Tonight’s Senators/Penguins game will feature Cory Conacher in the pressbox instead of on the ice, which is nothing if not surprising. For one, coaches are known to be extremely superstitious, and rarely like to change their lineup after a win. Especially after a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s even less common to see a coach take out a guy who tied for the team lead in regular season points for a guy with seven games NHL experience. It’s less common, because on the surface it seems like a terrible idea, but hey, I’m not a Jack Adams nominee.
Sens coach Paul Maclean, from an NHL.com blog:
“It’s nothing particular,” MacLean said. “Somebody has to come out if we’re going to put somebody in. [Conacher] has played well for us and scored some big goals for us. He’s been out of the lineup in the past and gone back in and played well. You’re trying to find your best, most competitive team every night. You’re going to make changes. [Conacher] shouldn’t see this as anything more than a numbers game.”
I find this doubly bizarre considering how effective Conacher has been as a pest for the Sens. To me this makes the Sens easier to play, not harder.
The team’s captain, Daniel Alfresson, had this to say on whether it would be a tough moment for Mark Stone, the man going in for Conacher.
“No, it’s awesome,” Alfredsson said. “What an opportunity. I feel more for Conacher, who has to get out of the lineup. It’s a great chance for [Stone]; he’s just going to go in and play. I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on him. He knows what he can do — he’s got a quick stick and a quick release. If he can get the puck around the net, usually good things happen.”
Stone is a legitimately talented future NHLer. He racked up 38 points in 54 games for Binghamton of the American Hockey League this season as a 21-year-old rookie, coming off two 100+ point seasons in the Brandon of the WHL.
I get wanting to work him in, and I understand the Sens have sat Conacher once before in the playoffs (Game 2 versus Montreal, which they lost). But that doesn’t make it the right line-up for tonight.