The Canes' so-called "Big & Tall" line -- Chad LaRose, Pat Dwyer and Zach Boychuk -- is no more.
Now it's the "Big & Staal" line. Tonight against the Caps, Eric Staal will be centering LaRose and Boychuk, both 5-10 and high-energy guys.
Boychuk, 20, has been used on the third and fourth lines, and has three goals and five assists and is plus-3 in his 22 games with the big club. But the top line? That's something new and exciting.
"Yesterday in practice to see the jersey out lying with guys like Eric Staal and Chad LaRose, it's pretty amazing," Boychuk said today. "It's kind of what I've been working towards every since I've been up here.
"Everybody wants to be that top-line guy but you've got to work for it. Hopefully I can take advantage of it tonight."
Playing with Staal will mean facing off against some of Washington's best. But Boychuk already has seen some of the league's toughest defensemen and most highly skilled forwards.
"It's been a big learning experience for me," he said. "It's my first year pro and I've come a long way from Day One in training camp. I remember coming in here not being too sure if I was ready for the league yet.
"I remember in training camp making a few mistakes and I think the time down in Albany helped me grow as a player and a person. Now that I've been here full-time for the last two or three weeks I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and feeling I can have an impact. I feel like I'm starting to deserve to be here."
Playing the fourth line presented a challenge for Boychuk, who is a well-conditioned 185-pounder but hardly a bruiser.
"The guys are 6 feet 4 and 230 pounds on the fourth line," he said, smiling. "It's a big adjustment and I've had to play a lot more physical than I usually do. That's made me a better player, I think, getting that physical edge to my game."
Boychuk's instructions tonight from coach Paul Maurice are simple enough: play within the system and shoot the puck. Don't defer to Staal. Shoot the puck when the shot is there.
"He said not to change my game even playing with Eric Staal," Boychuk said.
Boychuk laughed when told the "Big & Tall" line had changed and the 6-4 Staal now was in the middle.
"Yeah," he said, "the Big & Tall line got really tall."