Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner is tired of watching games from the press level or the dressing room. Being up top during games offers a different perspective, Skinner said Wednesday. Being in the room, watching on TV, gives him the opportunity to see replays. But Skinner wants to be on the ice. And the Canes need him on the ice. After missing the past 11 games with an upper-body injury, Skinner may return Thursday for the game against the Detroit Red Wings. A decision, Canes coach Kirk Muller said, will be made after the morning skate. "He's a game-breaker," Muller said Wednesday. "A lot of our games have been one-goal games. That's where he excelled early in the season. "He's capable of making that game-breaking play that can put you in the lead or tie a game. He has that different dimension we need right now as far as all these tight games, having a natural goal-scorer. And that's what he is." Skinner was the Canes' leading scorer with three goals and six assists when he was injured Oct. 24 in the road game against the Minnesota Wild. It was the same game in which goalie Cam Ward left early with a groin injury. The Canes (8-9-4) lost the game against the Wild and four more before going 4-0-1 on a recent run of five home games. They've now lost the past two and announced Monday that winger Alexander Semin is out indefinitely with a concussion. During Wednesday's practice, Muller had Skinner on Eric Staal's line opposite winger Jiri Tlusty. He also had Skinner on the power-play unit with Staal, Nathan Gerbe, Chris Terry and Ryan Murphy. "It's been frustrating. It's tough to watch," Skinner said of the injury. "But the last six, seven games we've been playing pretty well. "My role will be to chip in offensively. The 11 games I've been out the team has done a great job defending and being responsible in our own end and working out from there. That's something we've taken pride in and want to continue, so I think coming back that will be the main focus, being responsible." But the Canes need more offense. With Semin sidelined, they need more creativity and craftiness with the puck – things Skinner can do well. "He has those offensive instincts," Eric Staal said. "Hopefully, Jeff will be with us and do what he does best, find the holes." Whether five-on-five, five-on-four, four-on-four or four-on-three, the Hurricanes have had problems scoring. They did score two shorthanded goals Saturday in the 4-2 loss to St. Louis. The Canes are averaging 1.9 goals a game and have not scored three goals in a game since Oct. 19. That ratchets up the pressure on the defense and goaltending. "Everybody knows the system, everybody knows what they need to do," Eric Staal said. "It's a matter of going out there and executing it. We'd like to think it's going to happen soon but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say guys are pressing trying to score. "You have to stay up, stay positive and keep working on things to help us in the offensive zone."
Canes' Jeff Skinner antsy to get back on the ice
Raleigh News & Observer | Nov 21