We have seen a lot of bizarre line combinations so far this series, What Would You Do Wednesday is here to hear your ideas.
I am writing this still dewy-eyed over Johnny Gaudreau’s wrister from last-night’s game and hoarse from literally screaming after Backlund’s winner in overtime. After some considerate reflection of the game I got to thinking, “wow, there have been a lot of weird lines this series.” We are talking line-combos after the jump!
If you have been following the Flames in the playoffs, you probably already know that things haven’t really been going so hot for the Flames’ top-line of Hudler-Monahan-Gaudreau. With the exception of game-six against the Canucks, the line has been essentially invisible at even strength for the Flames and despite Johnny’s Rembrandt of a wrister with 20 seconds left, last night was no exception.
However, Bob Hartley has taken notice of their struggles and has opted to scramble pretty much every line during the second round because, well, the Flames were essentially awful 1 through 12 in games one and two and for large chunks of game three as well.
During this time, Flames fans saw Gaudreau removed from the top-line and placed on Backlund’s line with Bennett temporarily replacing him. Then, a cavalcade of replacements were tried (in game 2) on the top line including Mason Raymond and David Wolf with predictably poor results.
— Playoff Floob (@bookofloob) March 7, 2015
It isn’t just the top-line that has been tinkered with during the playoffs, every single line has been scrambled, rendering off-day and warmup line-rushes essentially meaningless. Bennett has played with Stajan, Backlund, Raymond, David Jones, Joe Colborne, and even noted sniper Brandon Bollig.
This constant line-shuffling seems justifiable in some sense because the Flames were getting absolutely nothing out of their current arrangement and were staring down 3-0 at home. For game three, Hudreanahan was reunited with, again, mixed results though it seems as though the problem may not be Gaudreau.
To be fair to Monahan, Hudler doesn’t look functional either right now. Rough going for those guys.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) May 6, 2015
I think most observers can agree that Monahan has been in tough this series, game three being perhaps his weakest showing of the playoffs. Fighting the puck, moving in slow motion, and looking lost in the defensive zone, it has been obvious that all is not right in Monaland. Despite denying any injury, something doesn’t seem right with Monahan and I have no idea if it is injury, sickness, or Monstar-style talent theft.
oh and Monahan has 100% OZ starts so far… so…11% CF with 100% OZ starts.. that is … abysmal.
— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) May 6, 2015
Furthermore, Hudler, who left game one with a mysterious injury, clearly isn’t himself either in round two and the combination of the two is leading to a very ineffective line one. The question becomes, who should go where? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Ferland is healthy even though that he is clearly not free of symptoms following that hit in game one. What would your ideal lineup look like? I will start mine with the top line.
As bad as it has been, the alternatives have not looked much better. ‘Dance with the one that brung ya’ in this case because I don’t think sticking Gaudreau on a line with David Jones makes a heck of a lot of sense. However, the Flames can absolutely change the way in which this line is used and essentially play them a lot less until/if they can shake out of this.
I have sympathy for Hartley because I have no idea what situation to play them in when things are this bad. Hartley has tried to shelter them (see Burtch tweet above) but there is no hiding from the Ducks forward depth. Perhaps giving some more minutes to the Backlund line could be a solution. Let me know what you guys think.
As for the rest of the lines, my lineup would be as follows:
- Bennett – Backlund – Shore
- Colborne – Stajan – Raymond
- Ferland/Wolf – Jooris – Jones
As you may have guessed from this, I am a fan of Drew Shore and not so much a fan of Joe Colborne and Brandon Bollig. However, Colborne and Bollig played generally well (scoring goals is great) and I am definitely open to changing my mind. The fourth line here would be an interesting mix of size and some semblance of scoring touch (though not a lot different really).
I thought Raymond had a very good game last night and may finally be switching into good Mason Raymond, who was spotted at some points this season, which would be a nice boost for the Flames forward depth. If Byron was to become healthy at some point, I would swap him in for Shore or Raymond but that’s another story.
I would like to see Shore on a line with some players who can skate as I think his game along the wall would compliment Bennett’s nicely. However, I am aware that this is a pipe dream as there is no way in hell that the Flames would remove Bollig from the lineup at this point but hey, a man can dream. Let me know what you guys would do in the comments!