Canes coach Bill Peters made a number of line changes for the game Friday against Dallas.
After a 4-1 loss to the Stars, Peters may be reshuffling the lineup Saturday to face the Ottawa Senators. While the Canes did not have a morning skate, the lineup posted in the locker room had several switches, both on the lines and to the defensive pairs.
Victor Rask will center the top line and have Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg on his line. Jordan Staal, who scored the Canes’ only goal Friday, will center Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry, while Riley Nash will be at center with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm.
Forwards Jay McClement and Andrej Nestrasil were the only players skating Saturday, leading to the belief they might be scratched and Peters might dress seven defensemen for the game. But the lineup sheet had McClement at center with Brad Malone — replacing Nestrasil — and Brock McGinn.
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The tweaked defensive pairings had Justin Faulk with John-Michael Liles, Ron Hainsey with Brett Pesce and Michal Jordan with Ryan Murphy. That would make Noah Hanifin the extra defenseman.
Cam Ward will be the starting goalie. That pregame plan has not changed.
Both Peters and Senators coach Dave Cameron appeared edgy Saturday, with short, at times terse answers to media questions.
Asked about line changes, Peters said, “We’ll see. Find out at 7 o’clock.”
Was starting seven defensemen an option? “It’s an option but it won’t happen.”
How does Peters want his team playing Saturday? “Desperate.”
In truth, Peters seemed almost chatty compared to Cameron, who came off somewhat combative with the Ottawa media.
The Canes, 1-4 at home this season, have seven more games at PNC Arena this month. With a 5-8-0 record, they must find a way to win games and pick up points.
Peters said Thanksgiving is “basically the line in the sand” in terms of teams being in solid playoff contention or falling back and off the pace. After Thanksgiving, he said, it can take a “herculean effort” to get back in the chase.
“You’d rather not be in that predicament,” he said.
The Sens (7-4-2) have won the last two and four of the past five. Two of the four wins were on the road, against Detroit and Montreal.
“Very good team, very good in transition,” Peters said. “They’ll be dangerous, they’ll be a good test.”
Cameron, asked about the challenges the Canes might present, said simply, “They’re an NHL team.”