It was a day for special teams work and looking at line combinations as the Canes went through a 90-minute practice today at the RBC Center.
Sergei Samsonov, as expected, was not as practice as he rests a sprained neck. Jiri Tlusty is out of the yellow (noncontact) jersey and able to go full speed, and said after practice that he got through the workout well and there was no pain in his left knee or anything limiting his mobility.
Canes coach Paul Maurice said if Samsonov has not significantly improved by the end of the week, "There's no point to having him fly to Europe and watch hockey games if he's injured."
A decision on Samsonov's status and the final travel roster will be made Thursday, Maurice said. The Canes will leave for Europe after the Friday afternoon game against Atlanta at the RBC Center.
The Canes' first power play unit had Eric Staal, Patrick O'Sullivan and Brandon Sutter along with Anton Babchuk and Jamie McBain at the points. A second unit had Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu, with Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo at the points.
The lines are beginning to take form and followed what was written about in today's story in the print edition. O'Sullivan is on Staal's line with Erik Cole; Sutter was centering Drayson Bowman and Tuomo Ruutu; Jokinen had Skinner and LaRose as his wingers; and Pat Dwyer and Zac Dalpe were alternating as the fourth-line center with Tom Kostopoulos and Tlusty on the wings. Zach Boychuk had brief looks on Sutter's line and the fourth line.
The question was posed to Maurice about O'Sullivan, and whether the free-agent forward has played well enough to warrant being on the top line and first power-play unit, or simply was substituting for Samsonov while Samsonov was out.
“We’ll look at it,” Maurice said. “There’s no question he has the ability to do it. He’s been working hard. Now, we’re looking at chemistry, not really whether a guy is good enough to play there. It's does he fit there?
"Because we've got a lot of other options. Jokinen can go there. Skinner can go there. There are a lot of people who can go. Based on the camp and what we've seen we like what Patrick has done and we want to give him a chance.
"I liked what (Samsonov) was doing before he was injured. Would we move him off that line? I don't know the answer. But you're going to see, I think, even if we like what we see with O'Sullivan there, we'll probably try a couple of different people there so we can take a look at it."