In case you missed it, I posted my belated thoughts/recap on the Canes 4-3 loss to Detroit in the home opener on Saturday. You can find that HERE.
I have seen Twitter queries but no official explanation for Danny Biega’s recall and then return to Charlotte, but let me take my best guess at explaining it.
For anyone who is checking back into Canes hockey a bit late, the first domino to fall was James Wisniewski tearing his ACL in the Canes opener on Thursday night in Nashville. He will be out 6 months, and that dropped the Canes to 6 defensemen. Everyone else is currently healthy, but it is still risky to carry only 6 defensemen on the roster. If someone gets hurt in warm-ups or even the pregame skate, it is good to have another option handy. So the Canes recalled Danny Biega from Charlotte in time for Saturday’s game. As expected, he was a healthy scratch.
He was then returned to Charlotte which has everyone speculating about the next move. Many think that Biega’s return could signal that a trade is on the way. While that is definitely a possibility, I think the explanation is much simpler. The team is trying to balance having a safety option for the NHL with developing players and winning in Charlotte. The Checkers played Sunday in Iowa, and sure enough Danny Biega was in the lineup. Had he stayed in Raleigh, he would likely have gone another full week before seeing game action. Charlotte does not play again until next Friday. In addition, I am not sure the practice options in Raleigh are great either because Biega would be the extra/seventh defenseman likely minus a partner for drills and probably minus a partner unless someone took a day off.
While a trade is possible, I think more likely is that the Canes are actually just using the shuttle between Charlotte and Raleigh to get as much of the best of all things as possible. I think most likelyl is that the Canes recall 1 of the veteran AHL defenseman (Biega, Lowe, Rissanen) for Tuesday’s game. Since the Canes take to the road after that, I think there is a greater chance that the Canes keep 7 going forward into the road trip.
Checking in on the Canes leaders:
–Eric Staal. I really like his play so far. He is spending much more time in front of the net. At least some of it going against his natural tendency to move to the side when the shot is coming to go for a deflection instead of a pure screen. The challenge is whether he can/will stick to this in the face of minimal early success.
–Cam Ward. He has not been good enough. The other goalie has been better in both games thus far, and the Saturday loss stands out as 2 lost points in the standings. I get that Detroit pushed in the third period, but not at all to the tune of 4 goals against.
–Jordan Staal. It has only been 2 games, but he has had a disappointing start. He took the offensive zone high sticking penalty only 1 minute into the game that led to Nashville’s first goal on Thursday. Then he had a role in 2 of 4 of Detroit’s goals on Saturday. He needs to be better.
–Jeff Skinner. He is a scorer on a team that is arguably light on scoring, so 0 points in 2 games is obviously not great. But in terms of ‘what he is doing’ (not ‘how much is he producing’), I think had a decent game on Saturday. He was active, found the puck and looked to shoot whenever possible. My ongoing concern is the ‘all by myself’ version of this has a low 20s goal scoring and that he desperately needs a playmaker to get anywhere close to his full potential.
–Justin Faulk. After struggling out of gate last season and also in his rookie year, he looks to be entering the 2015-16 season ready to go. He has 2 points, but the real telling thing for me is watching him skate, especially with the puck. He is flying through the neutral zone right now which is characteristic of the fast and crisp Justin Faulk.
When you net out what could arguably be considered the Canes 5 best players, you get 2 thumbs up (Eric Staal, Justin Faulk), 2 thumbs down (Cam Ward, Jordan Staal) and a TBD (Jeff Skinner). And the TBD flips quickly to thumbs down if you want to measure only based on current productivity.
Practice Monday could be interesting. Both Riley Nash and Victor Rask left Saturday’s game, so their availability seems to be in question. Another loss has the potential of leading to more line shuffling. And there is a decent chance that another defenseman arrives either from Charlotte or possibly via another avenue.