As the Ducks' compete level dipped tonight, Carlyle went back to the shuffle. As it is the coach's way to neither suffer failure nor fail to use every card in the shoe, you have to wonder how deep the shuffle could get moving forward.
Arthur, there's a couple million sitting in the press box. Should Carlyle bring Andy Sutton back into the lineup at forward, maybe even the blueline, or should he just leave him where he is?
I say leave him where he is. Carlyle probably won't. But he should.
This lineup can find a way. There really isn't a Sutton-shaped void in it. Sbisa put a huge hit on Ebbett out there. Shotblockers suddenly abound. And Winchester and Ruutu provide the size and grit you might add with a Sutton.
I think we all hoped for big moves when free agency opened, maybe a pair of defensemen that everyone was buzzing about. Maybe a Hamhuis and a Martin. Murray went with Lydman and Sutton, two defensemen people weren't buzzing about quite as heavily. Lydman paid off well. Sutton didn't. That's why he upgraded to Beauchemin. So, logically, even in the sense of how this team was constructed from free agency to trade deadline, there's no reason to put Sutton back in. Still, I fear we'll see him again.
Sutton needs to stay in the press box. I feel bad for the guy. He was rounding into form, and then the Ducks went and got Beauchemin back. It's not Sutton's fault that Murray suffers from frequent bouts with ineptitude. Having said that, the Ducks need to find a way to qualify for the playoffs with THIS team. Sbisa and Fowler need this experience to prepare them to lead the blue line in the future. Sexton and McMillan need to play together again and fully develop the chemistry they've started to show. Koivu and Selanne need to continue to carry Jason Blake, and the top line needs to be the top line.
Personally, I think this blueline has something it hasn't had in years, a complete set of pairings. Lydman and Lubo have been great all year. Beauchemin and Sbisa are really coming together, and Fowler and Lilja have and will work well together. I know that Fowler has been struggling, and the instinct might be to scratch him, just so he knows what it's like to watch from the press box for a poor performance. I think that's the wrong call. Fowler is the defender of the future for this team, and he needs to be allowed to work through every failure, just as he was praised for his successes. Sorry Sutton, but there just isn't a good reason to put you on the ice for the rest of the season.