But it looks as if Carter's on his way back.
Sestito played just 5:18 of the Devils 3-1 loss to Winnipeg Thursday night.
As we talked about earlier this morning, Sestito was the likely odd man out once Carter was ready to return. The question now is how Carter's presence affects Pete DeBoer's new line combinations. Will coach Pete DeBoer want to restore the Gionta-Carter-Bernier troika that's been so effective since last season? That would be my guess, but that creates a whole other set of issues. If you play Gionta and Carter together, then there's no one to center the fourth line -- assuming, of course, that DeBoer wants to keep the Kovy-Loktionov duo together. If that's the case, then it comes down to an "odd man out" role with Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac, except neither of those guys would center the fourth line except as punishment or coming off injury. Soooo... yeah. If DeBoer wants to keep that third line together, he basically has to break up his top unit and demote Loktionov back to the fourth line despite the fact that Loktionov might be the Devils' best offensive weapon not named Kovalchuk at the moment. Or he could have Carter center that fourth line in between a Matteau/Barch combo on the left and Butler on the right and keep Gionta as the third-line center with Ponikarovsky on Gionta's wing. But then of course that would break up DeBoer's trusted energy line, keep Henrique playing out of position and limit Carter to less than 1o minutes a night.
Ah, the joys of coaching in the NHL. For the record, DeBoer said he and the coaching staff would talk about the lineup tonight, so we should get a good idea of what the plan is when he addresses the media at 1 p.m. Saturday. Until then, try to keep your head from spinning off contemplating all the different combinations and hypotheticals.