Saturday night in Vancouver, Mike Knuble found himself on the fourth line. He was back there again Monday as coach Bruce Boudreau juggled the lines around following two straight losses.
“I guess it can mean a lot of things. We dropped two straight so guys move around,” Knuble said. “I don’t know if it’s part of a process or the way it is today.”
Boudreau would not say whether he was demoting Knuble by putting him alongside Mathieu Perreault, Jeff Halpern and the recently waived D.J. King and planned to keep his conversation with the 39-year-old right wing out of the media.
But Knuble said you “always” feel like it’s a kick in the teeth to be demoted like he was.
“You always do. I think we’re all competitive and we all want to play,” he said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a much more competitive season as far as how the lineup would stack up. I guess maybe if you’re here from the season before you can rest on your laurels a little bit for a little bit of time. But that’s not good enough moving forward. You’ve got to be playing better every night.”
Knuble has two goals and four assists this season, tied for fourth on the team in points. Boudreau, asked about how Knuble’s game has been so far, was not down on him.
“We’ve had him everywhere. He’s generally a slow starter. He’s got [six] points, I think, in nine games,” Boudreau said. “He’s not doing anything that we didn’t think he wasn’t going to do.
“Right now we’ve got four [top-nine] right wingers. And one of them has to play the left side. And we’ve tried Alex Semin, we’ve tried [Troy] Brouwer, we’ve tried Knuble. We’ve tried people over there. We’re just trying to get the right fits.”
Hence, for the time being, Knuble on the fourth line. Boudreau cautioned that his combinations could change.
“As a player, I guess all you do is prepare and you go out and try to play to the best of your abilities,” Knuble said. “Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of being with a consistent group and your team’s always in a state of change. You’ve got to deal with it.”