In the 2012-13 season, the line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty broke out as one of the top in the league and was a huge component of any of the Carolina Hurricanes’ success during the season.
Staal and Semin rebounded from low-scoring seasons, while Tlusty was a surprise scoring 38 points in 48 games.
Now, the 2013-14 season is upon us and just like last season, the first line will be heavily relied on to contribute most of the offense. The question is will the line be able to produce as much as they did last season?
For the players, Staal is coming off a terrible knee injury suffered at the World Championships, but has been skating for the past couple of weeks and will definitely be ready for the start of the season.
However, it may take a little longer for Staal to get back to 100% health and could have a slow start to the season.
Semin and Tlusty returned to Russia and Czech Republic, respectively, this summer and took part in the World Championships and their nation’s Olympic camps over the summer, so obviously those two have been working out over the offseason.
Then there is also the problem of the added attention the line will receive next season. Other teams will recognize the line as the main contributors to the Canes offense and will use a lot of energy to stopping them.
On the other hand, Staal and Semin were big names last year and were likely to garner defensive attention all through last season and were still able to produce.
But a lot of the line’s production will come down to Tlusty. He scored 23 goals last season, the most on the Canes, and will need to find openings in the defense and the pucks on rebounds to get the line scoring like last season.
Producing as much as last season will not be simple for the trio, but it is not impossible either, which is a good thing because the Hurricanes will need the line at top form.