WWYDW: Will It Blend?

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. 

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.   

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.

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. 

HUDREAUNAHAN

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.

THE REST

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!

  • TheRealPoc

    Yea Both Hudler and Monahan playing poorly puts the coach in a tough position.

    Double shifting Gaudreu and minimizing the 1st line minutes is the only option.

    They have to be hurt.

  • prendrefeu

    What about, and I’ll get trashed for this but whatever, throwing Poirier into the mix. I know that Monahan is a Center, and Poirier isn’t. I also know that Hudler is a vet with lots of experience (esp. playoff experience) which is invaluable on the ice.

    That said, Poirier isn’t a small dude. He’s also fast.
    And has no qualms at all at making a check when necessary.
    What happens if the Flames roll an ‘all youth, no pressure just skill’ line?
    Gaudreau, Monahan, Poirier?
    Gaudreau Bennett Poirier?

    What about Arnold?

    Just thinking about things that may or may not be a possibility.

    Surely there is a risk in a playoff series against tough competition to play a rookie. A total risk. Then again, with great risks come great rewards.

    Anyway, here come the trash-clicks.

  • wot96

    The Flames are paying the price for not attending to the basics at the start of this series?
    The basics were to minimize the much flounted size of the Ducks!
    It was obvious that the Ducks would employ a crushing style of play to slow down the first line!
    Okay if not McGratton to civilize the intentions of the Ducks than a simple recipe of two big players and one medium sized player (Hudler,Gaudreau) to at least protect from injury during the first two games!
    The frightening reality for the Ducks is that Gaudreau proved he can survive this style of play. Even more frightening is the fact that Colborne likes this style as well!
    The Flames Team propensity to stick check rather than body check will probably be their undoing!
    The Flames thought they were above the SNARLY aspects of playoff hockey – Hartley’s whole motivation now is to cover up the sins of this management self deception – I have confidence that his experiments will prove fruitful!
    Welcome to the Stanly Cup Playoffs!

  • hulkingloooooob

    johnny – mony – huds

    bennet – backs – jones

    colby – stage – raymond

    ferland/wolf – jooris – shore

    same as yours but switch jones and shore.
    you could also switch jooris and stage perhaps. depending on matchup.

    we need to find at least one line that can burn them with speed. I’m not sure which one of their forward lines would be “slowest” but that could be at least part of the plan. with that in mind perhaps a bennet jooris raymond/shore line could be pretty gritty (shore) and/or fast (raymond) when needed. to be honest i think it’s more about how the lines match up against the ducks then anything. really, i’d like to go with whatever hartley goes with cause i trust the dude. at this point he has taken over achieving to a place no NHL team has in years. who was the last major over achiever in the playoffs comparable to a team like calgary. I can’t think of anyone in recent years.

WWYDW: Will It Blend?

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!

Continue reading “WWYDW: Will It Blend?”

  • beloch

    Bollig’s goal last night was a legitimately good goal. He got open in a dangerous area of the ice, took a great pass and made no mistake in burying the chance. I’d like to make generalizations about how his goals are usually uglier, but he just hasn’t scored often enough to allow me to do that! Playoff Bollig seems to be a completely different beast than regular season Bollig. I’d love to see Shore back in, but I’d be shocked if Hartley benched Bollig after a game in which he scored a goal and had a CF% of 70%, even if he did play just 6 minutes.

    Colborne, aside from that beautiful short-handed goal, finished just shy of 20 minutes with a CF% of 52%. He too has earned a spot in the next game.

    As for Hartley’s use of the line-blender… I really wonder if what we’re seeing is Hartley just doing everything he can to utterly befuddle Boudreau. If Boudreau had match-ups in mind before last game, they would have fallen to pieces pretty darned quick. Perhaps the Flames would play more optimally with their usual lines, but whatever Hartley is doing seems to be working against the Ducks.

    • Absolutely. There’s no chance Bollig gets taken out after last game. Essentially, I figure if Ferland can’t go I wouldn’t mind seeing Shore rather than Granlund but I like having Granlund’s skill as well. I suppose Raymond is the obvious choice but he also had a good game last night. Logically, I chose Bollig because I was playing the percentages of how he has looked this season (i.e not good)