The Carolina Hurricanes had a disappointing preseason in many respects. One major problem was that they could not get much offense generated and ended up being outshot by an average of 10 shots per game.
Even GM Jim Rutherford was quoted this week as saying that the team was slow in developing chemistry. So the coaching staff responded with a major line shuffle this week.
Let's face it, lines on any hockey team can be fluid entities. Sometimes they are changed period by period or even shift by shift, and it appears that might be the case now with the Hurricanes, at least to start the season.
Last year's successful line combo of Jokinen, Ruutu, and Skinner has been dismantled, Zac Dalpe has been shuffled down to the fourth line, and Patrick Dwyer and Chad LaRose have both been promoted from where they ended up last season. (LaRose missed much of the preseason because of an injury.)
What do you think about the most recent lines skating in practice today, which appear to be the lines of choice for opening night?
- Skinner, Staal, Ruutu
- Tlusty, Jokinen, LaRose
- Dwyer, Sutter, Ponikarovsky
- Dalpe, Brent, Stewart
Numbers 15, 53, and 12 should get the job done, but if we look at where the goals came from last season on a player by player basis, one might wonder where the other scoring will come from now. What if the opposition can stop the first line?
Here are last season's scoring totals, regarding each line as they are constructed above:
- 83 goals, 196 points
- 41 goals, 95 points
- 27 goals, 62 points
- 25 goals, 63 points
Will those lines work? We will find out tomorrow night, but one thing is certain. If they don't work, look for more changes to come sooner rather than later. Paul Maurice admitted as much during today's post practice interview. The question is, how long will he give them to develop chemistry?
The defensive pairings at practice also gave some indication who would be starting tomorrow night.
- Pitkanen, Gleason
- Kaberle, Faulk
- Allen, Harrison
McBain, Joslin, and Murphy look to be on the sidelines, at least for now, although Maurice hinted that there could be changes for the game in Washington on Saturday night. We will see.
It will be interesting to see how the new Kaberle and Faulk combination does.
More about this in our game preview tomorrow.