I have a bad feeling that Brunnstrom is about to rejoin the 4th line. He's looked great since Avery ran his mouth. Tonight, I thought he had a great night in the defensive zone, and he was good in the offensive zone.
Unfortunately for Brunnstrom, I think the guys getting healthy could push him out.
I would hope that Tippett would just stick with Neal and Bunnstrom playing with Ribeiro, but I think Lehtinen will rejoin him. Lundqvist would make sense to play with Richards which takes away that Top 9 spot. Parrish and Wilson have been sharing Modano's RW, and I don't know if Tippett would play Brunnstrom there over them. However, Brunnstrom has played well with Modano and Petersen as his center. He might succeed with them on the same line as well.
I guess the biggest question is what happens to the 4th line?
I just don't see why Tippett would bench Wilson over Barch. He has been using Wilson late in the game the last few games in place of Parrish. I'd love to see Parrish scratched, but I think that is a pipe dream. With 2 forwards getting healthy very soon and a 3rd on the way probably next week, who get's benched?
I'd like to see Barch get sat down first, but I don't think that happens. Conner has played very well, probably the best of the fringe players. Do they sit Wilson who has performed better than Barch? Petersen has been effective on Modano's wing so I don't think Wandell goes until Sutherby is healthy and can man the 4th line center spot. That or Lundqvist takes over as 4th line center for the time being.
They have both played RW the majority of the year and performed well. We've never even seen Petersen at RW, and I'm pretty sure Sutherby has only played C and LW.
I had no idea which side Sutherby played. I stupidly assumed mangement had finally gone out and found a right wing, right shot. Now you tell me otherwise. I'm fairly sure Peterson has played right wing with Modano a few times.
As for combinations. Neal can only play left wing. (Or least that's all he's ever played and there's no reason to move him.) Lehtinen plays on the right. Ott plays the left and I fear poor Modano will get stuck with him again but since he's out for a few more weeks we'll exclude him for now. I'd prefer Richards and Eriksson together, maybe if they play with someone half way decent on the other wing they'll start scoring again. That leaves this.
Would you try the Eriksson-Richards-Lundqvist line when he comes back? That line was a great second line in the playoffs.
I think that would be a good option. I really want to see Joel get a shot at translating his scoring touch from the playoffs into the regular season before he hits free agency.
And I'm still tantalized by the idea of Neal and Brunnstrom creating something that can be kept together even when everyone's healthy. Right now that would mean playing Lehtinen with Modano, but once Morrow comes back you could reunite the old 1st line and move the rookies to Modano.
I think it could definitely happen, but Brunnstrom and Eriksson with Richards would be a better line offensively.
It's my fervent hope to see Brunnstrom and Eriksson together. The two of them with Richards could really work.
As for Lundqvist, I've come to the realization that he's a great bottom six guy and not a scorer. It's too bad but I hope he's healthy and Dallas gets a nice pick/prospect for him at the deadline. He's shown to be an above average playoff performer and teams are always looking for guys like him going into the playoffs.