Impressive top line work by Matt Beleskey
Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
Randy Carlyle's new line combinations have Matt Beleskey with Getzlaf and Perry, Jason Blake with Koivu and Selanne and finally Ryan Carter with Ryan and Sexton. It may be Carlyle's first serious attempt this season to construct three viable scoring lines, but his effort didn't really show up on the stat sheet as the Ducks were stifled for shots through three periods and each player looked every bit of the back-to-back performance they were giving.
Arthur, based on tonight's performance, what would you think of these combinations as the Ducks' new trios for the season?
Well, I think it's tough to judge based on tonight's game. As you said, a lot of these guys were tired. Even line changes were causing problems for the team. Each combination had at least one good sequence, but none of them could really sustain any offense, as evidenced by the shot totals.
The thing is, I like these combinations on paper. Every line has a potential defensive and backchecking presence, and the top two lines have proven last season and this season that they are capable of playing very well together. I know some people will think Ryan is wasted on a Carter-Sexton line, but I think those two can do some very nice things for him in the long run. Sexton was getting to loose pucks and Carter eases the defensive responsibilities for Ryan while providing a reliable pass. And thanks to a lot of special teams time, Ryan managed to lead the team in shots tonight with five, so it's not like he didn't get a chance to contribute. If that line can find its stride-- and seeing as how Ryan and Sexton played together successfully last season, I think they can --then these could be very good lines in a game where everyone's rested.
Again, it's tough to project based on tonight's performance, but if you and I were starting an NHL 11 season together, you could definitely talk me into this depth chart.
As much as it pains me to say this, I agree with everything you've said. In fact, when I got done reading your answer, I was beginning to wonder what I would say. I suppose my one caveat would be this: eventually, the line juggling needs to stop. I thought Sexton looked fine on the second line. I know the goals weren't coming quite yet, but he didn't look out of place, and the chances were definitely there. It was only a matter of time before they started depositing the puck in the back of the net. Still, Carlyle pulled out his dry-erase marker and started moving players again. Sexton wasn't the problem.
The key to the third scoring line has been, and always will be, Bobby Ryan. He got a nice new contract, and anchoring this line will go a long way to demonstrating that the Ducks made the right investment. He CAN do it. The reason the third line didn't work was because it had Beleseky and Blake on it. Ryan and Blake probably would have been just as serviceable, If not more potent. Then, Carlyle would also have a veteran presence on every line.
Alright, before my rant becomes entirely misguided, my final point is that Carlyle is the real key to making these line combinations work. On paper, these lines look more than capable of giving defenses fits, but if Randy decides to keep juggling lines instead of letting the guys fight through it and generate their own chemistry, then these line combinations won't even get the chance to be successful.