Looking to shake up a team that’s last in the NHL with 20 points, Canes coach Bill Peters is making changes for Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Into the lineup will go forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn along with defenseman Jaccob Slavin, all called up Friday from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Out of the lineup will come forwards Kris Versteeg and Riley Nash.
Slavin replaces Ryan Murphy, who was reassigned Friday to the Checkers. Michal Jordan again will be a healthy extra.
“It’s my decision, for sure. We need a different look,” Peters said after the morning skate at Raleigh Center Ice. “We weren’t very happy with our effort the other night and we need to be better. So we’re making some lineup changes and make as many as we could — three guys in and three guys out.”
Asked if sitting Versteeg and Nash would send a message to the team, Peters said, “To the individual, to the team, to the organization, everybody. We need more, we need better. We need better and more consistent compete and we’re going to look for ways to find it and be solution-based.”
The Canes (8-13-4) have dropped three straight and four of five as they face the Canadiens (19-5-3), the Eastern Conference leaders. The Canes’ last game may have been their worst of the season as they were outskated and outplayed by the New Jersey Devils in a 5-1 beating.
Jordan Staal said he understood the need for the changes, saying, “There’s times to shake it up and I think now is one of them. Obviously the way we showed up last game, and our compete level, I think Coach and (management) decided they wanted more and they made the changes they felt were necessary.”
Against the Devils, the Canes’ mistakes were both physical and mental. While the Devils were quicker to the puck and won more battles, the Canes made careless errors that betrayed an apparent lack of concentration and focus.
“Our legs weren’t there but a lot of things weren’t there,” Staal said. “It was a frustrating effort and you don’t want to see those even though it happens at times. It’s not something we want to accept and we’re going to do our best to not have it happen again.”
Versteeg, obtained in a September trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, has played the first 25 games. He has two goals and 12 assists, and has gone 13 games without scoring.
Nash did not play in five games in October. His only goal came Oct. 24 against San Jose and he has gone the past 14 games without a point.
At the skate, Peters moved Eric Staal back to center, with McGinn and Elias Lindholm on the wings. Jordan Staal centered Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil, Victor Rask was at center with Jeff Skinner and Di Giuseppe, and Jay McClement centered Brad Malone and Chris Terry.
The defensive pairs were Ron Hainsey-Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles-Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin-Slavin.
Cam Ward will be the starting goalie, Peters said, after Eddie Lack got the start against New Jersey, allowing five goals on 27 shots.