Staff photo by Chris Seward
PITTSBURGH — He was the last player on the Mellon Arena ice this morning for the Carolina Hurricanes, and he could provide just the lift the Canes need for Game 2 against the Penguins.
Erik Cole was at the morning skate, showing little effects of the knee-on-knee hit he took in Game 1. The forward later told the coaches he felt fine, and Cole will be in the lineup tonight for Game 2.
"He's been a big player for us," forward Jussi Jokinen said. "He may not have scored that much but all the things he brings to the game is huge."
While Cole will play, Tuomo Ruutu will not. Ruutu suffered an ankle injury in Game 1, but the team does not believe it is a high-ankle sprain and there is hope Ruutu can return for Game 3 in Raleigh.
"Obviously this time of year we need all we can get," forward Scott Walker said.
While Canes coach Paul Maurice and the staff still are looking at line combinations, there's a good chance Cole could be on Rod Brind'Amour's line with Sergei Samsonov.
"He's a big fast forward and we can really use him," Walker said. "He looks like he's skating as good as ever but there's a difference between skating and getting hit and putting pressure on it."