In previous games, Bowman and Dvorak were reaching right around eight minutes. Although three extra minutes does not seem like much, it’s a variance on regular games and gives other players the time to rest.
Muller’s decision to use all four lines paid off as Malhotra played 15 minutes and scored the game-winner in overtime. In his two previous games, the 33-year-old played 11 and eight minutes, respectively.
Depth is just as important as having star players in the lineup in today’s NHL. Just look at the Blackhawks, last year’s Stanley Cup champs. They used players like Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik on lower lines that could play over 10 minutes a game and give the other star players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
This is also a problem the Hurricanes had last year. With Tim Brent and Chad LaRose in the bottom six/fourth line, Muller could not use the two in as many minutes simply because they could not be counted on to create scoring chances.
Last night’s game showed that the depth players could be counted on to log plenty of minutes, create scoring opportunities and play defensively. It hasn’t always shown this season, but this game may be a turning point for those players and the Hurricanes will need that depth scoring as the season carries on.