Monday, August 24, 2009

If I were Eaves...(Forwards)

There is some discussion on the line combination's right now in various places. I gave it my best shot this afternoon.

I think we are going to see Eaves try out numerous like combo's in the first month or two. I know people will disagree with that but I think it's the only way to see how players like Craig Smith and Derek Lee will play at this level. This is also the first year since the championship season where there is going to be at least 2 regular offensive player sitting every night, and not because a player is sitting because of performance issues. I think it's very important that we get AT LEAST 14 forwards regular action to start the season. I don't think we need to have a set lineup until probably the North Dakota series.

I think one of our biggest advantages this season is how strong we are down the middle. In my opinion we have 7 pivots that I'm comfortable playing in the lineup at any time (Street, Geoffrion, Stepan, Thurber, Bendickson, Smith, Dolan). From those 7, only Street, Geoffrion and Stepan are locks to play every night.

Another huge advantage is that like I mentioned earlier, we have probably 14 forwards who would be playing in virtually almost any lineup in the country. Eaves will not be afraid to sit a guy who didn't give it his all during a game or a practice. I think the depth we have this season up front will make every player be on the top of their game with the fear that they could be replaced at any time.

With that said, here is how I would like to see the roster set up, not exactly how I think it will be set up.

Line 1) Bohmbach-Geoffrion-Grotting

Experience, experience, experience. You have 3 veterans to lead off with in this line. All three are seniors and all three have played a lot of games for the Badgers. More important than the experience is that all three of these players are defensively responsible. This like was built more to shut down opposing teams top lines than to score goals. These 3 will still get their points but shutting down players like Jordan Schroeder, Chris VandeVelde, and the Roe/Lasch combo is just as important.

Line 2) Mitchell-Street-Davies

This time I didn't try to pair 3 seniors, it just happened to work that way. The ability for this team to pair 6 senior forwards at the top of the lineup is ridiculous. All 3 of these players have the ability to put up seasons of 30 points. Can you imagine 90 points out of our second line? Last season Davies had 23, Mitchell 26, and Street had 30 in his last full season of action. I worry about this line defensively only a smidge. Davies is the weak link on the defensive side here but Street more than makes up for it.

Line 3) Murray-Stepan-Smith

I'd like to see another team in the nation trot out a third line that is going to match these guys in points. Smith was second in the USHL in scoring last season. Murray is an excellent two way player who when paired with the right players has shown the ability to bury the puck. I think Stepan speaks for himself. He could/should be a first line player in every lineup in the country. I think the way our roster sets up lets us use his ability in this role to our advantage.

Line 4) Dolan/Podge/Johnson-Bendickson-Thurber

Similar to our 4th line in the 06 championship season, this needs to be a line that can play every 4th shift and give us an energy boost. I really tried to get some speed on this line with Thurber and Bendickson. The third spot on this line is going to go to whoever is having the best week at practice. All three of Dolan, Podge, and Patty have played significant minutes in the past.

Extras) Dolan/Podge/Johnson-Lee-Meuer

All of these guys will see some action early in the season. Lee is a guy who will get an opportunity to play this season but it needs to be on a scoring line. Getting minutes up there could be tough for him. Dolan/Podge/Johnson and Meuer will also see minutes. The first three will see more time than Meuer who was brought in for more of a filler to help balance the classes a bit.