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Help Wanted: Selanne Needs a Center

The second line needs a lift. Question is: who will give it to them, Bruce Boudreau or Bob Murray?


It seems like everything has been going well this season for the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf is back to his old self, bottom six forwards are pitching in offensively, the defense is holding its own, and two different goaltenders are winning hockey games. Most important, they've been finding ways to win games even when they're not playing that well.

But we're all fans here, and we can't help but notice the things that aren't going quite as well. We want this team to do as well as it possibly can, and the only way to improve is to notice what isn't working and fix it. And the thing that isn't working right now is the second line.

Teemu Selanne has 17 points in 23 games, which doesn't sound bad at all. Trouble is, he's had two four-point nights and a three-point night, meaning he has put up a total of six points in his other 20 games. In his last ten games he has just two points, and none in his last four.

G A P +/- PIM
2012 - Teemu Selanne 6 11 17 0 4

Anyone who's been watching this year knows that Selanne still has the speed and he still knows how to get open. A big part of the problem has been who he is playing with. I don't mean to pick on Nick Bonino here, because he has exceeded expectations this year by becoming a regular NHL player who looks like he really belongs at this level. His hat trick against Los Angeles and his shooutout prowess speak for themselves, and he plays a much better all-around game than he did a year ago.

G A P +/- PIM
2012 - Nick Bonino 5 5 10 -5 8

But there is a big difference between being an NHL regular and being the right center for Teemu Selanne. Bonino has only assisted on two of Selanne's goals, one of which was an empty netter, and Selanne hasn't assisted on any of Bonino's. Take a look at Selanne's three big nights this season, and you won't see much of Bonino.

  • Three of Selanne's four points in Vancouver came on the power play. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan were on the ice for each of those three points.
  • When Selanne scored three points against Minnesota, he was skating on a line with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Pamlieri. Two of his points came at even strength with those two players, and the other point came on the power play with Ryan Getzlaf also on the ice.
  • All four of Selanne's points in St. Louis came at even strength, with Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu as his linemates.

And Bonino's big night against the Kings? His first two goals came at even strength while skating between Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelley, and his third was on the power play.

In past years, Selanne has been successful skating with Koivu as his center. But Koivu has been playing very well on the third line this season, and Bruce Boudreau's philosophy of spreading the firepower throughout his lines has been paying off.

Bobby Ryan, who has skated alongside Selanne for most of the year, is now with the top line again because of the injury to Kyle Palmieri. When Palmieri is able to return to the lineup, I expect Boudreau will put either him or Ryan on the left side of Bonino and Selanne. And then I'm sure he will tinker and tinker and tinker, like he always does.

But if Selanne and his line still are not scoring, is it worth swapping out Bonino for Koivu and in doing so reducing the offensive threat and defensive responsibility of the third line? And what about the possibility of a trade? If Perry doesn't resign before the trade deadline, would Bob Murray consider moving him for a playmaking center? The name Mike Ribeiro has been tossed about. Or what about trading either Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth? You can win a Stanley Cup with one goalie, can't you?

Personally, I'm not inclined to go trading away some of our best assets in exchange for an experiment on the second line. And if the Ducks keep winning up to the deadline, I doubt Bob Murray would be keen on pulling the trigger on a big deal. But the second line's slow pace as of late is something to keep an eye on.

So what do you think? Juggle the lines, make a trade, or just stay the course and see what happens?