Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Samsonov Nears Return

Tuesday, 10.12.2010 / 1:40 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Samsonov Nears Return
Not many people outside of Philips Arena in Atlanta saw the play that resulted in Sergei Samsonov crashing headfirst into the boards, but it’s been summed up by those who did in one word: scary.

Paul Branecky
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In that non-televised exhibition game back on Sept. 25, doctors removed Samsonov from the ice with a stretcher and took him to a local hospital after a trip by the Thrashers’ Dustin Byfuglien. That he was able to fly home with the rest of the team that night raised hopes that his neck injury was not as serious as it appeared – hopes that have been confirmed now that he’s been listed as a game-day decision for Thursday’s contest in Ottawa.

“I felt the pain right away, so you never know,” recalled Samsonov, whose status will be officially determined after the team's next pregame skate.  “With the way it happened, the doctors and everybody were there right away and I was advised just to stay down and take every precaution. It turned out to be nothing serious.”

Tuesday’s practice at the RBC Center was just his second with the team since the injury and first while cleared for full contact. The team was wary that concussion symptoms may develop in the days and weeks after his injury, but it appears that the winger has escaped with little more than muscle stiffness.

“I feel pretty good, all things considered,” he said.

Other than missing the first two games of the season in Helsinki, Finland, it appears the worst part of his injury came when he was unable to perform in his home country of Russia during the Canes’ exhibition game against SKA St. Petersburg.

“It was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said, adding that his family ended up canceling travel plans to watch him play soon after the injury.

If Samsonov indeed proves healthy enough to play against the Senators, the biggest challenge for coach Paul Maurice will be finding a place to use him in the lineup. During Tuesday’s practice, Samsonov skated as the fourth member of Brandon Sutter’s line, where rookie Drayson Bowman currently occupies Samsonov’s preferred spot on the left wing.

“If you’re going well, you don’t want to break up the lines and you want to be careful about how you insert him in the lineup,” said Maurice. “At the same time, we believe in this player and believe that he helps us in our lineup. He is a right-handed shot on the power play, which is something that we’re looking for. We have a feeling of urgency to get him back in based on his play and what we think he can do for us.”

Despite Samsonov’s appearance on Sutter’s line at practice, Maurice hinted that he could actually see time on the top line with Eric Staal. That unit, which also features Erik Cole and Chad LaRose, is the only trio not to have registered a point during the successful premiere event in Finland.

”When you have a guy like that on your wing and you’re feeling strong and have a lot of good energy in your legs, you want a little creativity around you,” said Maurice. “Right now I think Staal has a lot of energy and a lot of jump, so I think we’re looking for a little creativity with him.”

With the possible exception of Jussi Jokinen’s line with Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu, Maurice said that line combinations should still be considered fluid at this early point in the season, freeing Samsonov to fit in on any other unit.

Other than Samsonov’s entry into the lineup, Maurice added that the Canes will consider calling up a defenseman either before or during the five-game road trip that begins in Ottawa. There are currently just six on the roster, which could put the team in a tough spot if they sustain an injury on the west coast.

Although Maurice cited the team’s struggles with moving the puck from their defensive end after each of the two games in Finland, he feels that the personnel to do so effectively is in place and that it would not necessarily have a bearing on which player would earn a recall. 

“I think that it’s something we’ll be able to improve as we go,” said Maurice. “It’s a concern in that I think there’s more offense for our team to be had if we can do it a little bit better, but it’s not like our faceoffs. Our back-end puck movement will come and it’s going to be good.”

Of the two blue liners assigned to AHL Charlotte on Saturday, Bobby Sanguinetti is considered to be more adept in that particular category.

Further elaborating on the faceoff reference, Maurice said that the coaching staff would now turn to video in addition to on-ice work in attempt to improve the team’s dismal showing in Finland. As a team, the Hurricanes won just 36.2 percent of their draws, ranking last in the NHL.

“They’re a concern, and they were at the start of camp,” said Maurice. “A positive spin for you is that we’ve done a very good job of defending the face offs that we’ve lost so much and are pretty good at our routes now.”




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62