Having lost 10 out of their last 11 games this season, the New York Islanders look ready to make a major change as head coach Doug Weight plans to not only shake up their lines, but also put their two best players on the same lines for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. The move, which was actually started Friday during the second period would force John Tavares to the wing position with rookie Mathew Barzal moving next to him at the center position, according to Andrew Gross of Newsday. Jordan Eberle will take over at right wing.
“It doesn’t mean he’s going to play wing and it doesn’t mean he’s not a centerman,” Weight said of Tavares. “It’s an experiment. Moving forward it gives them some experience together. I’m excited to see it.”
One has to wonder whether the move is made to see whether Barzal and Tavares might make a good fit, which could be another incentive, if it works, to convince Tavares to stay and re-sign with the franchise at the end of the season. The team has struggled offensively recently and neither player has stood out recently. Tavares has just two goals in the team’s last 10 games, while Barzal has just three in that same span.
- While Corey Crawford is unlikely to return this year in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, the real test for the remainder of the year will be to determine who will end up being his backup next year. The team has both current goaltenders, Jean-Francois Berube and Anton Forsberg, under contract for one more season. According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the better of the two will likely assume the backup spot next year. Both are very similar as they both make the almost the same amount of money and are almost the same age. Lazerus believes that while neither goalie is perfect, Berube has been slightly more consistent than Lindholm, who has put up one of the worst save percentages in the league since Feb. 1 (.889) and has already been pulled six times this season.
- The Ottawa Senators got some good news as 19-year-old prospect goaltender Filip Gustavsson is heading for the AHL. According to the Ottawaw Citizen’s Ken Warren, Gustavsson, who the Senators acquired in the Derick Brassard trade from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, is expected to report to the Belleville Senators as his Lulea team in the Swedish Elite League was eliminated from the playoffs. He played 22 games in the SHL with a 2.07 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
- On the other hand, the Nashville Predators are still keeping a close eye on the KHL playoffs as they watch the play of Eeli Tolvanen of Jokerit. The 2017 first-rounder saw his team drop their second straight playoff game to CSKA and if they get swept, Tolvanen could be free to sign with the Predators for their playoff run as early as Tuesday.
- On a minor league note, the Iowa Wild of the AHL announced they signed Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain to an Amateur Tryout Agreement. The former captain was an nominee for the Hobey Baker Award and scored 53 goals for Bowling Green over the course of four seasons.