The Carolina Hurricanes are in an uncomfortable position with a game postponed at Minnesota on Tuesday because of COVID protocols to end what was supposed to be a five-game road trip.
They have returned home to begin a stretch of three scheduled games across four days. That starts against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C.
Carolina’s roster will be reduced.
“You just have to roll with it,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “We’ve got a good team that is deep. … We have to take it one day at a time and continue to grind through it.”
At least six players have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Captain Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Ian Cole and Steven Lorentz entered that category Tuesday, leading to the postponement of the game at Minnesota.
The complexion of the game-night roster could be interesting for Carolina. The situation is complicated by issues related to the salary cap.
“There’s a lot of other parts involved,” head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It is what it is. Just trying to get by day to day right now.”
The first meeting of the season between the teams means that Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic is returning to Carolina. He was one of the NHL’s top rookies last season while playing for the Hurricanes, before the club opted to trade him to Detroit in July.
Nedeljkovic is coming off a 33-save performance Tuesday in Detroit’s 2-1 home victory over the New York Islanders.
On Tuesday, Carolina was preparing to play its second game in a row without center Sebastian Aho, the team’s leading scorer. He and forward Seth Jarvis entered COVID protocol earlier this week and remained behind in Vancouver.
There has been plenty of roster juggling because the Hurricanes called up Andrew Poturalski, who leads the American Hockey League in scoring. He played in two previous NHL games, both in April 2017. On Wednesday, he was reassigned to Chicago of the AHL in what appears to be a paperwork move.
“He definitely is an offensive player and knows how to play,” Brind’Amour said.
The would-be game at Minnesota was supposed to mark the return to action for Carolina defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Brett Pesce, who did not participate in the Canadian portion of the road swing because of COVID protocols.
Defenseman Jalen Chatfield wouldn’t have played Tuesday because of an injury Sunday, so that adds to the roster dilemmas. He was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
With all the moving parts, Brind’Amour said the good news is the Carolina players haven’t been feeling ill despite the positive tests.
“This is the world we live in right now,” said Brind’Amour, whose team posted a 3-1-0 record on the trip.
The Red Wings have had more encouraging news on and off the ice this week. They defeated the Islanders 2-1 to snap a three-game losing streak.
“A good boost that we badly needed,” Detroit center Dylan Larkin said.
In that game, Detroit had forward Tyler Bertuzzi back in the lineup following a five-game absence because of COVID protocols.
Also, the Red Wings announced a three-year contract extension for center Robby Fabbri. He has 63 points in 110 games with the team, putting him third among Detroit players on the scoring list during that time frame.
“It’s just such a great group that we’ve got going in there, and improving each and every year,” Fabbri said. “It’s fun to be a part of.”
The Red Wings are 4-9-1 in road games.
–Field Level Media