Thomas
DeChastelain
Memorial Archives

Fine-Tuning The Line-ups
posted Mar 3, 2006 at 07:36PM

I will just give the short version. Explanations and detailed rationale will have to wait for a future date. The purpose for this is to get maximum traction from our available talent in order to beat the good teams we will eventually have to play.

First we need to bring up Hamel (or Bochenski) and put him on the wing in Neil's place. He hasn't scored in an eon and there is a reason for that. He simply does not fit. Neil goes back to playing with Smolinski and Varada. Eaves goes back to play with Vermette and Kelley. Vermette plays center.

So we have the following

Heatley-Spezza-Alfredson
Schaeffer-Fisher-Hamel
Varada-Smolinski-Neil
Kelly-Vermette-Eaves

Some notes: Neil has scored most of his points playing with Smolinski. He does not have the skill set/style/speed to play with Schaeffer and Fisher. Putting him back with Smoke would better suit his style of play. Remember the Philly game and the way he and Varada combined for a key goal? We would get more of the same and he wouldn't feel so obligated to compensate for his lack of scoring by getting into fights.

I like Hamel over Bochenski because he has more NHL experience, and he is a more proven two way player. I am not religious over that choice. One of the two.

The Kid Line would just shock people. Vermette and Eaves would break out as legitimate scoring threats every time they were on the ice. They would each have a good chance of catching up to Fisher in the team goal scoring race.
(As a wild prediction let me say that I think Vermette will start burying his chances and catch up to Fisher no matter what - even if he has to play with McGrattan again)

Hey, it's just a blog.

Most importantly we now would have three lines that the coach could just "lock in" and let play in preparation for the play-offs. I feel it is essential that we enter the playoffs with the lines being thoroughly familiar with each other. The pressure of the play-offs is rarely a good time for new line-mates to work out the bugs.

When Havlat returns he simply gets plugged into Hamel's spot and we are good to go. Depending on how Hamel is playing will determine whether he should take Kelly's spot. Kelly is fine but not deserving of all the adulation that has been thrown his way. Schubert becomes the depth defenceman Muckler no longer has to trade for. Hamel, Bochenski and Martins become our primary depth forwards. McGrattan is there in case things devolve to the Saturday Night Wrestling level.

What if we get another forward in a trade-line deal? That is fine as long as he can score. A "grit" forward that can fight but has no offensive skills will just be a midget version of McGrattan. Getting someone like a Barnaby would be a huge step backwards.

Basically the only thing that would make us better is a Grade "A" centerman. Another Weight. (I don't want to look up "Olli Jokinen's" spelling but someone of that caliber). He must be a creative, intuitive player that can play with Havlat and Schaeffer. It is a tall order.

Well actually I don't think there will be any need for detailed explanation/rationale. That about covers it.

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