The Carolina Hurricanes face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, leaving them just 9 games remaining on the regular season schedule. This time of year, the playoff teams are fine-tuning the lines and game plans heading into the second season of the NHL.
Of course, the health of the players is always managed if you have the luxury of depth and stability in the standings.
The Canes are in a fight for the Metro Division title but this time of year it is hard to not turn your focus to that beautiful, shiny cup. This team has won divisions and has made the playoffs before so the team and the fans are looking for the ultimate goal.
The pressure for Don Waddell to add a scoring forward at the NHL trade deadline was obvious but instead, he took the angle of strengthening the depth of this squad.
That decision took a hit when Andrei Svechnikov fell to an unfortunate season-ending injury.
However, this group is built on the team game and the depth is certainly available to be dangerous on every shift, every night.
Rod Brind’Amour is not a man that likes change and that can be seen in his line combinations throughout the season. There is something to be said with consistency for the players that show up every night knowing the line mates will be the same.
But with such a plethora of solid players comes a uniqueness in skill that needs to be mixed and matched to get the most out of it. This is very true when it comes to the Canes and their playoff hopes.
This team has players that can score and players that can defend. Each line seems to go through ups and downs but could always use a specific skillset to push them over the top.
Recently, the move of Jordan Martinook to the Sebastian Aho line has sparked something from the line and more specifically Aho. Another tweak here and there with the lines could spark someone else.
Players like Martin Necas(68 pts), Teuvo Teravainen(36 pts), and Seth Jarvis(33 pts) may just be one player changed on their line to bolster the potential and in the playoffs this change may have to come more often than Brind’Amour’s comfort level.
The scorer desired at the trade deadline may be on this roster and just needs to be ignited by playing with the right players in the right situation.
A player like Jack Drury seems to be playing with more confidence and could be a goal away from reaching that offensive potential.
Maybe he deserves a few shifts with more skilled forwards to make that happen.
The playoffs are always a chess match between the coaches but this post season will need Brind’Amour to use his strong depth to the maximum.