Dealing with the flu is tough for any hockey player at any position, but especially so for a goalie.
There's all the ups and downs, the side-to-side movement, the squatting and ... well, you get the idea. It's tough. Just ask Dan Ellis.
"With the forwards or D, you can manage the workload a little bit and maybe miss a few shifts here and there," Ellis said today. "With a goalie that's impossible. You've got to play the 60 minutes and you don't know if it's going to be a high-shot game or low-shot game.
"There's so much that's out of your control and when you're not feeling well, when you don't have energy to make your pushes and stay on your feet. ... When you're a half-second slow in the NHL, that's not good for a goalie."
Ellis will start tonight against the New Jersey Devils after serving as the backup the past two games as he continued to recover from the flu. He was to have started the game last Sunday in Florida but fell ill a few hours before game time.
Cam Ward started against the Panthers, only to suffer a serious sprain of his left knee midway through the second period. Ellis, sick as he was, gutted it out and finished the game, stopping 19 of 21 shots in a 3-2 win.
"I felt like puking most of that game," Ellis said. "The flu, once it zaps your energy and once it causes nauseousness, it's not a good combination. But that was a situation where you know you have to play, and it was only half a game."
Justin Peters has started the past two games -- the 4-3 win over Buffalo and a 4-2 loss Thursday to Montreal. Now, it's Ellis' turn again.
"Ellis has played really well for us this year," Canes coach Kirk Muller said today. "Peters has been up before and so the guys are familiar with him. Both have the personalities that the guys want to play hard for and do well for. Ellis has the chance to get in tonight and I think the guys are ready to play for him again."
The Canes beat the Devils 4-2 on Dec. 12 in Newark with Ward facing off against Martin Brodeur. With Brodeur still out with a back problem, Johan Hedberg will start for the Devils -- the first time since March 21, 2000 that neither Ward nor Brodeur were in net for the game.
Centers Riley Nash and Tim Brent will return to the Canes' lineup -- Nash missing the Montreal game with an illness and Brent coming off injured reserve on Friday. Nash will center the third line with Pat Dwyer and Chris Terry, who was recalled Friday from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) and will be making his NHL debut.
"He's been scoring, he's been producing. He deserves a shot," Muller said of Terry.
Having Nash and Brent back allows Muller to use Jussi Jokinen on the right side of Jordan Staal's line opposite Jeff Skinner. The fourth line will have Brent centering Drayson Bowman and Tim Wallace.
Muller said defenseman Joni Pitkanen did some skating on his own Saturday before the morning skate and his status remains "day to day." Winger Chad LaRose continues to be sidelined with a concussion.