In something that has become a little bit of a joke – call it a weird coincidence, who knows – over the past two seasons, after making suggestions for the Kings line-up, Darryl Sutter has magically used them the next game.
Case in point, when the Kings were trailing in the San Jose series, I posted these wholesale changes on twitter…
If you really want to have a debate, these would be my lines tonight if I was LA coach: 12-11-23, 70-77-73, 74-28-14, and 13-24-22.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) April 22, 2014
Much to the surprise of those paying attention, those ended up being the top three lines at morning skate for Game 4 (April 24). The Kings went on to win six straight. Sutter then deviated from that look on Saturday and the Kings dropped their second straight to the Ducks.
Where should he go from here? A return to the line-up used to win the San Jose series could work. However, there is one problem – Jeff Carter. We’ll get to that in a minute.
First, on defense, based on some intel we picked up, this tweet went out Monday morning:
Nothing confirmed yet, but wouldn’t surprise me to see a change on #LAKings blueline tonight for Game 5 at the ponda.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) May 12, 2014
At this point, it’s obvious, the Kings needs Carter’s explosiveness at wing. Thus, he has to move out of the middle. They also shouldn’t split up Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli. That means Carter should move to the top line. You can argue putting Jarret Stoll or Mike Richards as the second line center, but I’d go with Richards there because Dustin Brown and Justin Williams with Stoll seems to make more sense. There just isn’t as much chemistry in a 23-10-14 line.
Linden Vey is an option as the 2C, but that’s a big ask for a green rookie late in a series and also causes further confustion among an already garbled bottom-6. You’re better off going with a veteran to balance things out.
As for the fourth line, take your pick. For example, you can play Jordan Nolan over Kyle Clifford. Yet, if that’s what the game comes down to, Sutter is in real trouble.
Up front, here are the line suggestions:
Gaborik – Kopitar – Carter
Pearson – Richards – Toffoli
Brown – Stoll – Williams
King – Fraser – Lewis
UPDATE RE: DEFENSE…
There is still a lot of time left in this game… but, since I have your attention… I will be SHOCKED if @Willie_Mitch33 doesn’t play Wed.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) May 13, 2014
By the way, for all the naysayers, yes – there have also been plenty of times over the fast couple of years where suggestions made here never saw the light of day. Let’s be real. Sutter isn’t reading twitter. If he was, this would have been given more consideration at the beginning of the season.
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Where’s Nolan ? I haven’t seen him get thrown in there?
John Hoven says
Nolan is expected to play tonight in place of Clifford.
Could mean more power play time for the Ducks
Agree, Carter isn’t nearly as effective taking on the center role. Would loved to have seen Vey in game 4 where Sutter could protect him. Now there are few good options left; do you really want to start a rookie in Game 7? .
They also have to find better transition defense. Martinez is fast but is a terrible transition defender and doesn’t take enough care with the puck. His athleticism and skating lets him get away with a lot when playing against other teams bottom 6 lines, but not this series. And both he and Voynov have been getting abused in the corners by the Ducks big forwards. The Ducks count on this and have been leaving forwards low assuming they are going to win puck battles and this has created lots of good chances for them.
I’m assuming Mitchell cant go given he hasn’t skated. If that’s true, I see two choices to shake things up. 1. Dress Vey and see if he can find some space or 2. If Sutter seems himself possibly rolling 3 lines for chunks of the game then Id like to see him roll 7 D and play McNabb. Supposedly he makes good decisions with the puck and has a great shot.
Either way, I don’t love the idea of having rookies play their first playoff game in Game 7. Except for a few games beating up on some soft competition (Calgary, Edmonton) this spring, the team really hasn’t played consistently well since December. Something has got to change.
The problem is that all of the options that now seem reaosnable now require playing rookies in a game 7.
Greg Zuercher says
Love the lines, line 1 is my go to line in NHL 14 and dominates for what its worth (absolutely nothing). Would be fun to watch