Is this the day, the time, the game, that Canes forward Justin Williams finally returns?
"You betcha," a smiling Williams said today.
Williams tore an Achilles tendon before preseason training camp and was expected to be out until late-January or early February. That came after he missed much of last season with a knee injury.
But tonight's the night. Williams said he expected to have limited minutes and may play on Brandon Sutter's line.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's been 11 months now, give or take a day or two," Williams said.
Turns out, Williams' first game this season will be with a new coach, Paul Maurice. So the attention tonight against the Penguins will be shared.
"Regardless (of the coaching change), I'm still going to have the same energy I would have," Williams said. "I'll be the happiest one out there. I'll be ready to go.
"I'll just try to work my way in and see how it goes, how the game goes. See how I feel and go from there."
Forward Ryan Bayda said having a new coach behind the bench obviously would be an impetus for the team. But maybe more so, he said, woud be having a teammate back on the ice.
"We're all thrilled that he's back," Bayda said. "He brings a lot -- just his presence in the locker room, his leadership. At a time we need a boost, we need a positive outlook, he's there for us.
"There aren't too many teams in the league right now who are getting an All-Star player coming back. It's perfect timing for us."