Let me preface this blog by saying the following is all predicated based on Tim Connolly
being able to play this weekend.
He sat out Wednesday’s practice with a sore groin - Nothing huge as it happens to many players after they see their first few games. So... let’s assume he’s in. Jochen Hecht
is set to return from his broken finger, which is great news. Now where do you put him and who comes out?
When Hecht was injured, he centered the line between Jason Pominville
and Dan Paille.
Things have changed.
Paille is with Paul Gaustad
and Pat Kaleta and they are a solid physical line.
Pominville has been with Connolly and Clarke MacArthur
. Putting Pominville and Hecht back together is a no brainer, as is keeping Vanek and Roy together.
Hecht practiced between Pominville and MacArthur and I think that has the making of an excellent defensive line that has plenty of skill.
So, where does Tim Connolly
go and who comes out of the lineup?
The remaining line consists of Adam Mair
centering Maxim Afinogenov
and Drew Stafford
I think Connolly is moved here and Mair moves to wing. Mair always plays hard and brings the sandpaper needed.
That means sitting either Maxim Afinogenov
or Drew Stafford
You may think sitting Max is an easy choice since he hasn’t found the net yet, but you have to like his hustle so far this season and he has been effective carrying the puck on the power play.
Stafford has struggled early, but has been money in the shootouts and that is something you can’t ignore in this new era of NHL hockey.
Tough choice and I’m glad I don’t have to make it and Lindy Ruff does.
And by the way, with or without a healthy Connolly it will be tough to sit Andrew Peters against Atlanta Friday with former Sabres Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn on the ice for the Thrashers.
Feel free to email me