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Tweetmail No. 39: Wingers, Lines and Favorites

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Smith

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Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

Eric Staal played well on the wing and Victor Rask looked good in the center. Do you think Coach Peters keeps that line together? – Kevin B. (@JamminJoeyB)

In Monday night’s game versus Calgary, head coach Bill Peters and his staff made a number of line adjustments, including slotting Jay McClement between Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin and moving Eric Staal to the wing with Victor Rask in the middle.

The juggling paid off, as the Hurricanes rode the momentum from a late first period tally from Zach Boychuk to capture a 4-1 victory.

“We talk all the time, during the 14, 10 and six timeouts and in between periods,” Peters said after the game. “I didn’t like our start. I thought we got outshot quite badly in the first, and we needed something.”

And from the sounds of it, Staal on the wing might be something the Canes explore for more than just a couple of periods.

In practice on Wednesday, Rask again centered Staal with Jiri Tlusty on the opposite wing.

“We put Staalsy on the wing, and that’s something I think we might leave for a little while,” Peters said after Monday’s game. “Find a centerman for him that he’s comfortable with and let him go up and down the wing to shoot pucks and go to the net hard.”

While perhaps unconventional, playing Staal on the wing is not unfamiliar; he’s skated at that position in spurts during his 11-year career with the Hurricanes, and he won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics playing on Sidney Crosby’s left wing.

So to make a long answer short, yes, I could see that line – or at least the Staal-at-wing aspect – remaining constant for the time being.

Of course, I can say that now, but the situation on Thursday or Saturday or Sunday could be completely different. Lines tend to become a bit fluid once the puck drops and match-ups and tweaks become an integral aspect of the chess match between the two benches.

Looking into your crystal ball, what happens to the lines when Jordan Staal returns? – Doug A. (@dabrams2021)

A bit early to be entertaining this question, but since we already discussed Eric on the wing, let’s run with it. (Also, if I had a crystal ball, I’d play the lottery tonight, for sure.)

It would be easy to say the Canes would look something like E. Staal, J. Staal, Nash and McClement down the middle when Jordan returns, and who knows? That might be the case.

But what about Victor Rask, who has proven himself more than capable of centering an NHL line?

Let’s play a little more with the idea of Staal on the wing. Peters has said before that he’d like to look at the Staal brothers together on a line, so could we see an E. Staal-J. Staal-Semin trio? Or E. Staal-J.Staal-Lindholm? Either would be pretty formidable, and that would leave Nash, Rask and McClement centering the remaining three lines, a familiar look for the team here in November.

“We have all these grand plans about what our lines are going to look like at some point, and we’re going to get to them sooner rather than later,” Peters said after Monday’s game.

One thing is certain: with the way the team has melded together in the last few weeks, it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities of what could happen when Jordan Staal draws back into the lineup.

Favorite Canes game you’ve covered since you started this job? – Andrew S. (@aschnitt53)

I started full-time with the Hurricanes in September 2011, so that’s 212 regular-season games I’ve seen coming into this season. Of course, this year brings a new experience and a new vantage point in covering each of the team’s 82 games in person.

Of those 212 games, one sticks out: the New Year’s Eve game against Montreal a year ago. The first two periods weren’t exactly memorable, but the last 20 minutes plus overtime was a romping good time. The Canes fought back from a three-goal deficit, which had the building jumping, and then Alexander Semin capped it off with a snipe in overtime to win the game, 5-4.

I’m sure there were other games along the way, but a comeback in a situation like that was just straight up fun. My hope is that this season, there is a moment or moments that top that.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to know how amazingly amazing INTERSTELLAR was, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.



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