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Red and Black Hockey

Carolina’s game two lineup changes

With each cryptic update of the injury situations with Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole, it seems more and more evident that neither will suit up for tonight’s game two at Mellon Arena.  Ruutu’s

right ankle

umm…  “lower body” sounds like it’s worse than it looked and Cole’s

left knee

umm… “lower body” sounds like it might not be as bad as it looked. 

The updates are cryptic, confusing and contradictory.  One hour, they’re saying that Ruutu is definitely out and Cole is a gametime decision.  The next, they say that Cole is doubtful and Ruutu is out.  The next, they say both players are hopeful.  No details have been released about the MRI results for either player.  I’m going to assume that neither player will go tonight. 

There are a load of different lineup options which have been outlined by Luke Decock.  Here’s what I think:

Jussi Jokinen should be moved to the top line right wing with Ray Whitney and Eric Staal. 
Scott Walker should be second line right wing with Chad LaRose and Matt Cullen.
Patty Eaves should be third line right wing.  This would put Sergei Samsonov on that left wing and Rod Brind’Amour center.
Ryan Bayda will be the fourth line right wing and Dwight Helminen will be brought up from reserves to “center” that line.

Tim Conboy is a versatile skater who could dress as a right wing.  In the AHL, he’s a defenseman, and he’s played the role of right wing/seventh defenseman with Carolina before.  However, his skill set and his pension for committing senseless penalties makes him more of a liability than an asset, so I’m betting that the Canes won’t be using him.  Instead, I’m guessing that they’ll dress Anton Babchuk as that seventh defenseman.  He had a lot of success in the final weeks of the regular season, but has struggled in the playoffs.  He’s played in 12 of Carolina’s 15 games, but he hasn’t looked confident.

The insertion of Helminen into the lineup is virtually certain.  He dressed for one game in the New Jersey series and 23 games in the regular season.  He’s a very good penalty killer and, despite his diminutive stature, he’s good in front of the net.  My line combinations might not be exactly the way it goes down, but I’ll definitely expect to see Helminen and Babchuk in the game tonight. 

One thing that I will expect NOT to see tonight will be retribution against Matt Cooke.  The playoffs aren’t the time for that kind of thing.  Carolina has a couple of guys who certainly won’t shy away from a fight, but I wouldn’t expect to see anyone looking for one.  If Conboy goes in the lineup, he’d be fighting for sure, and probably doing something dumb in the process. 

I wonder how tight the officiating will be tonight.  In game one, they called three penalties in the first seven minutes, then swallowed the whistles.  I don’t think it’ll be the same tonight.  I also wonder what the Vegas odds are on Ray Whitney getting taken out on a “marginal” hit by a Penguins player. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, injuries, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu.

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About Red and Black Hockey

David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science.  He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows.  Sometimes, all in the same day. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.