Friday, September 27, 2013

The Proposed Forward Lines

With the foregone conclusions of camp playing out in real time, we have now had a chance to read about line combinations and see them in action. Therrien hasn't changed much, but a couple of additions and action on late season feedback has led to at least three lines that seem set in stone. There are things to like and dislike about each:

"First line"
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Briere

What to like:
  • Putting Briere with the team's most prolific shooter (Pacioretty) is a nice idea. 
  • Desharnais' return to form will be aided by the good linemates and the attention they draw away from him
  • Speed and guile
  • Experience on the wing (that was missed post Cole)

What to dislike:
  • Which big body is claiming all those Pacioretty rebounds/misses?
  • Established quantities in one basket
  • If Pacioretty slumps, who scores?
  • Difficulties ahead against big and experienced defenses

"Second line"
Bourque - Plekanec - Gionta

What to like:
  • Speed
  • Three players that can score
  • Quick hands around the net

    What to dislike:
      • Plekanec (best centre) is not with best wingers
      • Peripheral mindset
      • Their defensive aptitudes may force them out of scoring role
      • Second line scoring as best outlook

      Third line
      Galchenyuk - Eller - Gallagher

      What to like:
      • Speed
      • Exuberance
      • Confidence
      • A third line that will score and force opponents to think hard about facing the Habs
      • A line that will attack from the centre of the ice

      What to dislike:
      • Three players bound to have down periods trying to deal with the down periods of linemates as well as growing into productive NHLers
      • Puckhandlers (Galchenyuk and Eller) may eventually need more puck time of their own
      • Overcommitments up front may detract from their overall contribution to the team goal balance sheet

      Top nine

      What to like:
        • Interchangeable parts
        • Talent and experience

        What to dislike:
          • Most possible line combinations end up with similar plans for attack (i.e., peripheral)
          • Vulnerability to injury (i.e., 10th player is not a replacement part

          On the whole, the attack of the Habs is probably to be relied upon tocome pretty close to what the team accomplished last season (with a streaking Michael Ryder). If healthy this offensive lineup should provide healthy goal support during the regular season. As for the playoffs, one can only hope that Briere comes as advertised and that the third line of September is ready to be the first line in May.

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