Following an ugly home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, Coach Bill Peters made changes for Saturday’s game against Columbus and has made changes again coming out of that game which was a 3-2 loss.
Who is in? Who is out? Who is where?
For Saturday, Peters sat Teuvo Teravainen, Noah Hanifin and Matt Tennyson in favor of Ty Rattie, Klas Dahlbeck and Ryan Murphy. He also finally rested Cam Ward after 21 consecutive starts in favor of Michael Leighton.
Today Mike Maniscalco from the Carolina Hurricanes broadcast team at Fox Sports reported that the morning skate lines and defense pairings were:
Skinner/Rask/Rattie (same as Saturday)
Aho/Staal/Lindholm (all 3 players played Saturday, but Aho on LW is change from McGinn)
McGinn/Ryan/Stempniak (again all 3 players played Saturday, the swap is the LWs on the 2nd and 3rd lines)
Nordstrom/Teravainen/Stalberg (Teravainen draws back into the lineup in the spot usually occupied by Jay McClement who is out)
Hanifin/Tennyson (after 1 game out of the lineup and a tough night specifically for Murphy, both are back in replacing Dahlbeck/Murphy)
Ward back in net
Thoughts on the changes
First, I already voted in my game preview for Saturday that I liked the idea of Peters shaking things up after a lackluster game on Friday that was poor in terms of level of play, resiliency/intensity level after getting down and also composure.
Here are my quick thoughts on the changes:
* Ty Rattie: He was very good on Saturday. He drew 2 penalties and also made a strong play on the puck to win it on the boards in the defensive zone to spring Faulk for his rush and goal. I wrote after the game that I would be surprised if he was not in the lineup. He earned the right to play again, and not playing him would have made the “earn your ice time” motto BS at least in this small instance.
* Dahlbeck/Murphy out and Hanifin/Tennyson back in: I also strongly expected Murphy to be out of the lineup again after a really rough outing on Saturday that saw him beat off the boards on the first Jackets’ goal, slightly out of position on the second goal and also shaky in a couple other situations. I was torn on Dahlbeck staying in or being pulled back out. I thought he was okay, not great. I voted awhile back to give a game to Dahlbeck (on his natural side) with Tennyson and still think that could make sense, but I am also fine with Hanifin/Tennyson re-entering the lineup after a game to think about things in the press box. Hanifin has generally been exempt from being pulled from the lineup after tough nights, so it will be especially interesting to see how he reacts.
* Teuvo Teravainen: If Peters was going to bench a player or 2 after Friday’s poor outing, Teravainen definitely staked a strong claim to being 1 of those players with 2 bad turnovers that led directly to goals against while the game was still being decided. But I like getting him right back in the lineup. He has generally been a good player. His slot in McClement’s spot as the fourth line center is interesting. I think it makes sense to get him back in the lineup with the opportunity to play his way back up the depth chart.
* Jay McClement out: I do not view McClement being out as a demotion but rather just a necessity to make room for Teravainen. That said, I do think a move like this could be a foreshadowing of what is to come in 2017-18 when the Hurricanes add even more depth of the scoring-capable variety and possibly shift fully away from the old school fourth/checking line.
* Cam Ward: To be clear, his day off on Saturday was simply that. He had played 21 straight which was already too many, so his spot on the bench was actually just overdue in the normal scheme of goalie usage that Peters had strayed from. That said, more than anything, I am anxious to see how Ward responds today. He has struggled of late. Does 2 days off provide what he needs in terms of a physical and/or mental rest? Maybe more significantly, does the simple fact that Peters FINALLY reached to the backup relieve a burden on Ward who was being a good soldier trotting out game after game but maybe was hitting a wall because of it? More so even than the 2 points at stake on Monday night, I am anxious to see how Ward looks.
* Brock McGinn and Sebastian Aho swap spots: I wrote recently that Peters might want to/need to get back to building a solid defensive line around Staal that he can count on for 20ish minutes per night in all situations to solidify things. Aho is not what you picture in terms of checking line forward (which is a good thing), but I think it is possible that his heady positional/situational play actually works and provides offense to boot. On a bit of a tangent, I am also curious why Aho has not been given a look on the right side of Skinner/Rask. That line is the purest scoring line, and Aho is arguably the purest offensive player who has not seen time with them who is capable of playing right wing (though he has been almost exclusively used on the left side with the Hurricanes).
Best case scenario tonight
In order, here is what I would hope for tonight:
1) Above all else, a solid start (regardless of win/loss outcome) by Cam Ward would be very reassuring.
2) I get the need for patience with Noah Hanifin‘s development, but at the same time it not an absolute requirement that his development be gradual. Is there a chance that something like this sparks Hanifin to take a couple quick steps forward in his development ahead of any more gradual schedule?
3) Ditto from Teuvo Teravainen. He is at a different stage of development than Noah Hanifin who is younger, but I would hope for a similar spirited effort from Teravainen after a bad game on Friday followed by a night off on Saturday.
4) From all of the players back in the lineup, my hope is that they play with a higher intensity level and edge that shows they want to keep their ice time and that this intensity is contagious across the entire lineup.