The Canes' Scott Walker says he's ready to play.
And with Jussi Jokinen returning to Finland after the death of his father, Walker also feels the need to play, to get back in the lineup and help as the Canes head to Washington for Tuesday's game against the Capitals.
"I'm feeling good. That's the important thing right now," Walker said after a full practice today at the RecZone. "Now I've got to get into these big games and be competitive and be a part of them."
Walker has been sidelined since Jan. 27 with post-concussion symptoms. But he said last week that he was close to returning, and Canes coach Paul Maurice said he needed a few full practices before jumping back into the lineup.
"He felt he's been very, very close for a while," Maurice said today. "As much as we possibly can we want to make sure he can get through it.
"There's no guarantees. Any player, even one who's never had a concussion. You get the wrong hit tomorrow night and you're back. And that's the difficult part of assessing this — you can say he's fine, and he is fine, and he may just take a hit that anybody can get a concussion (from)."
Playing the Caps is always a physical affair, with an edge to the game. It's also a game the Canes need to win after the bitter disappointment of the 5-3 loss Saturday in Atlanta.
"There will be a lot of excitement in the room," Walker said. "I'll be able to feed off the adrenaline of the guys and the pace of the game. Washington is a big, strong physical team and I'm excited for the challenge."
Walker was working on the fourth line with Ryan Bayda and Tim Conboy in today's practice.
The other lines had Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu on Eric Staal's line, with Michael Ryan on Rod Brind'Amour's line with Patrick Eaves.
Matt Cullen's line stays intact with Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose.