Friday, April 11, 2008

Lines and Match-ups

Did someone say Playoffs? You can almost taste the excitement. Big news is that it looks like both Morrison and Schultz will suit up. Morrison back is huge, and though Schultz has played quite well lately, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Eminger get in there, especially if Schultzy is less than 100%. For the bad guys, it looks like Briere is in, and Smith is back too. These are the line combos I expect to see tomorrow for the Caps:

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Kozlov
Cooke – Fedorov – Semin
Fleishman – Laich – Gordon
Brashear – Steckel – Bradley

Morrison – Green
Schultz – Poti
Jurcina – Erskine

I think the Flyer lines will shake out like this:

Thoresen – Richards – Lupul
Prospal – Briere – Hartnell
Upshall – Carter – Knuble
Cote – Umberger – Kapanen (could be Dowd instead)

Timonen – Coburn
Smith – Jones (or Parent)
Kukkonen – Modry

Line match ups could play an important role in the series, and as the home squad for games 1 and 2, the Caps need to take advantage of the last change. I imagine Stevens is going to want Richards line (along with Timonen and Coburn) out against Ovechkin. I’m not wholly bothered by this, but I’d like to see Boudreau avoid that match up if he can and get Ovechkin’s troika out against the Briere line, making Briere and Prospal play in their own zone, something they definitely don’t want to do (the Rangers used Jagr’s line against Briere last year in the playoffs and Briere got nothing done). Then throw Laich’s line against Richards ideally, and let Fedorov’s unit eat up Upshall, Carfter, and Knuble. However, if Richards and Co. get going (Lupul has had some playoff success), Coach Bruce will probably need to play Fedorov against those guys. As great as Richards has been and is going to be, I still think the 38 year old Russian can utilize his decades of high level and high stakes experience and put the snot nosed kid in his back pocket. These two coaches know each other from the AHL days, and I think you can expect significant in-game maneuvering and line matching (expect Boudreau to be trying his best to get Ovechkin out against Philly’s third defensive pair). Whoever wins the matching games could go a long way in determining the series winner.


hiphiphuet said...

I could also see Stevens matching the Briere line against the Ovechkin line, forcing Ovechkin to play against Hartnell. Hartnell was clearly on a mission to bully Crosby in the game last week against the Pens. I think either the Federov or Laich lines can handle the Richards unit. I'd like to see Cooke in there grinding against Briere (still hurting) and Lupul.

rananda said...

yea it's interesting that the flyers' scoring line with the worst defenders (briere and prospal) also has one of their best checkers (hartnell). conversely, laich and gordon (two great players in the their own zone) play with flash (not so great in his own zone). all in all, id love it if we got ovechkin's line out there against briere's line. i dont think briere and prospal want any piece of having to chase around ovechkin and backstrom. i would love to see cooke bugging the hell out of briere as well.