After a well-earned two days of rest, the Hurricanes were back on the ice today with just one exception – center Matt Cullen, who remained sidelined with the lower-body injury that has kept him out of the team’s last three games.
“He’s not feeling as good as we’d like him to,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We’re also in a position where, clearly every game is critical, but with each win we can push him back a couple of days.”
By winning each of their last six games, the Canes are now in the relatively luxurious position of not having to rush injured players back in the lineup. As was the case near the end of last season, the argument can be made that doing so before a player is feeling 100 percent could actually do more harm than good.
It doesn’t hurt that the versatile Jussi Jokinen, who is centering the team’s second line with Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose in Cullen’s absence, has done an admirable job.
“There’s really no point putting [Cullen] in the lineup now unless he can outplay Jussi Jokinen, who has taken that position right now and played very well there,” said Maurice. “It’s all about efficiency, I don’t think Matt feels strong enough now to play as well as Jussi is playing for us right there. We’ll rest him until he does.”
Scott Walker, the only other player on the team’s injury report, went through full practice with the team today. Although the rugged winger has been medically cleared to play, Maurice said a final decision on his status for Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers likely wouldn’t be made until after that day’s morning skate.