The Canes took a day off the ice yesterday but were back skating this morning in preparation for the "all or nothing" game tomorrow night. It looks as though Maurice is staying with the line changes he made in the middle of game five, at least temporarily. Eric Staal was skating with Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose. While Matt Cullen took another maintanance day off the ice, Rod Brind'Amour centered Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu. It seems reasonable to expect that Cullen would skate with Cole and Ruutu in game six, while Brind'Amour returns to center Jokinen and Eaves. But who knows?
In this interview after practice, Maurice says that he plans to mix the lines up from time to time during the game, but at some point will probably put the lines back to what was working in game four. Is he "over-coaching"? (more comments about that below).
More news and links:
Sergei Samsonov stayed off the ice and is still questionable. He will take the morning skate tomorrow and make a decision after that.
Jamie Langenbrunner was back on the ice for the Devils and is expected to play tomorrow.
Retired Pittsburgh Steelers coach and Raleigh resident, Bill Cowher, attended practice today and watched from the stands.
He will ring the siren again for game six along with long time Carolina fan and supporter, Ric Flair. Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers will ring the siren. (thanks DC).
Luke DeCock has redoubled his focus on the Hurricanes since the playoffs and has two new recent stories :
In article one, he calls out Eric Staal. While Staal needs to take more control if the Canes have a chance in this series, it sure would be a benefit if his buddies would help him out a bit. Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu have had but a single, solitary assist between them during the first five games. Cole has a goose egg for the postseason. That's not going to be a big help for his upcoming contract negotiations this offseason.
Speaking of goose eggs, the captain has had little or no impact on this series to date. Where is the call for him to step it up?
In his next story, DeCock questions the wisdom in some of Cam Ward's and Joe Corvo's recent comments.
"I'm not going to sit here and whine about being bumped once or twice."
Good for "Wardo". I see nothing wrong with the players speaking their minds. What are they supposed to do, hide in the shadows in silence, afraid to speak that they might wake up the "the bear"?
After game five, I said that I felt the Canes had been outplayed as well as out-coached so far this series. While I don't think anyone would complain about the Hurricanes effort because both teams have left it all out on the ice, in my opinion the Devils have carried the play more often and have been the more consistent team.
While both goalies played out of their minds on Thursday night, it did not seem like the Canes controlled play until the third period. Remember, the Devils got 42 shots of their own. If Ward isn't playing lights out, the Devils win that game by three or four goals. Also, if the Hurricanes were playing so well, why did Maurice switch the lines around?
I believe that Brent Sutter has been a picture of stability in this series. He has made few noticeable changes, other than pressuring the points more during Carolina's powerplay. The only times he changed his lines were because of injuries.
Paul Maurice on the otherhand has been tinkering with his lineup almost every game. He benched Dennis Seidenberg after game one, then put him back in the lineup for game four. After the Canes played their best two periods of the series on Tuesday, he benched Anton Babchuk in game five. He has been inserting Frantisek Kaberle in the lineup, someone who has seen little or no action the entire second half of the season.
Now the coach says that he will be mixing and matching the lines during the course of the game. Sounds like a "two many men on the ice penalty" just waiting to happen. He has also been unable to solve Sutter's PK adjustment because the Hurricanes powerplay has been neutered in this series, (1 for 19).
One might wonder why the coach just didn't stick with the same lines and roster that he used during Carolina's recent winning streaks, the lineup that got him into the playoffs in the first place?
Is this line changing good coaching or an act of desperation? We will find out tomorrow night.
I will be attending the pregame skate tomorrow and will have a game preview up afterwards. Here is more audio from after today's practice.