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12-05-2012, 03:08 AM
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1) If the season starts some time soon, one could argue that this lockout was rather advantageous to their Cup chances because it means we didn't have to play without Gaborik. Right after the playoffs, it was announced that he would be gone for half a year or approximately until Thanksgiving. The extra few weeks of the lockout gave him a chance to be fully healed and not to be rushed because the team was in trouble offensively.

2) We would also be playing with Michael Sauer on defense. He reported made "tremendous progress" over the summer, but was still not ready 3 months ago. However, 3.5 to 4 months (from September to the end of the year) is a long time, and a lot of things can heal in that time. By now, it is a year since his injury.

3) Finally, we also allowed Kreider to develop in the supercharged AHL (supercharged because it has some NHLers and middling players who'd normally move back and forth). Instead of him struggling in the NHL, getting frustrated and sometimes having to watch while sitting next to Sather, he's adjusting to pro hockey in Hartford.

This year's team is not very deep at all. In fact, we'd probably need to add a third line center and a third line right wing to the current team in order to make it a prime Cup competitor.

Take out Gaborik and Sauer, and suddenly the team is very, very thin.

Nash - Brad - Cally
Hagelin - Stepan - Pyatt
Kreider - Boyle - Rupp
Asham - Halpern - Haley

McDonagh - Girardi
Staal - Stralman
MDZ - Eminger

Are you impressed with the depth of this lineup? Because I sure as hell am not. The second line is terrible, and the right side of the defense is weak. In fact, the whole right side is terrible, both RW and RD. Cally is not a first liner, Pyatt is not a second liner, Rupp isn't a third liner, and Haley shouldn't be taking regular shift. Girardi is good, but I'm not happy with both Stralman and Eminger in the lineup at the same time for a long term.

Now imagine what would happen if we suffered a couple of injuries, which we surely would've. Take out, say, Callahan and Stepan injured guys. Or Nash and Boyle. Suddenly, we are having both Newbury and Kolarik taking regular shift for a dozen minutes a game.

Nash - Brad - Pyatt
Hagelin - Boyle - Rupp
Kreider - Halpern - Kolarik
Asham - Newbury - Haley

Jesus... how do you win games with that kind of a lineup?

Add in Gaborik, Sauer and a more mature Kreider, and suddenly this squad is looking much better. We'll see how things turn out, but playing games after our guys return/mature is probably better than having the above lineup.

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