Canes coach Kirk Muller would have liked to have had something close to his game group for opening night play Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
That's not going to happen, not after injuries to Tim Gleason, Alex Semin, Tuomo Ruutu and Elias Lindholm. And now, add Jeff Skinner to that list.
Skinner did not practice Thursday morning at PNC Arena and Muller said he likely would sit out the final two preseason games with a lower-body injury. The Canes, after hosting Buffalo on Friday, have Saturday off and it's possible Skinner could return for practice Sunday.
"We just want to be smart and not push him," Muller said.
With Skinner out, Jeremy Welsh will be in the lineup for the Columbus game. Healthy players missing the game will be defensemen Mike Komisarek and Matt Corrente, and forward Zac Dalpe.
Cam Ward will be in net for the Canes, facing the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky. Muller said a decision would be made after the game on whether to start Ward again Friday against the Sabres.
The lines for Columbus will have Eric Staal centering Jiri Tlusty and Chris Terry; Jordan Staal at center with Nathan Gerbe and Pat Dwyer; Riley Nash centering Drayson Bowman and Radek Dvorak; and Brett Sutter at center with Welsh and Kevin Westgarth.
Defensively, the pairs will be Justin Faulk-Andrej Sekera, Jay Harrison-Brett Bellemore and Ryan Murphy-Ron Hainsey.
"Tonight's a good game to fine-tune stuff ... (and) see what areas we need to spend more time on the week before opening night," Muller said.
As for the effect of the injuries, Muller said, "It's what it is. Again, we'll keep working on our systems and we haven't made all the final cuts, so it's an opportunity for guys to keep playing and battling."