Let's Do Lines

October 7, 2010 - Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Going into the 2011/12 season the Devils have a ton of question marks.  After starting slow, catching fire, and running out of gas last season, most fans, no matter how optimistic, are probably nervous about where exactly the Devils fall.  They’re probably not as good as that 2nd half run, but they’re definitely not as bad as John MacLean had them playing.  They’re probably not as bad as they were at the end of the year either.  That team just ran out of gas after playing 3 months of “must win” games.  After the break, I’ll take a gander at what the Devils will look like as far as line combinations go.  It’s pure speculations, and part hope of what I’d like the Devils to look likeng into the 2011/12 season the Devils have a ton of question marks.  After starting slow, catching fire, and running out of gas last season, most fans, no matter how optimistic, are probably nervous about where exactly the Devils fall.  They’re probably not as good as that 2nd half run, but they’re definitely not as bad as John MacLean had them playing.  They’re probably not as bad as they were at the end of the year either.  That team just ran out of gas after playing 3 months of “must win” games.  After the break, I’ll take a gander at what the Devils will look like as far as line combinations go.  It’s pure speculations, and part hope of what I’d like the Devils to look like.


TOP LINE
Parise/Zajac/Kovalchuk

This is a controversial topic.  Arguments against range from “It only works in preseason and allows teams to concentrate on one line” to “Kovalchuk clearly doesn’t like playing on the right side.”  Here’s the thing, for the first 8 minutes of last season, it was amazing.  Two goals from Parise and Zajac, followed by Kovy hitting the post.  Problem was, the rest of the team was watching.  Dallas scored and got back into the game after Kovy didn’t bury his chance in the 1st period.  Then MacLean started changing his line combinations and panicking, and the game derailed.  The line didn’t last much longer than that.  I think you HAVE to take another shot with that line.  Too many teams would NOT be able to handle them at all.  They’d draw penalties, be tough in their own zone if they stick to a system, and score in bunches.  Plus, while Kovy likes playing the off-wing, and it makes him  more of a threat, I like the idea of trying to develop him on the right side.

SECOND LINE
Elias/Josefson/Tedenby

I like this line combo a lot.  It keeps the Swedes together, should get Elias going early, and provides a safety net if Kovy doesn’t work out at RW on the top line.  You can just drop him to the left side of the 2nd line with the Swedes and move Elias up or down.

THIRD AND FOURTH LINES
Zharkov/Zubrus/Clarkson
Pelley/Steckel/Palmieri

There’s a lot of bias in these last two combos.  I’m NOT a Palmieri guy.  I know lots of fans like him, and I think he has a ton of upside, but that’s just the things for me.  Upside.  He needs a lot of work in my opinion and I honestly have no idea where he fits.  That’s why I get to guess and the coaching staff makes these decisions.  On the outside looking in are intriguing guys like Henrique, Janssen, and Boulton.  I imagine Janssen and Boulton will see limited time, and find their way in for Ranger and Flyer games.  Henrique is an x-factor.  If he looks great in camp, he could easily find his way onto the 3rd or 4th line.  How many more chances can Zharkov and Pelley honestly get?  Zharkov is younger (23), but he’s shown signs of a guy who can stick, and signs that he absolutely doesn’t belong.

DEFENSE Defensive pairings are tough.  With Colin White getting bought out (LOVE IT!), it definitely thins out the defense a bit.  However, after Tallinder had a very strong 2nd half last year, the D should be ok.  Salvador is a question mark.  As is Taormina.  If he’s healthy, I like him.  I think going into camp, Larsson is already our 3rd best defenseman, and could be our best by the end of the year.  I’d like to see Urbom take another step, but he might still be a year away.  Others like Corrente, Fayne, and Fraser will probably find their way in and out of the lineup as needed.

Tallinder/Volchenkov
Greene/Larsson
Salvador/Taormina

GOALTENDING While goaltending is a no brainer, Moose earned some extra time this year.  And I do think it’s a good idea to give Marty a little rest.  I’d say an 80/20 split, 65 games to 17 games is fair for Marty this year.  If I had my way, I’d tell Marty he can only play one of the two back to back games when we play two days in a row.  Let him make the choice. That’s how I think things will fall this year for the Devils and their lines.  Going back to the top, I’d really like to see them go into the season with their 3 best players on the top line.  I think it could be fantastic and spell trouble for the entire league.  But, hockey isn’t a game of NHL11 on the PS3.  You can’t just let the computer pick your best lines and go with them.  Chemistry is huge, but I think they can have it.

Tags: Devils Kovalchuk Line Combinations Parise Zajac

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