The Carolina Hurricanes had lightning in a bottle and let it go.
Having a top line of Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin opened them up to double-down on offensive production with a completely stacked line. Putting those three together created a top-heavy depth chart that allowed greater growth on the lower lines, including a fourth line prepared to get nasty on command.
After the morning skate Thursday afternoon, head coach Kirk Muller had replaced Skinner with Jiri Tlusty, recently back from his bout with appendicitis. Nobody is arguing that Tlusty is a bad man. He’s a powerhouse, and before his appendix went all bonkers on him he was rocking and rolling. Of course the logic here is to put Tlusty back up front, get him back in that zone and spread talent around by sticking Skinner with Elias Lindholm and Tuomo Ruutu on the third line to kick start those guys.
Problem being that logic is stupid.
Having a dream team line like Skinner-Staal-Semin could be a boon for Carolina’s offense. Skinner is playing completely out of his skull, these days and Semin suddenly remembered what clutch scoring felt like. Having Staal anchor a line with those two assault rifles is just good coaching. If Muller wanted to spread talent around, he should have put Tlusty on the third line and let the big guns up front come into their own.
Skinner-Staal-Semin only played one game together this season, and to break that line up before they were able to really gel as a wrecking crew is premature. Having Tlusty on that line is not a bad idea, but he’d be better suited for what Muller is trying to do with Skinner.
Another thing nobody is thinking about is Cam Ward having outlived his usefulness and what he could bring on the trade market. Getting a truly dynamic and overlooked right wing to put on the second line with Nathan Gerbe and Jordan Staal would allow a whole lot more flexibility to the depth chart.
The top line deserved a better chance, and breaking them up will more than likely be regretted.