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With LaRose back, lines are reshuffled

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With Chad LaRose rejoining the Canes' lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the lines will have a different look.

Jussi Jokinen has been shifted back to center and will have LaRose on the right wing and Jeff Skinner on the left side. Skinner has been used at center in recent games with Jokinen on the wing.

"With LaRose coming back and 'Juice' being in the middle, I think it opens it up for both 'Skins' and LaRose to use their speed and go, and get some more speed up the wings," Canes coach Kirk Muller said today. "I have no problems with 'Skins' being at center. I think he's in the learning process and understanding what you've got to do at center. But I think it's more a switch of putting 'Juice' back there, with a little less speed, and letting those wingers with the speed get going."

Zach Boychuk will play on Eric Staal's line tonight, replacing Anthony Stewart, who was shifted to the fourth line with Tim Brent and Derek Joslin. Brandon Sutter's line has Drayson Bowman and Andreas Nodl on the wings.

"I've heard there's a little history, a little success together," Muller said of having Boychuk on Staal's line. "Staal is such a workhorse and can take so many minutes. I think you have to pop different guys in to play at his pace. It's hard for a lot of guys to play at the pace he does, at the tempo he does.

"You need a couple of extra guys to pop in. Boychuk can skate. .. We'll see if Boychuk can use that speed to open it up for (Staal)."

Patrick Dwyer, out the past two games with a lower-body injury, participated in today's pregame skate. Dwyer and Jerome Samson will be the scratches at forward tonight.

"I think it's so important, Paddy Dwyer getting back," Muller said. "He's been a real missing part of the team. Because of that we've had to adapt the top six."

LaRose has missed the past seven games with an upper-body injury.

"He's good, he's healthy and we need his energy," Muller said. "It's one more body that's important right now."

The Lightning topped the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime in Tampa last night. A mechanical issue with the team charter delayed the flight to Raleigh, the team arriving after 2 a.m.

Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 45th goal for the Bolts, who have won six of their last eight and trail eighth-place Winnipeg by four points.

"We've got to stop Stamkos. I mean, he's on fire," Muller said. "There's no secret Sutter's line will probably see a lot of him, but there's going to be more than one line that has to do the job. I've very comfortable with (Staal's) line going against them as well. Our D pairings are going to be important, our awareness of him."


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LaRose on the Second Line

   Maybe Muller, Maclean, Brind'Amour and Lewis can harness the very good parts of LaRose's game and have him avoid some of the plays that are troubling.  I much prefer LaRose on the fourth line; but given the hockey wisdom of Muller, MacLean, Brind'Amour, and Lewis, I defer to them.  With LaRose having a contract that expires next season and with the push from new prospects, these remaining games are quite important in establishing his role on the team in 2012-2013.


should be a scratch tonight




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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.