Hurricanes Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour has been experimenting with the lines recently that has brought about a mix set of results. What does the optimal lineup look like?
The Carolina Hurricanes are living by the edge of their seats since the loss of Dougie Hamilton. They are now 5-3-1 since his injury to include the game he got hurt. The team also added Justin Williams to the roster since then as well. Those two moves have thrown the lineup and roster into chaos as Rod Brind’amour experiments with it every game like some sort of mad scientist.
Seriously, there has been a full new lineup each and every game from top to bottom. Guys are playing anywhere and everywhere and the Hurricanes are losing games they shouldn’t be and are now holding on to a playoff spot with nothing other than win differential. But where do we go from here now that they finally managed to stack more than one win a row this month?
For one there is a clear and cut first line of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen. In the last two games alone this line has six goals and seven assists for 13 points! That is insane and exactly what you want your first line on an NHL team to produce.
But after that there seems to be no clear cut establishment of lines. Rod seems insistent on playing Jordan Staal in the top six, regardless of the fact that he seems incapable of producing offensively (his defense and faceoff ability is another story). Justin Williams has moved up into the top nine while guys like Ryan Dzingel and Martin Necas seem to have fallen from grace.
Jordan Martinook has been taking a few games off and been healing. That has left an interesting set of lines that have seen guys like McGinn and Foegle play higher than they should.
Then there is the Defense.
Without Dougie Hamilton, Rod Brindamour is trying to get good defense by spreading the talent. Its not working. At all. This team was rated as the best defense in the league and is now sitting as the worst team in allowing high quality chances. That isn’t fair to the two netminders who are getting shelled with quality shots night in and night out.
So what should the lineup look like? What should the defensive pairings look like? Barring a trade, what does optimal look like for the Carolina Hurricanes?
Here is what I have in mind for the forward lines:
- Andrei Sveshnikov – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen
- Ryan Dzingel – Erik Haula – Martin Necas
- Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams
- Warren Foegele– Lucas Wallmark – Brock McGinn/ Jordan Martinook
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This would allow the Huala line that has had chemistry since the beginning of the season to establish themselves again with extra minutes. The Staal line has players who are along with his speed and know how to slow the game down where he can actually excel and perhaps start getting on the board again.
Foegele, Wallmark, and McGinn just haven’t fully earned top nine minutes just yet. But with Jordan Martinook playing on either the wing or center to give one or more of those kids breaks, they can learn from him and his leadership to grow and get better.
Now for the defensive pairs:
There is no reason to not pair up Slavin and Pesce. Those two should be getting the most minutes against the toughest lines. Their ability to shutdown opponents is legendary and can help stop that barrage of high quality chances.
Jake Gardiner’s offensive ability with Joel Edmundson’s shot blocking ability can make this pairing the a diet version of Slavin and Hamilton. TVR and Fleury together getting the least minutes can help limit the defensive issues they run into and allow them to earn their minutes once again.
To be fair, I understand why Rod would want to spread the talent around, but it is simply not helping.
Question for CC Readers: What would the ideal lineup look for you?