Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/25/09 at 07:55 PM ET
On Thursday, coach Paul Maurice mysteriously replaced defenseman Anton Babchuk with Frantisek Kaberle for game five. It has been my opinion for some time now that Kaberle should have retired after the miserable 2006-07 season. I certainly didn’t want him in the lineup during this regular season, so my displeasure with that move goes without saying.
Due to a “lower body injury”, left wing Sergei Samsonov had to be scratched in favor of Dwight Helminen. I wasn’t too sure about that, and I wasn’t at all happy with the lack of ice time seen by Ryan Bayda. Bayda had been one of the hardest working players in games two through four, yet he only saw 4:14 of ice time. I’m not sure what Mo saw in practice that he didn’t like, but I wasn’t too thrilled with that change.
Samsonov hasn’t practiced and is ruled “hopeful” for Sunday. Matt Cullen also didn’t practice today, but he will play tomorrow. Paul Maurice has indicated that the lines and d-pairings will undergo another change.
Paul Branecky, official team blogger, is reporting that. Eric Staal will center the second line, flanked by Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose. The top line will be the same as Thursday. Matt Cullen will center Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole.
While I’m not convinced that that’s the best way to do the lines, the defensive pairings will undergo a change that I do like. Preliminarily, it looks like Babs will be back and Kaberle will be in the press box.
With seven healthy bodies, the team’s defensive unit has had a different look for nearly every game of the series, and tomorrow could be no different. Frantisek Kaberle was paired with Brett Carson of the “black ace” group, suggesting he may be the odd man out on the Canes’ blue line. Anton Babchuk, who sat out Game 5 as a healthy extra, was paired with Niclas Wallin today.
Meanwhile, the word on the street is that Jamie Langenbrunner will return to the lineup for the Devils.
I’m just a dumb blogger and Paul Maurice is the guy with more than ten years coaching experience in the NHL, but if I were in his shoes, I would make the lines look more like this:
Tuomo Ruutu / Eric Staal / Chad LaRose
Ray Whitney / Matt Cullen / Erik Cole
Ryan Bayda / Rod Brind’Amour / Scott Walker
Tim Conboy / Jussi Jokinen / Patrick Eaves
I like using Conboy there because he’s a good, tough two-way player who is actually converted to forward from being a defenseman. Like Dustin Byfuglien, but with considerably less raw talent. He’s gotten himself into trouble with some psychopathic behaviour at the AHL level, but at the NHL level, he’s never bitten anyone or pummeled a guy while he’s already down and out.
Whatever Carolina does with its lines, they’re going to have to get two things accomplished between now and Sunday night. They’re going to have to figure out how to make the power play work. They’ve been dreadful, at one for nineteen. Hand-in-hand with that will be objective number two. They need to put bodies in front of the net. Marty’s not going to get beat on a clean shot from the blue line unless he can’t see it. That means Babchuk can score from there, but everything else will be seen and stopped by Brodeur. Traffic=screens. Traffic=tips. Traffic=crazy pinball action. Traffic=make the Devils take penalties.
Is it Sunday 7:40 yet?
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.