Two days after a 5-1 defeat in their season opener against Florida, the ‘Canes are shuffling the deck.
That was the word out of Carolina on Monday as head coach Kirk Muller altered his lines in advance of Tuesday’s home opener against Tampa Bay.
Drayson Bowman was moved from the fourth to first line — skating with Eric Staal and Alex Semin — and Jeff Skinner was dropped from the second line (with Jordan Staal and Zac Dalpe) to the third (with Jussi Jokinen and Pat Dwyer.)
Muller insisted the changes weren’t made “in a panic way,” but Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer reports that Skinner might have been put on notice.
If there was any message being sent with the changes, it appeared to be with Skinner, who was inconsistent in his play in the opener and took a hooking penalty in the offensive zone that resulted in a 5-on-3 power-play score for Florida.
Muller and Skinner had a fairly lengthy chat on the ice after Monday’s practice.
Muller also loaded up his top power play unit after the ‘Canes went 0-for-6 with the man advantage against the Panthers. The Staals, Semin, Skinner and Joni Pitkanen were put together in what looks like — on paper, anyway — a pretty formidable offensive group.
“We thought we’d throw the five big guys out there together,” Muller said. “We’ll see how good they do together. Once we get rolling you’re not going to see a lot of changes the way it is now.
“But it’s the games where you have to tweak things until you feel comfortable.”
In other notes, Cam Ward will get the start in goal on Tuesday and Dalpe (illness) might not be available. If Dalpe can’t go, it looks like Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose will play on the wings next to Jordan Staal.