- #7: Top line playing too much dump-and-chase
- #8: May be time to break up the top two lines
Last night's game was a pretty gosh darn bad one for Brayden Schenn. In almost 19 minutes of ice time (including five and a half on the power play and less than 30 seconds on the penalty kill), Schenn managed to go just +4 in on-ice unblocked shot attempts. And even that metric is a bit misleading, because it's largely a function of him getting paired with Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and the Flyers' top powerplay unit. Schenn had just two scoring chances, though, to be fair, Giroux also had just two and Simmonds had a single one.
So maybe statistically it wasn't just Schenn who was bad. It was that whole "first" line. But Schenn looked especially useless, primarily because he doesn't really do anything if he isn't crashing the net and hitting guys a second after they pass the puck. It's tough to put him in a better situation than with Giroux and Simmonds, but that trio is not functioning as the sum of its parts right now.
Sean Couturier, also, is not functioning as well as we had all expected. Charlie cited his issues on breakouts, which is an issue that gets amplified by the poor goaltending the team has received so far this year. Through the first dozen or so games, it felt like every mistake in the defensive zone ended up in the back of the net. Couturier needs to clean it up, and there's really no excuse for any caliber of hockey player to have issues exiting the zone with Jake Voracek and Travis Konecny on his wings.
Line 1: The CJK Line (Couturier-Jake-Konecny)
Don't fix it if it isn't broken, just maybe work a little more on (1) breakouts and (2) tic-tac-toe passes around the net in the offensive zone.
(Editor's note: that's a Chinese-Japanese-Korean language pun, bet you didn't expect that out of me.)
Line 2: The Giroux Line (Read-Giroux-Simmonds)
I really liked Read on the top line, and I don't think it was a fluke that his scoring totals went way up when he was paired with Giroux and Simmonds. Charlie called for a winger who can create on the rush, and Read fits that bill as well as anyone who isn't already included in this top six (except maybe Nick Cousins).
Line 3: Schenn-Cousins-Weise
This line would be an absolute nightmare to play against, and the primary goal would be to get Schenn playing like the scumbag he is in the playoffs. I want these guys finishing their checks, crashing the net, and mixing it up with the other team after the whistle. For what it's worth, they also have a sneaky amount of skill, and they should be able to contribute offensively if they can get rolling in the offensive zone.
Line 4: Vandevelde-Bellemare-Raffl
I'm sorry, Raf. You're getting relegated to mop-up duty. This line's purpose is to house two of the better penalty killers on the team (plus Raffl, who probably would be a bang-up PK'er too) and give the top nine a blow every so often.
Scratches: Gordon, Lyubimov
Boyd Gordon may well be the worst signing of Ron Hextall's entire career when it's all said and done. He stinks at everything, and he's bad at everything too. Lyubimov probably deserves a spot in the lineup, but I like those four lines so I'm relegating him to the press box for now.
- Del Zotto-Gostisbehere
I would like to include the caveat that Mark Streit just straight up needs to be better than he is right now.
This has obviously been an issue for Hakstol, because for some who-the-fuck-knows reason he's used Andrew MacDonald (and a few other questionable guys) in 3-on-3 overtime. Here are the four trios I'd use:
- Schenn-Simmonds-Del Zotto
That fourth trio would be a "let's see how the Giroux line feels and if they need a break I trust those three to do alright for 30-40 more seconds" situation.
Hakstol's issue with using Konecny in overtime, apparently, is his overly aggressive nature. That's the only reason I have Streit above Del Zotto and Provorov on this depth chart.