The Day In Between
posted Apr 24, 2006 at 04:46PM
Some excellent, excellent news. The Ottawa Sun reports that Wade Redden will be back in the line-up for the remaining games with Tampa. That is big medicine on a variety of levels. First it should help stiffen the resolve of our defence corps. If one wants to get into finger-pointing mode, then one has to realize that the poor play of our defencemen was the chief reason why we lost our last game. Getting them to play like they can is probably the highest priority for the Ottawa brain-trust. Our defence is the area where we are clearly superior and their play has to start reflecting that.
The other area is the powerplay which sorely missed his presence at times.
Another big one is just psychological. Just thinking of Redden coming back to be with the boys under these circumstances gets my hair tingling. His mere presence should be inspirational. The guys should be hitting the ice with missionary zeal in their souls and fire in their eyes!
Again just getting our defence corps up to snuff will do much to remedy the cause of our last defeat. The other big question is the reunification of the Big Line. Certainly the fact that Alfredson, our top scorer, registered zero shots has to be an eye-opener. Having our top player basically written out of the equation, is a favour we should not be offering to the black hat Lightening Bolts. Quite frankly I have been astonished at the lack of the reaction to splitting up the most productive line in hockey.
Can you imagine, if in San Jose, the coach took Cheecho away from Thornton and replaced him with a fourth line rookie who scored only 10 goals? - all for the sake of getting "balanced" scoring? Or because the coach is scared that other teams might find a way to stop them.
They would be stringing people up to the nearest telephone pole. But in Ottawa's media world, it has not even been a subject for discussion.
We may get away with keeping them apart against Tampa, again through sheer force of individual talent. It would get a lot dicier against a team like Buffalo and Philadelphia. The sooner they get put back together the sooner they can get back in sync.
Now the back six possibilities were discussed previously in detail. There is certainly enough raw material to put a good, if not very good and very fast third line together. But let's assume Murray puts Kelly back in Alfie's spot. That leaves the fourth line.
Personally nobody gets extra bonus points for just generating "energy". In the end you want, if possible, for the fourth line to have some capacity to score goals.
To me, that means Varada has to go. But who do you put in there?. Do you release Arnason from the doghouse? We have no idea of knowing where his head is at. Big risk. Schubert? I would vote yes, especially if it reunited the Kelly/ Vermette/ Schubert combination, a line that we know works very well.
But if not, I would go for Hamel. He shot the lights out in the AHL so obviously he has more skill than Varada. Hamel/ Vermette/ Neil would make for a line combination that has similar characteristics to Kelly/ Vermette/ Schubert, but here we do not have to risk our one depth defenceman.
In a tight series, every little bit helps.