Thread: Line Combos: What if Lisin surprises?
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08-30-2009, 01:24 PM
Change is good.
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What if Lisin surprises?

In all of the line combo discussions I've seen this summer, the assumption is that of the 13 potential starting forwards on the roster, Lisin is the one on the bubble. We've been debating whether or not he could thrive on the 4th line instead of Byers, whether he's better served in the minors (although I'm fairly certain that he's subject to waivers, so if he goes down, he's staying down) or sitting in the press box and waiting for an injury, etc.

But all of these scenarios assume that he's a work in progress, that he'll struggle defensively and go through some of the same ups and downs that were reported in PHX last year. Here's what we haven't considered: what if he takes that next step and develops into the legit top 6 scorer the Rangers hope he can be? I mean, Slats didn't trade Korpikoski to get him because he thinks that he might eventually develop into a solid 3rd liner. (After all, that's what Korpi already was.)

If you look at Lisin at his best, you know the other NHL player he reminds me of most? Marian Gaborik. Yes, I know, those are only the best moments - but the Rangers clearly acquired him because they think these moments can be the rule, not the exception. If he eliminates the inconsistencies in his game, he will force Tortorella to play him in the top 6.

So, let's eliminate the cynicism we've built up over years of disappointment in the Rangers' treatment of young players. Let's take Tortorella on his word that he will play players pretty much on merit. Let's give the team braintrust credit for the fact that they have committed to building from within and since the lockout players like Staal, Girardi, Dubinsky, Callahan and of course Lundqvist have come up through the system to become important players on the team (and they appear to be leaving as many as four more spots open on the roster for kids to take this year)... and let's consider: what do the lines look like if Lisin forces his way into the top 6? Who sits or plays fourth line (assuming injuries don't make the decision easy)?

From my point of view, there are 3 potential options:

1) One of the other "top 9" players on the roster gets bumped to the fourth line. I know that his fanboys are going to freak out at the suggestion, but of all of them, Avery is really the only one who it seems to me could be effective in that role. Under such a scenario, the lines could look something like this:

Voros or Byers

This to me is the lineup that makes the most sense. Every player is in a position where he can be effective.

2) One of the other forwards sits as an extra. Honestly, of all the players on the roster, the two that would make the most sense to me are actually the two new FA acquisitions, Prospal and Kotalik. Gaborik ain't sitting and Avery, Higgins and Callahan are all much more effective all-around players than the two FAs. Given Prospal's last year, the way he exited TB, and, frankly, the fact that he's here pretty much as a favor/tryout because Torts had success with him in the past, it could be him.

Lisin-Drury-Kotalik / Prospal-Drury-Lisin
Prospal / Kotalik

This is the lineup you would see if Prospal is legitimately on the downside of his career or Kotalik goes into one of his long scoreless slumps.

3)Anisimov starts the year in the AHL. I don't think he's got anything to prove there, but the staff would no doubt prefer him getting regular playing time as the first line center on the 'Pack as opposed to playing the 4th line (or press box) in the NHL. Here's what the lines could look like:


This is the lineup that you would see if the team is worried that a "demoted" Avery or a sitting vet who came here as an UFA would have a detrimental effect in the clubhouse.

Thoughts? Remember, this is the scenario where Lisin breaks out and forces his way into the lineup, potentially as the second scoring option behind Gaborik. It's not enough to simply say "you can't play Avery on the fourth line" or "you can't sit Prospal" and then dump Lisin down to the fourth line again - you then have to propose an alternate scenario where Lisin is still playing on one of the top 2 lines and someone else is sitting.

Last edited by BrooklynRangersFan: 08-30-2009 at 01:32 PM.
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