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Line Adjustments aim to Provide Boost

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Yesterday was the power play’s turn to have a different look.  Today, those changes carried over to even strength.

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Continuing with what worked in the team’s last game against Anaheim, Rod Brind’Amour centered a line with Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen, while Eric Staal played with Sergei Samsonov and Patrick Eaves, who is back on a scoring line after bouncing around the lineup in the early going.

It’s the first time in recent memory that Ray Whitney and Eric Staal have been split up.  That change seems to be designed to balance the overall scoring a little bit more, as both of those players have done their part with six and five points through the first two games, respectively, to pace the Canes in scoring.  “The Weapon” (no longer secret), Niclas Wallin, is tied with Staal for second place.

One benefit of the changes could be more involvement from players like Samsonov and Eaves.  They’ve combined for only one point so far - an assist by Eaves on opening night.  I think Samsonov in particular has looked fine so far, and his points will come.  The recent changes may speed that up - both players had their chances in the Anaheim game.

”I think it’s just a balance to get all the lines contributing, just to give it a different look since we had lost a couple of games,” said coach Peter Laviolette.  “Roddy and Whit played together for a year and a half, and the year they played together they were both the leading scorers.  Staal has had some success with Samsonov, and hopefully we can generate offense from more than just one player and do it from multiple lines and the back end.”

Brandon Sutter’s line with Ryan Bayda and Chad LaRose remained unchanged, while Wade Brookbank and Dan LaCouture rounded out an incomplete fourth line caused by Tuomo Ruutu’s continued absence – he skated on his own for a lengthy period prior to practice, but is unlikely to play tomorrow.

“I think at this point it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Laviolette of Ruutu.  “He’s been out for a while, this has been nagging, and I think to get through a practice and give him some time to make sure he’s 100 percent (will be good).  Then when he comes back, he’s here for good.”

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