Sebastian Aho (20) and Teuvo Teravainen (86) appear to be reunited again Monday night for the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Washington Capitals.
He didn’t like it when coaches juggled lines incessantly when he was a player and Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t like bringing out the blender as a coach. He had to do it by necessity in the first two games of this playoff series, out of desperation in Game 1 and after Micheal Ferland’s ejection in Game 2.
Monday night, the Carolina Hurricanes coach will do it by choice.
With the Washington Capitals successfully shutting down the Hurricanes’ top forwards to take a 2-0 lead in the series, Brind’Amour shook things up in Monday morning’s skate before Game 3, reuniting Sebastian Aho with fellow Finn and friend Teuvo Teravainen and promoting Andrei Svechnikov to play with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams while demoting Ferland, who going into Monday night had scored only one goal since the Hurricanes decided not to trade him at the deadline.
Brind’Amour normally plays things pretty coy – and even had Aho and Teravainen taking line rushes together in pregame warmups Saturday afternoon, only to send Teravainen back out with Staal and Ferland – but by his standards he didn’t leave much doubt Monday morning about the way things would look Monday night.
“We’ll probably go with that maybe to start. We’ll see,” Brind’Amour said. “We may move them around. I don’t like shuffling around too much. I’ve already done it more than I like to. But we’ve had some circumstances the last couple games kind of led to that.”
The Hurricanes desperately need some kind of a spark to stay in the series. The Capitals have absolutely smothered Carolina’s top forwards, and even Aho’s goal Saturday – from behind the net – wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty. Williams and Teravainen in particular have struggled to have any kind of an impact, and Staal’s goal came on the power play.
The idea is that Staal and Williams will benefit from Svechnikov’s pace and skill, while putting Aho and Teravainen together is always a quick-fix option because of their personal chemistry, even if the Hurricanes are often a better team with them apart.
“I’ve played with all the guys probably at some point this year,” Aho said. “I like playing with everyone. Putting ‘Turbo’ on my line, it’s all good. Sometimes you need a spark. Hopefully we can create something. We’ve played so many games together.”
But there’s no question, given the circumstances and Brind’Amour’s typical reticence to do this kind of thing, that the shake-up smacks of desperation, with the Hurricanes’ top six forwards combining for two goals and an assist in the first two games.
“If we don’t get our best players playing their best we’re not going to win,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s pretty standard across the board. We need a little more out of them obviously – that’s obvious.”
FROM BEHIND Hurricanes captain Justin Williams reminded his teammates (and the media) Monday morning that losing two games on the road was not the end of the world. That said, the Hurricanes are aware they have no margin for error against the defending champs.
“We just got to hold serve with these two at home,” Williams said. “Eventually we’ll have to win one up there to win the series.”
MATCH SCRATCH Brind’Amour said the Hurricanes got an adequate response from the league for the controversial Ferland match penalty Saturday. The NHL officially rescinded the match penalty, removing the automatic suspension attached to it, and Ferland was expected to be in the lineup Monday night.
TAILWINDS Greg McKegg was expected to draw back into the lineup Monday for Saku Manaelanen, who had an impact on Carolina’s first goal Saturday but didn’t play much after that because of all the special teams and the Hurricanes’ deficit. … U.S. shootout specialist T.J. Oshie did not watch the American women’s controversial shootout victory over Finland at the World Championships on Sunday. “I was playing Mario Kart,” the Capitals forward said. Former Hurricanes trainer Pete Friesen served in the same role for the U.S. team. He has been a part of gold-medal teams for both the United States and Canada. … Calvin de Haan (“upper body”) practiced again Monday but remains out indefinitely.