It's a conversation running rampant in the Quick Hits thread, but I wanted to bring it out to the open for it's own thread.
Ansar KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN!!! reported today on twitter that Babcock was running practice with the following lines:
Bertuzzi - Datsyuk - Alfredsson
Franzen - Zetterberg - Tatar
Abdelkader - Weiss - Cleary
Miller - Andersson - Tootoo
Kronwall - Smith
Quincey - DeKeyser
Kindl - Lashoff
He also said that Eaves is cleared to play but won't dress on Saturday.
So that's the facts; now for the opinions.
I'm not sure about anyone else, but I would rather see Quincey - Kronwall as the top pair with Kindl - DeKeyser as the second pair. Quincey has been playing better as of late when he's played with better defensemen and playing Smith with Kronwall seems to me redundant. They're both "offensive" but Smith's risky play would hamper Kronwall's ability to in the offensive zone. While Quincey is offensive as well, he is better at being responsible than Smith. Not a lot better, but better. Plus, if you're going to play Dekeyser on the 2nd PP unit with Kindl and since they'll probably pair together again when Ericsson returns, you might as well pair them the entire time to continue to build the chemistry they showed last year. Adding to that, having Smith and Lashoff play minimal and sheltered minutes isn't a bad thing, but having them play together gives Smith a chance to take more calculated risks because you have a stay at home defenseman backing him up in Lashoff.
All around, Kronwall - Quincey, Kindl - DeKeyser, Smith - Lashoff seems like a much more balanced blue line than the pairs currently skating.
I, for one, am generally accepting to most of the line combo's Babcock has been sending out. I haven't had many issues with them. Hank - Pav - Alfie is a trickshot line and fun to watch. Hank - Pav - Abby is a classic net front line capable of putting up points while shutting down a high power opponent line. Mule - Weiss - Alfie is a well above league average 2nd line. Miller - Andersson - Cleary is a good shutdown 4th line (though I don't think it's been used much). So I'm willing to wait and see what happens with moving Zetterberg off of Datsyuk's wing.
All in all, I don't think the problem on the offensive side is the line combinations. And as much as people are hating on Franzen, he's 5th on the team in points. Oh and by the way, we're only 11 games into the season. So stop the doom and gloom. Weiss...I don't love moving him down a line, but sometimes to get a grasp on the offensive scheme, playing against weaker competition is a good thing. Playing on the 3rd line should do that. But I don't want it to last too long.
Frankly, I think the lines should move back to this sooner rather than later:
Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Abdelkader/Bertuzzi
When Datyusk and Zetterberg are paired, they force the hand of the other team. Opponents HAVE to play their top forwards and top defensive pair against them. Adding Abby or Bert to the EuroTwins gives a board battler/net front screener to shove home rebounds from the quick shot/sniper shots that Hank and Pav are capable of launching from distance as well as being in and around the crease for saucer passes for back door open net scoring chances. I prefer this top line because it forces the hand of the other team. And no, I don't have an answer for what to do with Abby if Bert is playing and vice versa. Probably the best solution is below...
Franzen - Weiss - Alfredsson
I think this line is a VERY capable 1st line for a lot of teams. For the Wings, it's an excellent 2nd line. It just needs time to gel, especially since Weiss and Alfredsson are learning a new system and partners. If you put Calvin Johnson and Peyton Manning together, they'd show flashes of brilliance at first, but Megatron wouldn't run the routes perfectly in his first few weeks and Manning's timing on Johnson's routes wouldn't be perfect either. Given time, they'd gel just fine. But throw in mercurial Franzen to 2 newbies and you just can't expect perfection. The nice thing is that they're dangerous. Very dangerous. 90 goal dangerous from the 3 of them combined. Now to get them to gel...let them play.
Cleary - Andersson - Tatar
Yes, ideally, you'd rather have Nyquist than Cleary. I get that. So does everyone and your mother. But what are you going to do about it? Here's your "two kids and a goat" line. No, Cleary is not Brett Hull. But neither is Andersson and Tatar Zetterberg and Datsyuk. So what are you going to do about it? Nothing. It's currently the best option we have for the 3rd line based on lines 1 and 2. And enough with the anti-Cleary bias. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are the only forwards with a better +/- and all the forwards that should have more points than him do, except for Weiss who has the same number. The only one with more that shouldn't is Andersson, which I'm ok with. Cleary has a CSSI +/- differential of +3.5. Which means he positively impacts the game more than is recognized on the official score sheet. **+/- differential is calculated by taking JJ's adjusted +/- and subtracting the official +/-** And as I proved in comments after he was re-signed, you can't blame his knees since he plays a majority of games.
Miller - Helm/Glendening (Abby until the roster crunch is fixed) - Tootoo
Miller is well deserving of his contract and role on the PK. I think JJ has said enough in other posts to confirm this, so I won't add to it. I'm one of the few who want to keep Tootoo. Not for his fighting ability, just for his energy and peskiness. I think he has more value there than many think, not to mention his RH shot. I like Eaves, believe me I do, but I think he's more easily replaced by Grand Rapid players than Tootoo is. (And don't give Callahan as an option. He's not seasoned in the NHL like Tootoo. Tootoo is a professional pest. Callahan can get there, but I'd rather he polish his offensive game first in the AHL and then become a pest in the NHL after Tootoo's contract isn't renewed, even though he's cheaper.) With the thought process of eliminating fighting running rampant in the league right now, having a pest like Tootoo is a great thing to have. He can get under the skin of other players with his energy and checks and draw some penalties. He's already shown maturity and lowered his "dumb penalty" rate. He has more value as a pest than an enforcer. As for centering the 4th line...I really liked what I saw from Glendening. But there isn't the roster space for him. So I would run Abby out there and let Bertuzzi play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on top. When Helm is ready to go, Abby moves back up and Bertuzzi moves to the bench with Samuelsson.
Bench: Bertuzzi - Glendening
Ideally Eaves and Samuelsson would be moved so that Glendening and Nyquist could be brought up. Cleary would move to the 4th line with Nyquist on the 3rd. Glendening would be Helm's safety net and Bertuzzi would get spot starts. But all of this requires the movement of Eaves and Samuelsson (with a waive of his NTC) for picks or prospects.