A day after the Carolina Hurricanes had only 13 skaters at practice, the team got a few bodies back and goalie Cam Ward took shots with the team for the first time since an injury on Nov. 7.
"We're closing in on 20," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "When we get to Saturday, I guarantee you we're going to have [a full roster]. We've got a couple of injured guys out there that aren't effected by skating so they're able to get through it."
Sergei Samsonov, Brandon Sutter and Ray Whitney were back on the ice after sitting out of Wednesday's practice at the RecZone. Still missing (but seen inside the RBC Center) were forwards Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose.
Maurice said he expects LaRose and Jokinen to be in Saturday's lineup against the Vancouver Canucks.
"It's more the longer we give them, the closer we can get them to 100 percent," Maurice said.
Thursday's practice at the RBC Center went a little longer than usual and Maurice was demonstrative in going over some of the finer points on a few drills.
"You get the four days off [in between games] and we've got guys that have been off for two days and we haven't had a chance for guys to get a good skate in for a long time," Maurice said.
Ward was limber and responsive in his first day of facing shots from the team. The last two days he practiced with assistant coach Tom Barrasso.
"There's something to be said for talent," Maurice said. "He still gets in front of it. He's technically so good, so quick, that even when he's not moving on one leg, he's good."
Maurice is still hopeful that Ward will be ready for Wednesday's road game against the New Jersey Devils. Ward said he was close.
"Yesterday was the first time I saw a puck [in drills with Barrasso]," Ward said. "Today we made progress and I felt pretty good out there."
Ward seemed surprised that he's made such quick progress. Ward's knee was cut by a skate against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"It's been three weeks since I've seen a shot so you'd think it would take some time to get your reaction back, but quite honestly I felt pretty comfortable in the net. Hopefully I can get a couple more good practices in. ... There's not too many movements in my game where I'm limited because of motion because of my knee. There's still a little bit of slight pain, but that should be going away in no time."
Since losing Ward, the Hurricanes (5-17-5) have gone 3-7-1.
"It's been real difficult for me," Ward said. "Obviously I want to be out there and help out the team as best as I can. I was saying, I don't know what hurts more, my leg or having to sit from the sidelines watching. Part of being a goaltender is you want to be out there helping out your team as best you can. Hopefully I can do that in the coming week."
Later in the afternoon, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Bryan Rodney will be recalled from the Albany River Rats to replace Joe Corvo, who is expected to miss 2-3 months after suffering a serious cut in the right leg by a skate in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. Rodney will be here for Friday's practice at the RBC Center.
"He's a good skater, a good puck mover," Rutherford said. "He can help the power play a little bit. He's the player the coaches were most comfortable with when we talked about what our needs are right now."
Rodney has been shipped back-and-forth several times this season, which neither Rutherford or Maurice see as a bad thing. The 25-year-old defenseman from London, Ont. has played in six games with the Hurricanes this season already, earning a pair of assists with an average of 18:27 of ice time per game.
With the River Rats this season, he has a goal and five assists in 16 games.