Another game, another game-time decision for Tuomo Ruutu
Coaches often rely on that designation to injured players at this time of year because it’s a way of answering the question without really answering it, but this instance seems genuine. Ruutu took the morning skate today and was moving well, although he rarely broke into a full stride.
“He got through the morning skate. We’re pleased with how that happened,” said Paul Maurice. “We’ll see if there’s an increase in swelling, and he’s going to make a good decision. We’ve set out the guidelines for what he needs to be able to say that he can play in our lineup, and that decision won’t get made until tonight.”
The team also didn’t work in set lines at today’s session, indicating that there is some real uncertainty on whether the rugged Finn will be available. When asked if he planned to use his fourth line more than usual tonight, Maurice suggested as much.
“We’ll see what our fourth line looks like first.”
Ruutu, who has been dealing with a lower body injury, left the ice early (not because he couldn’t continue) and was not available to the media afterwards.
Whether he’s in the lineup or not, the Canes are actually feeling OK about their offense. Sure, Eric Staal hasn’t found the back of the net in this series and the power play squandered a good 4-on-3 chance in Game 2, but the feeling is that four goals on the road should be enough to win.
With that in mind, the team reiterated much of what was said yesterday in terms of limiting Pittsburgh’s scoring chances, particularly those of star forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Maurice said the solution to that problem would come from smarts rather than an increase in work ethic or physical play.
“Malkin and Crosby’s first two goals were based on what we were doing away from them, not to them,” said Maurice. “We were chasing pucks that we shouldn’t have chased or not recognizing the guy coming off the bench and giving him that ice.“What we need to do better is pick and choose our spots where we’re going to be aggressive and not chase things that can’t hurt us.”