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Improved Ruutu a game-time decision

by Mike G. Morreale /
RALEIGH, N.C. - Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu appeared sharp and energetic during his team's Saturday morning skate, showing no lingering effects of the lower-body injury he suffered in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Carolina coach Paul Maurice said his availability remains a game-time decision. Ruutu skated for 20 minutes, taking part in most of the team drills.

"He got through the morning skate and we're pleased with how that happened, but we'll bring him back (Saturday night) to see if there was an increase in swelling," Maurice said. "He knows the guidelines for what he needs to do to say that he can play in our lineup and that decision won't get made until (Saturday night)."

Teammates Dennis Seidenberg and Tim Gleason know the impact Ruutu would have if inserted back in the lineup.

"It would be great; he's a good physical presence and that's what we need up front for our forecheck," Seidenberg said. "And even for scoring, he's the power forward that we need."

"I think it would be huge, especially at home because he's a physical guy, a skilled guy who can put the puck in the net," Gleason said. "I think we've missed him a lot (in Game 2) and we have a better opportunity to be on the physical side of things with him in the lineup. We'll see if he's ready to go."

Thursday, Maurice had top-line center Eric Staal with Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose; Rod Brind'Amour with Scott Walker and Jussi Jokinen; Matt Cullen with Sergei Samsonov and Erik Cole and Ryan Bayda with Patrick Dwyer and Patrick Eaves. Of course, it's expected most of those combinations would be altered with the hard-hitting Ruutu back in the lineup.

When asked if he would create some mismatches by using more of his fourth line now that he gets the final line change on home ice at RBC Center, Maurice interestingly responded, "We'll see what the fourth line looks like first."
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