Peter Laviolette has one apparent policy that will affect his lineup on Saturday. It's held true all season long so far.
Once you're out of the lineup, for any reason, you're out until somebody else gives up their spot (unless you're Danny Briere). It's happened to Dan Carcillo, Nik Zherdev, James van Riemsdyk, and hell, you can probably even throw Michael Leighton in there.
But this Saturday, as Jody Shelley returns from his two game suspension, that doesn't seem like such a lock. Why, you ask? Even when Shelley has been an obvious choice to sit as a healthy scratch for a game or two this season, Laviolette has not given him the rest. Shelley has held a spot all season long, and we know that the organization loves what he brings to the table. (Whether the fans agree with that is a different story... )
Will Shelley sit on Saturday? Laviolette's track record says yes, and that would probably be the right decision. His absence has forced the creation of the JVR - Jeff Carter - Zherdev line, which has been an obvious success. There's also no obvious choice to pull from the lineup in favor of Shelley.
Zherdev has solidified his spot, at least for now, thanks to a good stretch of games here. Carcillo hasn't been fantastic or anything, but he certainly hasn't hurt the team either. JVR's been a healthy scratch this season, but he's on fire right now and won't be going anywhere. The only other option would be to take Andreas Nodl and sit him in the press box, but despite a bit of a rough game against Pittsburgh, Nodl's still getting plenty of scoring chances and he's playing a lot of valuable minutes.
Do you really want to break up one of your top three lines to find room for Jody Shelley, anyway? The answer to that question is no. No you don't. And that's what it really comes down to here. Shelley will only play five minutes, six tops, if he plays on Saturday. With Carcillo and JVR and Nodl and Zherdev all in the lineup, you avoid having that guy who only plays a handful of minutes and you're able to roll four lines rather consistently.
Despite how much sense it seems to make to hold Shelley out on Saturday, though, you just get that feeling he'll be back in there. Not to sound too mean here because Shelley is a hell of a nice guy, but his old team will be in town this weekend, so losing a fight is probably on the agenda.