Hockey tends to give names to lines: the Triple Crown Line, the Crash Line, the Trio Grande, Hull and Oates, Legion Of Doom and so many more.
While the Carolina Hurricanes have only The BBC Line to their historical credit, another one could be in the works. Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner have become the go-to first line for the Hurricanes, and it’s got potential.
Staal is only just returning from a minor lower-body injury, and it was only the logical decision to place him with these two. While Skinner’s offensive exploits have become well known, it’s not to take away from Semin’s resurgence. There were times when it was questionable as to whether or not Semin was going to work out, but those days seems to be over. Not only has he improved, but he has done so in the clutch. Performing in the clutch is of importance too high to measure.
The thing with this line is that they could fit like rifle components. While a lot of lines have ‘the shooting guys’ and ‘the one who passes to the shooting guys’, what works with Skinner-Staal-Semin is that they each have different attributes. Staal is a brute force kind of grinder, Skinner is all razzle-dazzle, and Semin is becoming the ‘did that just happen?’ clutch shooter. There’s no reason why these three guys can’t make the Metropolitan Division their personal butlers.
Facing the Calgary Flames on Monday will prove to be a fantastic litmus test. Calgary has just the type of fluid style that will show if this top line can adapt and overcome. How these guys have performed in the past is neither here nor there. This is post-streak hockey, and how these guys react to Calgary could determine how things could play out for the rest of the season.
While it’s not the life-or-death Rancor battle some might make it out to be, using the Calgary game as a yardstick will serve to show if this line needs to stay a thing, or if Kirk Muller needs to think about going another way.