The Canes likely will be without defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs and have called up Michal Jordan from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).
Pitkanen and Gleason both missed the morning skate at PNC Arena with lower-body injuries. Pitkanen definitely will not play tonight -- his status remains "day to day" -- and Canes coach Kirk Muller said Gleason was questionable for the game while not completely ruling him out.
"Jordan will be a safety valve if he can't go," Muller said.
Jordan, who is in his third professional season, would be making his NHL debut. Jordan, 22, was a fourth-round pick by the Canes in 2008 and has had a solid season for the Checkers, with six goals, nine assists and a plus-11 rating in 48 games. He was named to the AHL All-Star Classic for the first time this season, representing the Western Conference.
"He's a left-handed guy, he moves the puck well, he knows the game, he's a smart player," Muller said of Jordan, a native of the Czech Republic.
Muller noted dealing with injuries in a condensed season will be critical for every NHL team. The Ottawa Senators have lost defenseman Erik Karlsson to a slashed Achilles tendon and the Leafs are without No. 1 goalie James Reimer.
"Everyone is going to lose key players, role players, whatever," he said. "There can't be any excuses. It's an opportunity for other guys, and people just have to step up. You have to find ways to win because I think pretty much every team is go through it in this type of a season."
The Canes, back in Raleigh after a six-game, 12-day road trip, will have Dan Ellis in goal tonight. Cam Ward was 4-0-1 on the trip and at his best, but Muller is a little wary of that first game back home after a long road swing.
"We've got confidence in both," Muller said. "Cam did what he had to do on the road trip. He won the games he needed to win. We had three (games) in four (days) there, and we know how hard it is to come back for that first home game -- it's probably the toughest game.
"Ellis is rested. He's ready to go. We thought he would be a good choice tonight to get back in the mix."
Ellis shut out the Senators 1-0 in the Canes' last home game, on Feb. 2. He then started the first game of the trip the next day against the Philadelphia Flyers but was lifted early in the second period after allowing four goals on 12 shots in a 5-3 loss.
The Canes will not have any lineup or line changes among the 12 forwards from the 4-2 victory Tuesday over the New Jersey Devils. Kevin Westgarth should be the healthy extra.
While the Canes were 4-1-1 on the road trip and are 5-2-1 on the road this season, the Leafs are 6-1-0 in road games. Since losing 4-1 to the Canes on Feb. 4 in Toronto, the Leafs have reeled off four straight wins including road victories in Washington, Winnipeg and Montreal.
"We have to come out just as hard as we did on the road," Canes forward Jiri Tlusty said today. "We have this game, then two days to relax and recharge. So we need to go out tonight and be a hard team to play against and do all the little things like we did on the road."