This is Anaheim Calling to the hockey world.
The Ducks have now dropped back to back games. However, unlike the St. Louis game, the Ducks attempted a comeback and then found their offense once again failing them in the waning minutes last night. The scoring chances were plentiful, but perhaps the Finnish was lacking. The Finnish duo that is supposed to provide the secondary scoring looked better in last night's game against the Stars, but Selanne only has those 4 early goals, and Koivu has a goal and an assist. Arthur, do you think the soon-to-be Olympians have rounded a corner, or is it time for Carlyle to use one of his favorite tactics and split the duo up in order to make them earn time with each other?
I don't think splitting up that duo is one of Carlyle's "favorite tactics." He certainly doesn't split up Perry and Getzlaf unless things are going horribly wrong. Though we could certainly question whether or not Selanne and Koivu actually have the chemistry for which they are credited.
I think Carlyle's right that the problem with the second line is one of composition. Koivu and Selanne are working well together, but are often limited to one shot or scoring chance on a shift-- something like Koivu going behind the net, throwing the puck in front to Selanne, the opposing defense retrieving the puck and starting a transition. There should be more in their attack sequence.
Conventional hockey wisdom says that, if you have one-dimensional players, you build a line with a speedster, a finesse player and a hitter. The speedster is your goal scorer, the finesse player is your playmaker and the hitter tries to disrupt the defense and maintain posession. Now, these are professionals, not kids in peewee, but Lupul and Selane can certainly be called one-dimensional. You often see them bunching on plays and expecting Koivu to both disrupt the defense AND distribute the puck. A physical presence or an additonal playmaking presence does much more for that line than Lupul. That's why you saw success with Ryan on the flank last night and with Christensen there earlier.
If Carlyle can put the right piece on that line, Selanne and Koivu will be able to create a sustained attack. I think we've underestimated Jere Lehtinen's contribution to the Wonder Finns.
I think Carlyle has proven that he will move players around the lines if they aren't producing at what he thinks is 100%. There's no denying that Koivu and Selanne are working with a limited number of chances, and you're right to say it's usually one and done. However, I think the scoring chances for the Finns are coming more form the rush than anywhere else, and even those have been limited. Ryan did create more opportunities and held the puck in, but in the back of my mind, I see him dishing to Joffrey Lupul. The two of them were playing together frequently in the preseason, and I can't understand why Carlyle hasn't gotten back to that combination. He needs offense, and Ryan and Lupul seemed to be developing a knack for finding each other. Imagine what they could do if they were being centered by Koivu, who's shown how badly he wants to work behind the net to get the puck into the slot or into the crease.
Also, Getzlaf and Perry have always been willing to cycle. Selanne might be better served running with them on every shift. Last year that line was pretty potent with the man advantage. Carlyle separated them so that he could have some offense on another line. But now, he has exactly that. I'm a huge Teemu Selanne fan, however there's no denying that he seems to be the squeaky wheel in this situation. It's really about finding him a comfortable place. Finishers are the most finicky pieces of a line combination. Checkers will always check, and playmakers will get the puck to whoever is there. But a finisher needs a guy who knows where he will be. I know Koivu came here to play with Selanne, but the Ducks can't mess this one up. When we were playing the Blues, Carlyle broke up the Perry-Getzlaf duo in order to shake up the team and generate a little offense. It's time he considers doing the same to the Wonder Finns, so he can exercise all offensive options and make sure we have the two scoring lines we need to be competitive. Because let's face it, the D isn't going to get too much better anytime soon.