RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—When Hurricanes' forward Jussi Jokinen fell on top of Tampa's Ryan Shannon after a face-off Tuesday night, it looked pretty ugly. About a month's worth of ugly, as it turns out.
Who will fill Jokinen's slot is unknown at this point heading into Friday's visit by the Washington Capitals. Zac Dalpe, currently on a conditioning stint in Charlotte after recovering from an injury of his own, could get a look. Recent call-ups Drayson Bowman and Zack Boychuk are also currently on the roster. And coach Paul Maurice could take the opportunity to shuffle the entire team's configuration, something he hasn't done much of thus far this season after almost continuously churning line combinations last fall.
Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose had excellent games Tuesday flanking captain Eric Staal, but one would be hard-pressed to say the line had chemistry. Staal's game remains somewhat at sea. He might be a good candidate to put between Ruutu, whose physical game has come around after a passive start, and Skinner, whose point-a-game pace leads the Canes.
A trade is likely a remote possibility, although Carolina seems to have more blueliners than they need. Derek Joslin has been watching Canes games from the press box, and teenager Justin Faulk might be ready for another stint in Raleigh after impressing in the first few games. General manager Jim Rutherford has a talent for early-season tinkering but has been silent thus far.
A visit from the Capitals is always interesting, and Jokinen's absence thickens the plot for Friday night.