The biggest change for the Moose Jaw Warriors heading into Game 1 is the insertion of Spencer Morse into the line-up. Morse is a big defenceman who only played one game with the Warriors since being called up from his midget AAA team. He would be a seventh defenceman.
The Warriors won’t have any big changes to the way they’ve lined up for the final week of the season up front. Brayden Point will slot in with Cam Braes and Justin Kirsch as he has since he’s been called up. That leaves Fioretti-Henry-Howden and Beach-Miller-Eberle as the other two lines. What they do Morse could be interesting. The six-foot-five defenceman could rotate in on the back end or could be spotted in a a bruising winger to try to lay the body on the Pats defence.
The other two forwards, Andrew Johnson and Eric Arnold, may not have a consistent third member of their line. I would expect someone from one of the other top three lines to spot in.
RW Andrew Rieder will return for Game 1 after missing 16 games with a shoulder injury. Rieder was ‘day-to-day’ for three weeks. He was returned to practice with limited contact a week ago, but didn’t play in either of the Pats final two games. He was full participant at practice this week.
Rieder is an important player for the Pats. He leads the team in hits and blocked shots and was a key member of the penalty kill.
It will be interesting to see if he returns to his spot beside Jordan Weal and Lane Scheidl on the Pats top line or if Chandler Stephenson will stay up there.
Matt Marantz and Morgan Klimchuk have been paired together, but haven’t had consistent winger lately. It would make sense that if Rieder’s back, either he or Stephenson would join Scheidl Marantz and Klimchuk.
Luke Fenske had played defence his whole life, but Pats head coach Pat Conacher moved him up to left wing on Mar. 3 and he has played there for the final eight games of the season.
Since Fenske moved to the wing from defence, he and Trent Oullette have played together often. They started with Dryden Hunt on the fourth line, but Hunt has been seeing time with both the Marantz and Dominik Volek lines.
They have only two natural forwards who are taller than six-foot. That’s Jack Rodewald and Lyndon Martell. Rodewald weighs 172 pounds and Martell has played in only 13 of the Pats last 24 games and didn’t play in any of their final three games. Both might be out Friday. Fenske (6-1, 209) gives them a little more grit up front. That being said players like Scheidl, Rieder and Marantz have some size and aren’t afraid to mix it up with anyone.
The Pats have consistently paired Brandon Underwood and Brandon Davidson as a shutdown pair and then used Colton Jobke with Artem Bidlevskii. Trade deadline acquisition Martin Marincin plays with everyone. He seems to be spotted in with any one of the top four and also plays with young Kyle Burroughs.
Nils Moser (concussion) is out. He missed the last three games, but had only played three games in February or March.