Looks like my prayer request from the 12/30 blog worked. Steve Sullivan announced in the last few days the back feels strong enough to give it a go in a game, tentatively set for January 1oth against the Blackhawks. Listening to the talk shows today you can sense the excitement building for the game Saturday. I would say this is the biggest game for excitement since the debut of Peter Forsberg. And the only thing bigger than the excitement is the pressure on Sullivan. The team really needs a lift on the offensive side, but how long will it take for Sully to get into game shape and get the magical touch with the stick back? I am afraid the current 5 game losing streak dictates it better happen quick, which puts pressure on his shoulders to lift the team out of its slump along with his back.
Line Combinations I Would Like to See
1. If Sully comes back healthy and gets in the groove, where does he go? Straight to the top line. Dumont/Arnott/Sullivan is my choice for the top line. Create the superpower line that will yield consistent, solid scoring chances each shift and 1-2 goals per game.
2. Ward/Legwand/Erat- Can Joel Ward work the corners and get some opportunities for the "skill" players Legwand/Erat? Still looking for the magical missing 3rd piece to make this line finally perform to expectations. Radulov is my first choice, but I digress....
3. Jones/Bonk/Pihlstrom- Bonk has been toiling and wasting time on the 4th line all year. He wins face-offs and still has some skills to create. Problem is when he gets space/puck control on 4th line, Smithson/Peverly/Fiddler/whomever rarely convert. Give him a shot at centering a line with a little more skill to see what he can do.
4. Tootoo/Nichol/Smithson- The gnat line. Tootoo/Nichol are smaller, solid guys who annoy and draw penalties by getting in your face. They also both have a good slapshot when they get an opportunity. When you have a team struggling to score, these guys provide much needed additional power play chances by disturbing the other team. If Sullivan returns to sniper form with his shot, these power play chances provided by the 4th line will be goals 20% of the time.
All for now, love to hear a comment from you.