RALEIGH, N.C. — It's not enough that the Carolina Hurricanes are dealing with yet another slow start to the season. Now the team has to face life without All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk for what may be an extended period of time.
Faulk suffered an upper-body injury earlier in the week against New Jersey and was placed on injured reserve prior to the Washington Capitals coming to PNC Arena on Saturday. It's unclear how serious the injury is to the 24-year- old two-time All-Star, but there likely was some bad news revealed Friday from an MRI taken a few days ago.
The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs seven straight seasons and have started 3-6- 4 this season for 10 points — worst in the NHL.
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Faulk had scored three goals and registered three assists in 11 games prior to his injury. The defenseman missed 18 games in the second half of last season with a lower body injury after he became the first player in NHL history to score his first 12 goals of a season on the power play.
Faulk ended with 16 goals after scoring 15 the season before.
Faulk's loss further depletes an already young and inexperienced defensive corps. Ryan
Murphy moved into the lineup in place of Faulk in a 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Thursday night.
“That's been a mystery that third pairing,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “There have been a bunch of combinations and we haven't found one that has been 100 percent successful for us, so we're still looking there.”
Peters will also look to a variety of players to fill the vacant point position by Faulk on the power play, one of the bright spots so far this season for Carolina, which is 9 th in the NHL with the man advantage.
“Now we have an opportunity to play some guys on the power play who are chomping at the bit,” Peters said. “We've got some guys who can step in there and away we go. Now they get their opportunity to show what they can do. It's all the scheme, just some of the personnel shifts around. It's all about confidence on the power play.”
The Hurricanes will get their first look at the Capitals on Saturday night in the second game of a five-game homestand. Over the last four seasons the Hurricanes are just 6-10- 2 against Washington.
The Capitals, who won 3-2 in overtime Friday night at Chicago, will be at the midway mark of a three game road swing when they play in Raleigh.
The Capitals, who are in a situation with games on back-to-back nights against a team with more rest, might consider lineup alterations. Still, making changes isn't something that coach Barry Trotz is committed to.
“When you have a healthy back end, I think that's a unit you try to keep as stable as you can,” Trotz said.
The Capitals are also evaluating what's happening at the other end of the ice.
“I'd like to see a little bit more offense from all our lines,” Trotz said, especially realizing that might be necessary Saturday night given the long game a night before.
The Hurricanes are trying to improve their home record.
“Good starts at home are big, but we have to worry about ourselves,” Peters said. “Playing at home is an opportunity to get some traction. We're looking forward to the challenge.”
Carolina also announced the club was sending forward Phil Di Giuseppe to its AHL affiliate in Charlotte. In his second NHL season, the left wing hasn't registered a point in 11 games after notching seven goals and 10 assists in 41 games with the Hurricanes last year.
This game comes just a day after the Hurricanes announced that forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Bickell, 30, scored one goal in seven games in what's his first season with the Hurricanes. He was acquired in June from the Chicago Blackhawks.