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Langenbrunner expected in Game 6 lineup

by Brian Compton
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The captain is back.

With a chance to advance to the second round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jamie Langenbrunner will return to the New Jersey Devils' lineup on Sunday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 6 at the RBC Center (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS).

Langenbrunner suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2 and missed the past three games. He will be placed right back on the team's top line, skating alongside Travis Zajac and Zach Parise.

"I'm pretty confident that I'm ready and I feel good," said Langenbrunner, who skated with the team in New Jersey Saturday and again Sunday morning. "It would have been questionable if I could have played (Saturday) night. But anytime you can get a few more days, it definitely helps."

The return of Langenbrunner provides the Devils with yet another veteran presence who has been involved in intense series before. New Jersey coach Brent Sutter is obviously thrilled to have his captain back in the mix. Brian Rolston replaced Langenbrunner on the top line, while Bobby Holik took Langenbrunner's spot in the lineup.

"To be able to get our captain back in the lineup, he's obviously been an important player for us," Sutter said. "We've been able to find ways to prevail here without him, yet it's always nice to have your captain back in the lineup."

Devils fans need not worry that Langenbrunner is being rushed back too quickly. The captain put such a theory to rest on Sunday morning.

"I'm ready … that's the bottom line," Langenbrunner said. "If I wasn't ready, I wouldn't put myself or the team in the situation of a guy who's not ready to go out there and play. I'm ready."

"I'm ready … that's the bottom line.  If I wasn't ready, I wouldn't put myself or the team in the situation of a guy who's not ready to go out there and play. I'm ready." -- Jamie Langenbrunner
Carolina coach Paul Maurice is hopeful that forward Sergei Samsonov will play on Sunday night after missing Game 5 with a lower-body injury. Samsonov skated before the rest of his teammates Sunday morning. Matt Cullen did not skate, but will be in the lineup.

"We're hopeful that he'll play tonight … we want to make sure that he can get through the warm-up," Maurice said. "He skated earlier this morning and felt pretty good."   

It also appears as if defenseman Anton Babchuk will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Game 5. Babchuk was not one of the last skaters on the ice for the Hurricanes this morning -- a strong indication that he will play in Game 6.

"You will see some new faces in our lineup tonight," Maurice said.  

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