Although he was unexpectedly removed from the lineup at the last minute prior to Thursday night’s loss at New Jersey, Sergei Samsonov is still a possibility to play in Sunday’s Game 6 at the RBC Center.
Little is known about his ailment, as the information released at playoff time is typically much more restricted than in the regular season. The Canes did not skate today, so the Russian winger would have received a day off the ice no matter what.
“It’s not so serious that it’s out of the realm, but a lot of it’s just kind of how he feels,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “He’s a pretty tough lad and he’s played with some things before. We weren’t at 100 percent last night and didn’t want to put him in a situation where if we played him we knew he wouldn’t play in Game 6. We’re hopeful.”
In Samsonov’s absence, Jussi Jokinen moved up to the third line with Rod Brind’Amour and Patrick Eaves. That wasn’t the only shuffling that occurred in Game 5, as Eric Staal and Matt Cullen swapped places centering the team’s top two scoring lines.
If Maurice has made a decision on whether that change will stick, he wasn’t saying. We may know more after seeing the players together at tomorrow’s practice, although that isn’t even for certain as the Hurricanes would like to give New Jersey as little time to prepare for those match-ups as possible.
Although the lines as they were heading into last night’s game had been relatively consistent for a long while, Maurice said he wasn’t afraid to make a change simply because many of the potential new combinations, such as Eric Staal with Ray Whitney and Rod Brind’Amour with Erik Cole, examples that Maurice used, have had success in the past.
“We may look at moving players around a little bit up front,” said Maurice. “I think that there’s been enough history here because some of these guys have played two or there years together that a change in the lineup isn’t all that drastic.”