directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Whose line is it anyways?

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whose line is it anyways?

Puck-rakers has posted the latest lines used in today's practice:

F1: Rick Nash -- Jason Williams -- Jake Voracek
F2: Kristian Huselius -- Manny Malhotra -- R.J. Umberger
F3: Andrew Murray -- Chris Gratton -- Derek Dorsett
F4: Raffi Torres -- Jiri Novotny -- Jared Boll

They also go on to note that both Michael Peca and Jason Chimera took "maintenance days".

Couple of thoughts here.

* Its definitely time to shake up the Juice/Nash pairing. They have both thrown up some points lately but the chemistry just seems off.

As Hitch mentioned on his radio show today Nash is not driving the net like he does when he's at the top of his game. He's been more of a perimeter guy lately and that's not what, where or how you want our 6'4" 220lb power forward playing.

I really really like the idea of Voracek with him at this point in the season as his game is progressing. He's a natural right wing (which allows Nash to go back to his left wing spot), he's skating well at NHL tempo, he's playing with a lot energy and he's using his vision to make those quick little plays that can free up a guy like Nash to do his thing. Maybe this shakeup sparks Nash's game and renews his energy. Voracek just has to be careful to not force feed any pucks.

* Juice is a guy I think can play with anyone. He knows how to create space and use any linemate given to him. The key for him is to not only shoot to keep his defenders honest, but to hit the net! Make the goalie make a save. He'll be playing with the hottest Jacket offensively in Umberger who is just so damn good around the net and lately the best forward driving the net... Get shots on net and let RJ cleanup up the rebounds or get a redirection.

* Not happy with Manny in the top 6 but who else is there? Manny's job won't change and that is to work hard in all 3 zones, win some key faceoffs and get the puck to the creators.

* Jason Williams quickly finds himself elevated to the first line. Williams as we know can shoot..he can also make a play...but he also gets caught going east/west more often than not and isn't the most efficient back/forechecker . He needs to keep his game north/south.

* My biggest concern w/ the Nash-Williams-Voracek line -- who is the worker? You'd hate to put that on a 19 year old's shoulders but unless this line plays a puck possession style and creates everything off the rush every shift the only guy who has shown enough energy to get deep on a forecheck and work for a turnover is Voracek.

* Chimera with the "maintenance day". Hitch also hinted today on his show that they may "shut him down". Clearly he's still bothered by his groin and Chimera without his speed has been a vastly ineffective player. He needs to rest until he's back to 100% health. No brainer here to me.

* Peca on the other hand I believe will be back in the lineup after taking a day off. Peca has been okay but he's generating next to no offense. He's got 4a in his last 15 games. I suspect he'll be in the lineup tomorrow against one of his former squad's in Edmonton.. probably in the 3rd line center knocking Gratton to the 4th.

* I'd also consider shutting down Torres. Torres has been largely ineffective but a 70% Torres getting 8 minutes a night is probably a better option than a 100% Novotny. Can't be missing open nets at this stage of the season with this much on the line.

* I like Gratton between any of these 3 players: Boll/Dorsett/Murray. This could be a terrific energy line.

* Next question.. how long until Hitch goes back with Nash and Juice if things don't quick immediately with these lines?

I know these lines are always fluid but I really like what Hitch has come up with here and hope he gives them a good run before shaking them back up.

Defensively it looks like the pairs will remain in tact. Commodore and Hejda have hit a rough patch over the last stretch while Tyutin really fought the puck last night... especially on special teams. Those 3 guys are the keys on the blueline and need to get their games cleaned up.

It really looks like the Backman run in a CBJ sweater is coming to a close. Aaron Rome is going to have to really play poorly to lose his roster spot -- this is a fantastic opportunity for him to show he belongs in the NHL for good this time.... let's hope he grabs it and doesn't let go.

Also just a heads up that I'll be live bloggin on deadline day so stop on in throughout the day. It really is one of the best "hockey days" of the year.

You've probably already read it but Howson talks about being a "buyer" in today's Dispatch:

"I believe we have a good chance to get in (the Stanley Cup playoffs) this season," general manager Scott Howson said. "We're not subtracting from our roster, I can tell you that."

"I'll be very surprised if I move a first-round pick," Howson said. "It would have to be a significant player, not just a rental."

No surprise there. Unless its a co-ed like a "Jordan Staal" don't expect any young blue chip assets or 1st round picks to move anywhere.

I voted Jeff Halpren in the poll but if Buffalo makes someone like Tim Connoly available for a 2nd round pick or lower then I really believe Howson has to roll the dice on that player. Antropov leads the way with 28% of the votes but I think Burke will want to much for him which will put Howson out of the running.

For those that want instant trade deadline news -- you can sign up here from for mobile trade alerts.

Finally a programming alert for you.

The 15th ranked hockey Buckeyes will be televised live this Friday on the NHL Network (which I think has a free preview running) against #7 Miami. That game will be in Oxford but the Buckeyes will play them at home the following night at Value City Arena -- the Jackets have that night off so if you don't have plans here you go! I'll certainly be there!


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