I am on record as confused and a bit annoyed at both process and results for Coach Bill Peters’ constant line shuffling. I have written up the details of that previously, so I will skip it today and just fast forward to evaluating what we expect to see tonight in Los Angeles (per Michael Smith’s game hub).
EStaal – Rask – Lindholm
I actually like Lindholm with EStaal though I prefer Eric Staal at center. He has been very good there thus far this season, so why move him. But given the limit of 1 Versteeg per lineup and my preference to use him elsewhere, I am okay with this line.
Gerbe – JStaal – McGinn
The combinations around Jordan Staal are a regular reminder of the lack of scoring depth at forward. I am fine with Gerbe/JStaal. I am okay with McGinn in the top 9 for now on a trial basis. But I am not a fan of taking a player who is 3 games deep in NHL experience and saying, “Here try something new” (playing on off side). Why add more unfamiliar stuff to sort out constantly for a player trying to adjust to the NHL, especially for a player like McGinn who you want to skate hard and mostly just play instinctively.
Skinner – Nestrasil – Versteeg
Nestrasil at center is straight from the category of ‘when it’s not working, try more random stuff’, but I am thrilled to see Skinner/Versteeg reunited. Separating this duo after a phenomenal preseason game that saw Skinner score 3 goals rates at the top of my list of things that make no sense. I would prefer not to see a player adjusting position-wise between them (would prefer Rask or Nash if he was available since he was part of original magic), but Nestrasil actually fits skill set-wise. One of the keys for this line is Nestrasil does not get cute and rather skates a hard line down the center of the ice to the net. If he actually gets a pass in the process that is a bonus, but the primary goal is to create a passing lane and room to maneuver in his wake for Skinner and Versteeg.
But beggars can’t be choosers and I got 1 of my 3 (+ a bonus) wishes from earlier this week which you can read about here. Couple that with a Canes win, and it will be a great Friday night as a Canes fan.
Malone – McClement – Terry
I thought this line did their job on Wednesday and has generally been pretty good, so I am fine with this.
I have said my Pe
sace on defensive personnel preferences.
But if I had to do 1 thing with the current set of 6 (Hainsey/Faulk, Liles/Jordan, Hanifin/Murphy), it would be to flip flop Liles and Jordan. Jordan has had a real tough time in that slot and roughly half of it has been massive discomfort handling the puck on his off side. With the Canes recent collection of lefties (Harrison, Gleason, Liles) on defense, Liles has spent some time on the right side. Plus as a veteran, he might adjust better. Finally and most simply, the current configuration simply is not working. In Wednesday’s game, Jordan mustered 2 cough ups early plus a third bad turnover at the offensive blue line that led directly to him taking an obstruction penalty. By that point with 4:16 remaining in the first period, Jordan had already collected enough ‘oopses’ to call it a rough game for him.
Regardless, the Canes go for 2 in a row tonight which is a good thing.