RALEIGH, N.C. -- At this time of year, injuries often are a factor.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres are relatively healthy heading into the Eastern Conference final, but not totally so.
In Buffalo's case, centre Tim Connolly and defenceman Dmitri Kalinin both were injured in the previous series against the Ottawa Senators and are out indefinitely.
Coach Lindy Ruff was asked how he would compensate for their absence.
"I think we already have," he said. "We have put Derek Roy back in the middle.
"Derek is a very creative kid who can get the puck to people, a lot like Tim. We are back to using Derek on our power play.
"We have been good all year long in the absence of key personnel and having other players step in. In this case, it would be Derek's turn to step into a bigger role again."
But in most cases, it's easier to find a replacement for a forward than for a defenceman. After Kalinin went down, Ruff slotted in Rory Fitzpatrick, who will be in the lineup today.
"He's probably more physical and he has a good offensive side to him," Ruff said. "We have used him on the power play and he has been able to help us in a lot of areas."
On the Hurricanes' side, the only absentee is forward Erik Cole, who suffered a broken neck but has now discarded his brace and is skating on his own.
Even so, there is no expectation that his return is imminent.
NO RUSH TO RETURN
"This is not an injury that anybody wants to rush," Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette said.
"First and foremost, we're happy that he's going to be able to return to the game of life and spend it with his wife and kids.
"Secondly, if he plays in the future, whether it's next year, training camp, if he comes back and plays hockey for the Carolina Hurricanes, that would be terrific.
"The playoffs really are on the back burner. If he's able to do it, then we would certainly welcome him back because at the time of his injury, I thought he was one of the most dominating players in the league."