Ducks fans might not be sweating as seriously as they should be over the injuries to Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne considering the playoffs are slipping out of reach. These two missing extended time could only shift the team's postseason hopes from slim to none.
Still, the Ducks depth might be underestimated. When Selanne went down to injury this year, the combination of Ryan-Koivu-Sexton was incredibly effective. Arthur, do you think that line is the Ducks' best chance at making a scoring threat, or is there a better option?
I think that line ends up being the best line for each of the players, but not necessarily the best line for the team. A soft-handed hitter takes some puck retrieval pressure off of Koivu while keeping Sexton on a skill line, where he has the greatest chance to contribute. And the pressure of being the soft-handed hitter keeps Bobby from getting too cute out there, forcing him to pull the fire alarm in the opponent's house on every shift. Putting any of the three players in other situations seems to leave them to their own devices, where Bobby gets fancy, Saku tries to do too much and Sexton starts to look his size.
Still, I think there are better options overall. This trio didn't stay hot for their entire run together. And you now have to contemplate putting a large and defensively capable forward on each line to make it easier for Visnovsky, Niedermayer or Wisniewski to jump into the play. Bobby can hit, but he's already admitted that skating backwards is unnatural to him.
They've already looked good together, and that's more than you can say for a lot of combinations on this team, even with Carlyle's Rubik's Cube depth chart. However, the makeup of this team has changed since then, and I don't fault Carlyle for trying to find the best groupings overall. He may, ultimately, put one or all of these players in a position where they would underperform what they could otherwise have done together, but if it creates three legitimate scoring lines, then it's well worth the sacrifice.
I think what makes this situation interesting is the lack of depth up the middle in the Ducks lineup. With Getzlaf out, our prospects for a second line center include: Todd Marchant, Ryan Carter, and Kyle Chipchura. Not the most promising of offensive candidates. Selanne's potential replacements are George Parros and Kyle Calder, who was called up yesterday . . . awesome. In Ryan-Koivu-Sexton, Carlyle has a line that he knows has some chemistry and can work. He's then left with Beleskey and Perry, who have worked together and can probably be wrapped around Ryan Carter. I know you've said that Carter deserves a chance at being a second line center before we relegate him to permanent Bottom 6 duty. Well, this would be part of that chance.
Offense will be tough to come by with two of our Top 6 forwards likely out for the next game, and I think that makes a reunion of Ryan, Koivu, and Sexton the best choice Carlyle has. At least he knows this tandem can produce a little offense. There's no telling what will happen with everyone else. Even if only one of the two returns, this line is still the best option. Consistent offensive chances need to come from somewhere, and this is a proven combination.