NHL games get underway in the afternoon again on Wednesday, with main slate lock coming at 2:30 p.m. ET. Every team on the slate has at least one game under its belt, but there’s still plenty of roster news and lineup changes to evaluate. Today we take another look at shifting line combinations and their potential impacts.
Conor Garland ($3,900), Lawson Crouse ($2,700)
The Coyotes gave a game back to the Predators on Tuesday and the series now stands at 1-1. It was a strange game for the Coyotes, who basically had nothing going offensively before scoring two quick goals in the final minute to end up with a 4-2 loss. Before those goals, the Coyotes had been struggling to find the back of the net, as their Game 1 win was backed by an early 4-1 cushion where they held on at the end and eventually prevailed 4-3. So there was a long stretch between the two games where offense was hard to come by, and they made some changes to their line combinations as a result.
The Coyotes first line remained intact throughout Game 2, with the notable change coming on the second line. Conor Garland was bumped up to play with Derek Stepan ($3,500) and Clayton Keller ($4,000), as Crouse was demoted down to the fourth line. Both of these lines actually scored a goal at the end of the game (Keller and Crouse) so it seems pretty sensible that the Coyotes would stick with their new combinations that produced their first two goals in over four periods of game action. Center Nick Schmaltz ($3,200) has also missed the first two games of this series, so if he plays tonight it could shake things up even further. This is worth keeping an eye on during warmups for the 2:30 p.m. E.T. start time.
Gabriel Landeskog ($6,100), Andre Burakovsky ($4,300)
The Avalanche struggled to score in their first Round Robin game this past Sunday against the St. Louis Blues, generating plenty of shots but having a hard time converting. As they often do, they switched up their lines in the third period to unite Nathan MacKinnon ($8,400), Mikko Rantanen ($6,000) and Gabriel Landeskog ($6,100), and they were able to produce two third period goals and defeat the Blues 2-1.
The dynamic trio may be broken up to start today’s game against the Dallas Stars, as they often are, but it’s a very common occurrence for them to be grouped back together if the Avalanche are struggling. Andre Burakovsky ($4,300) was on the wing with MacKinnon and Rantanen to start the last game and would be the player most impacted by switches, but he also was on the first power play unit with those same forwards. The bottom line is that the Avalanche have plenty of strong forwards and there are several different ways to go for line stacking purposes.
Max Domi ($3,900), Phillip Danault ($3,700)
Canadiens center Domi was uncertain to even make the trip with his teammates to Toronto for the restart, as he was considering sitting out due to increased health risk from having Type 1 Diabetes. Domi was a top-six forward for the Canadiens throughout the season, but was centering the fourth line in Game 1 after being limited in training camp. The Canadiens won the first game of the series against the Penguins, but after struggling for part of Game 2, they moved Danault off of the top line for the more dynamic Domi.
It remains to be seen if Domi will stick on the first line or if this was just a short term move to spark some offense, but it seems very clear that his days of playing on the fourth line are over. This is another situation to monitor in warmups, with puck drop scheduled for 8:00 p.m. E.T.
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