the ice at practice and I asked the coach if a decision had been made who would be scratched tomorrow. Maurice said that a decision would be made before game time on that. Apparently a couple of guys were still banged up and they might choose among the healthiest.
The lines were pretty much set except for one. Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov rotated in with Matt Cullen and Tuomo Ruutu. The other lines looked as follows:
If I had to guess, Jokinen might be the odd man out unless he is 100%. He and LaRose have been out of practice all week, but he was rotated while LaRose was full time.
If not Jokinen, then your guess is as good as mine.
The defensive pairings were mixed although Maurice said that obviously Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason would see the lion's share of work. Could Pitkanen break the 40 minute mark? (joking) He had 33 plus the other night against the Caps. Look for Ward and Alberts to see time together and Rodney to be matched with veteran Niclas Wallin, who will be playing in his 500th game soon. More about that later.
When practice was over and I was on my way out, Eric Staal was still on the ice all by himself. He was practicing shots from tight angles and working on some moves. Is he ready to break out yet?
We will have an official game preview thread up later tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.