Maurice pushes the right buttons in Game 4
Posted April 22, 2009
Paul Maurice has made a number of decisions in his coaching career, but he’d probably be hard-pressed to find two that worked out as well as the pair he made on the playoff stage Tuesday night.
The first involved the activation of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and subsequent sitting of Frantisek Kaberle, who played in the previous two games of the series, as a healthy scratch.
Until that point, the two players had similar 2009 postseason resumes.
Seidenberg played just over 18 minutes in game one before sitting down for games two and three, while Kaberle was on the ice a total of just under 32 minutes in the last two contests combined.
Before game four of the Canes’ first-round series with the Devils, however, Maurice decided to go with Seidenberg, mainly because he felt the 6-foot-1 German gave Carolina a faster blue-liner to help contend with the Devils’ forecheck.
“I think sometimes when you sit a guy, you take the pressure off of him a little,” Maurice said after Tuesday night’s win. “When he comes back in, he’s got nothing to lose.”
Apparently, there was plenty to gain.
With timing that Maurice couldn’t have orchestrated any better himself if he wanted to, Seidenberg registered his first two assists, and points, of the 2009 playoffs in game four - one on Eric Staal’s goal to open the evening’s scoring, and the other on Jussi Jokinen’s game-winner with .2 seconds left on the clock in regulation.
And that brings us to brilliant move number two – sending Jokinen out for that final shift.
Although listed as a left wing, Jokinen has spent much of his time, including most of Tuesday's game, centering a line with Scott Walker and Ryan Bayda.
With the game on the line, however, he found himself playing with Sergei Samsonov and Rod Brind’Amour – a spot normally occupied by Patrick Eaves.
“He went out on the wing…it was just his time,” Maurice said with a smile. “I put him in somebody’s place, so obviously you make an assessment on the bench at the end – I thought that Jussi played very, very well again tonight. I thought he gave us a chance anyway, but he’s also a very smart, very safe player to put on at that point in the game.”
Before Tuesday night, it would have been perfectly reasonable to ask "who in their right mind would think the game-winner would come from the combination of Dennis Seidenberg and Jussi Jokinen?"
Apparently, there was at least one person out there.