The Ducks generated an encouraging quantity of scoring chances up and down the four lines in last night's win against Minnesota. The line combinations were as follows:
The big sell on the Ducks this year is that they have the scoring depth to overcome new holes on defense, holes made bigger by the latest injury to Wisniewski. Arthur, the finishing wasn't quite there tonight, but do you think Carlyle has finally found his lines, or is there juggling still to be done?
Carlyle recently said that the juggling is a misconception. He intends to keep Getzlaf and Perry together, keep Selanne and Koivu together and maybe keep Marchant and Artyukhin together. Beyond those pairs, moving one guy from line to line doesn't constitute juggling in his mind, and he plans to rotate wingers for the rest of the year.
And I really don't see desperation in Carlyle's juggling until those key pairs are broken up. The genius of his system is that wingers are fighting to earn their place. Lupul and Christensen are capable of Top 6 play, but they have to forecheck and play well defensively on the third line to earn time on Koivu or Getzlaf's line. And the increased flexibility doesn't exactly hurt the other wingers. Bobby Ryan plays well with Selanne and Koivu. And Artyukhin adds a completely different wrinkle to the first line. At the end of the day, it's all about production.
With this lineup, Carlyle can rotate the hot hand in and out of his Top 6, while still keeping the central chemistry of each line intact. But I think he'll still use the healthy scratch as a coaching tool, and we may yet see his seven defensemen lineup. But for now, he has a pair of players inked in for the top three lines; everyone else is written in pencil.