11-20-2003, 06:08 AM
Looks like Wesley is sitting out the road trip and is doubtful for Sunday as well after that hard, but clean, hit by Brashear. He'll be missed against Ottawa's skilled forwards.
O'Neill and Vrbata are swapping tonight. I like this switch. Hopefully it will give one of or both of these lines a spark. It can't hurt because these two can't score any less than they are now.
11-20-2003, 06:30 AM
That hit against Wesley will probably be coming to an NHL highlight reel in the near future, that was a perfectly clean hit.
O'Neill, god bless him, has been trying to ween on his dependancy to Ron Francis but it certainly hasn't been working. These two just seem to play well for each other and I think Maurice was just trying to make the transition to Staal not so difficult next year by just giving him time with him now to get aquainted. My only beef with O'Neill is that he has the opposite of a Sniper's mentality. He'll take the shots that he's pretty sure nobody else is available to shoot and the ones that he's supposed to shoot he doesn't because he's looking for the nice crisp pass to another stonehanded defenseman or not as talented forward. His shot totals haven't suffered, but i'm sure his quality chances have. The other game I saw him turn his back completely around on the powerplay when there was nobody between himself and the goaltender. Oh well, since he knows Ronnie is the established playmaker on the line I guess it gives him more liberty in his mind to take the shot, I guess thats why he plays so wel with Ronnie, he knows he's not the playmaker on the line.
I also like Vrbata getting lots of icetime with Staal and Vasicek if that is in fact what they're going to do. Vrbata will benefit nicely from having a playmaker who can set him up like Staal can. Vrbata also LOVES to work with fellow countryman Josef Vasicek. These two have been looking to play together all season and I think the off-ice chemistry will appear on the ice as well with the more time these two see together. And thank god that Maurice has finally decided to take Vrbata off the point so he can actually use that wrist shot of his to make some things happen. It was an overdue move, but i'm glad it's done now. I'd expect some fireworks out of these two lines tonight.
11-20-2003, 09:23 AM
I hope this line swapping works :) And I hope the PP continues to improve ;)
11-21-2003, 06:13 AM
So far, not so good ... Francis' line was horrible last night and nobody did much of anyhting good in a 6-1 loss to the Sens. Verb does look more comfortable with Staal and Joe ... but that's about the sum of the bright spots from that debacle.