Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shuffling the deck ... smartly

The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reports:
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock has adjusted the forward lines, saying he wants veteran players to help support young players on each line.
Here they are:
  • F1: Raffi Torres -- Antoine Vermette -- Rick Nash
  • F2: Kristian Huselius -- Derick Brassard -- R.J. Umberger
  • F3: Jason Chimera -- Sammy Pahlsson -- Jake Voracek
  • F4: Jared Boll -- Derek MacKenzie -- Mike Blunden
Now this is interesting.  Looking at the lineups, I see three things happening:

1. The "Big Brothers" approach.  Voracek, Brassard and Nash (yes, Nash) are flanked by veterans who will hopefully help in keeping their minds on the Hitchcock style of game, regardless of the game circumstances.  I really like this and can only hope that Hitch gives the third line equal standing to the first two lines.  That's a nice lineup (4th line included!).  Now, how do we get Mase a little "Big Brother" treatment?

2. We're in a meritocracy, and that's a GREAT thing.  Raffi Torres has been tearing it up - even after taking the puck in the jaw - so he gets rewarded with time on the premier line.  Huselius and Umberger are tailing off a little, so they go to the second line.  Not sure what to make of the Voracek move in this light; I think he's more in the "big brother" mode with regard to his place on the roster.

3. Hitch is always thinking.  He's had enough of what he saw on the read trip, and he's going to make changes that prohibit the team from behaving the same way.  There's no quit in Ken Hitchcock.

One defensive change that I don't get - scratching Kris Russell again.  He signed his extension in October and then preceded to ride the pine.  Makes no sense.  If he was important enough to re-sign early, isn't he important enough to play?  Never mind that he's probably the best Blue Jacket at skating the puck out of the defensive zone.  Perhaps it's because the Flames play the Jackets as if the Boys in Union Blue stole their lunch money.

Should be a good game tonight - glad to see the Jackets get some home cooking!

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