Thread: Line Combos: The Cluttered Bottom Six
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02-23-2009, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Lucius View Post
When healthy (save Lang), I predict:

Kostitsyn Sr - Plekanec - Kovalev
D'Agostini - Koivu - Tanguay
Kostitsyn Jr - Higgins - Pacioretty
Latendresse - Lapierre - Kostopolous

Begin Laraque Chipchura

Not quite exact, but you get the point. Sergei will be back, I am sure of it. Begin seems like he's done. Chips seems like he needs more pepper and Laraque will sub in for Kostitsyn or one of the kids when necessary.

The big thing is that I think we should move Higgins to centre while Lang is out, unless we get someone new.
I agree that Chips is not ready for full-time 4th line duty. So, for me the question is: do we return to the "three offensive lines" plan of earlier this season, with 6 "skilled wingers", dropping Latendresse to the fourth line, or do we add a bit of sandpaper to the mix, without sacrificing too much offence?

For now, I opt for grit. We need some guys who will bang up front to win the puck, and who will skate North-South. The obvious "skill" guy to leave out is the one currently in Hamilton trying to get his head back together. I say we leave him there until he dominates again like he did early last year AND ALSO demonstrates some improvement on the attitude/professionalism front. Let's not count on that until it happens. For now, Pacioretty is doing what SKost did for the offence last year, picking up nice assists with his fine vision, but he adds more speed and more banging ability.

With regard to the wingers, I would like to have both Kovalev and Andrei K on the RW where they can be creative and I would keep both Patches and Latendresse on the LW to make it easier for them in their own zone.

Taking Chips out means having to put either Begin or Higgins into the centre spot. Do we prefer Higgins centering the third line, with Lapierre on a fourth line with either Latendresse on his left? Or has Maxime not proven he can handle third line duty, which would mean that Begin can center the fourth line?

Option 1 gives us the chance to put our top three offensive veterans on different lines and give the opposition fits in matching up, something like:

Pacioretty - Plekanec - Kovalev
Higgins - Koivu - A. Kostitsyn
Tanguay - Lapierre - d'Agostini
Latendresse - Begin - Kostopolous

Here, the fourth line would get limited minutes at even strength. On the PP, Latendresse could replace Pacioretty, and Tanguay replace Higgins. The 6 PK spots would be taken up by 5 regulars - Pleks, Higgins, Lapierre, Begin, Kostopoulos - and just a smidgen of Kovalev, Koivu or Tanguay. Save the three vets mainly for the offence since we won't be rolling four lines equally.

Option 2 puts Lapierre on the fourth line and gives us the chance to play the lines more equally. However, this only works if we can upgrade Begin to a guy more capable of playing regular minutes, which basically means the option is available only if S. Kostitsyn comes back in top-9 form. We could have something like :

Pacioretty - Plekanec - Kovalev
S.Kostitsyn - Koivu - A. Kostitsyn
Tanguay - Higgins- d'Agostini
Latendresse- Lapierre- Kostopolous

That fourth line was actually a pretty effective third line when Koivu, Tanguay and Higgins were all out at the same time, so I have no fear of using them for 12-13 minutes per game.

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