Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meet The First Line

They've taken matters into their own hands. If the coaches won't put them on a "scoring line", they're determined to just be the scoring line.

Prior to the season, all the talk was about which of the forwards would miss out on the top 6. One of the top line was consensus out, and the two others were regular candidates in the discussions.

Well they've gone and turned all that on its head by simply playing better than those whose places were deemed to be certain. And because of that, the past two games, Pacioretty-Desharnais-Kostitsyn has been the number one unit called by the coaches at ES and overall. The Captain and his unit have been bumped to third line minutes.

Why has it turned out this way? A very small sample and viewing tells us the following:

Max Pacioretty

Max Pacioretty seems to have the most to prove of anyone this year. At least that's the way he's carrying himself. He's been desperate to create his own space and putting up big effort in the offensive zone. He already leads the team in shots by a country mile (27 to the nearest 19) and has done to the same in chances too (13 to 11).

David Desharnais

He'd never be your choice to shutdown Toews or Getzlaf, but it's hard to deny the guy has a vision for what he'd like to see happen in the offensive zone. He's shifty and importantly has been the center that so far has broken away most from that frustrating behind the net first approach to offence. It's been borne out in the number of chances he's been on the ice for (38). Thus far he's been the beneficiary of Pacioretty's finishing a little bit, but it would be selling him short to not at least acknowledge the fact he's potentiated that.

Andrei Kostitsyn

It's a minor miracle he found his way onto this line given his usage in the first couple of games. He's been a key part of the line the past two games, critical in setting up two of the more spectacular goals. Funny when you watch the goal celebration, being the big brother on the line seems to make Andrei happy.

The unheralded fourth member of the line is the chemistry and understanding these players already seem to have. A shared wavelength on how goals can be made, even with tight defences. A good spot to keep them together to experiment further with how this partnership might go.

These three guys are looking good because they are putting effort into the things that matter. They may not be the first line for very many more games. But recognition is deserved for three guys who have at least allayed the fears of those who wondered if there'd be any goals outside Winnipeg after three games.

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