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11-01-2003, 03:48 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Minnesota
Country: Ukraine
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Wild lineup (and lines) after the signings

Great to have both Pascal and Marian back, it creates some lineup problems though. Including the two goalies, we have a grand total of 25 players. Someone has to go. Here's what we have:

PM Bouchard
Sergei Zholtok
Wes Walz
Marc Chouinard
Jim Dowd
Darby Hendrickson

Left Wing(5)
Pascal Dupuis
Andrew Brunette
Christoph Brandner
Antti Laaksonen
Matt Johnson

Right Wing(4)
Marian Gaborik
Richard Park
Brent Burns
Alexandre Daigle

Filip Kuba
Willie Mitchell
Nick Schultz
Andrei Zyuzin
Brad Bombardir
Brad Brown
Travis Roche
Alex Henry

I think it's a no-brainer that either Henry or Roche will go down south, and frankly I don't give a damn which one. That still leaves us with one extra forward. Sure, they'll take a few days to decide since Burns is very conviniently on *IR* (wink, wink), but it's inevitable. The likeliest candidate IMO is Darby, although what do I know. Dowd? Chouinard? Laaksonen? Daigle? Brandner? The last two are highly unlikely I think, but we don't know what's going on inside the room and inside Jacques' head, so anything can happen. I'll assume that it's Darby, and move on to the line combinations.

If there is one thing that we've all learned in the last 3+ years, it's that we shouldn't even try to guess Lemaire's lines, it's hopeless. But we are stubborn, we won't give up Here's what I think might work pretty good.

We've seen great chemistry between Walz and Gabby last spring, and I just couldn't resist the temptation to team them up again. Sure, it's soft and small, but so are the top lines of many teams. But it's lightning-fast, creative and deadly up front, and Walz will take care of the defensive responsibilities while helping out his wingers offensively. I was extremely tempted to put Brandner on LW instead of Bouchard, but the fact that Gabby and Christoph just met yesterday for the first time made me a little cautious.

Another smallish line, but has the same basic principles as the first line. Zholtok will create for Dupuis, Park will help them and take care of defense. Oh, and this line has some wheels too.

I don't see the need to break up this line now that they will not be pressured to produce, not as much as they were a week ago anyways. I like this trio together, Brandner and Daigle have pretty nice chemistry going, and Chouinard compliments them well, even though he will never be confused for an offensive forward. I could see Laaksonen on this line as well, since Chouinard will be taking a big load of defensive face-offs.

Now we can really work Burns into the lineup slowly. Give him some time on the 4th line with a couple of solid vets, some time on PP, and watch him develop. That eliminates any unneccessary pressure, keeps him calm and confident. Bruno, no doubt, will help him put up his share of points with his playmaking ability.

Spares- Laaksonen, Johnson. They will see their share of games and minutes as well.

The lines will be juggled on a shift-to-shift basis as usual, esspecially because we have some versatile forwards- Zholtok, Park, Bouchard, Dowd. I'm sure we'll see Gabby and Brandner, Walz and Laaksonen together, Bouchard at center, Dowd and Chouinard on the wings... But it's fun to speculate, now that we have much better depth (including scoring depth). Overall, I think we can easily and safely roll out all four lines at any point in the game.

No need to look at defense and goaltending, as that will pretty much stay the same.


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