Proposal for Lindy Ruff: Buffalo Sabres Opening Day Lineup
The Sabres have had a busy offseason with some impressive moves.
The additions of Ehrhoff and Ville Leino should add some firepower on the power play and create better team chemistry respectively. I believe Leino has the playoff experience and the fiery play that denotes leadership and wouldn't be surprised if he adorns the "C" this season.
The following proposed lineup will likely not be well received, however, I believe I can make an interesting case for some intriguing line combinations.
Looking to the Sabres' previous years under Lindy Ruff, I hope he continues to divide his talent over four lines. We have seen Roy Vanek Stafford for years, and there's just not chemistry.
I think the tail end of last year should prove that to anyone. Without further ado, I give to you four forward lines, three defensive pairings and two strong in goal.
Line Alpha: Nathan Gerbe Ville Leino Patrick Kaleta
Don't get upset yet because the other lines I concocted will likely upset you more. But hear me out.
Ville just came from a line with Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell—I shouldn't have to say any more than that—this seems like a perfect way for Leino to transition to the Sabres.
I don't think I need to compare Briere and Gerbe, nor should I have to debate the Hartnell Kaleta resemblance. For those of you who doubt Gerbes ability to produce like Briere, 2 Goals 5 Seconds...
However, Kaleta should make for a better distraction, and I believe has much more offensive upside than Hartnell making this line work just as well as Philly's predecessor.
Gerbe and Leino should be able to gain some great scoring chances when the other team focuses on Kaleta, and I believe they have the ability to finish.
I also think this would be a monumental compliment for Gerbe giving him Briere's former line-mate and give him something to live up too. Patrick should also see clearly he is seen as an important player and needs to contribute offensively.
This would probably be my favorite line to watch. Gerbe would be able to run free having an enforcer out there to watch his back.
This is not meant to be a first line but this is under the assumption lines will roll and ice-time will be spread across all lines near equally.
Line Beta: Tyler Ennis Derek Roy and Jason Pominville
Again, call me crazy, but I just don't seen the chemistry between Roy and Vanek.
Again, look to last year's finale, there is no need to put your best players together just because they are your best. I for one would love to see Ennis and Roy on the same line.
I think both players are eccentric yet work well and read each other correctly. After the other team gets sick of these two beating them, that should free up a lane for Pommers to put some points up.
Jason can definitely find scoring lanes, and with Roy or Ennis feeding him, Jason could be in for a career year. If Roy and Ennis can open the scoring, Jason can put it away and close it out.
Plus, Pommers is a great two-way forward and could be very useful when Roy and Ennis get dizzy from flying all over the offensive zone for long periods on end.
This seems to be a logical and a quality line just like the first. And again not for sure a first line nor would it be a third line, so far two second lines.
Line Gamma: McCormick/Kassian Paul Gaustad Drew Stafford
This one was tough for me and I expect probably the most scrutinized. Again hear me out.
If these players are put on the ice together, it could turn out great in multiply ways. Obviously, Goose is good on the draw, and it should be obvious that Cody's job is to get the puck to Stafford or on net.
Goose is great in front of the net, and Cody may get some great shots if the goalie and defense is focused on Goose and Stafford. Also, if the other team sleeps on this line, Stafford's the type of player to pick up another hat trick, so in a tight game, this line could be the difference maker.
I don't see the most amazing chemistry with Roy or Vanek, and we've been down that road before. Let's try something new and put some pressure on Stafford to carry his own line and see what develops.
This may not make it as a first or second line overall but definetly has scoring potential and would be a handful to deal with.
Again, sleep on this line and the game could be over.
Line Delta: Thomas Vanek Luke Adam Brad Boyes
I understand this may need a little, uh, explanation. Bringing up a rookie center and placing him with an elite goal scorer seems far fetched, even for me.
However, Leino's use to playing with a speedy small forward, Vanek and Roy seem almost poisonous together, and you can't stick Vanek with Goose because of flow. I think Adam would be a successful attribute to Vanek, and to make it a little more dangerous, Brad Boyes for backup.
I think putting Luke on a line with Vanek would go a long ways in making this center the real deal. Also, if Brad gets a line with Vanek, it will be obvious he has to step his game up not only to keep Vaneks respect but also to help cover for the rookie.
I think this would be great for all three and would give Vanek the spotlight, support and room he needs to excel. This line would consist of 3 great shooters.
I think Adam did not live up to expectations last year, but there were numerous near misses where he was in place just missed the deflection or shot. I think with a little more experience to the speed of the NHL, more ice-time will enable Adam to make the jump and make it well.
This has the potential to be a lethal line and could be a No. 1 line most nights.
In forward retrospect, Lindy has favored dividing his talent, and I think if he keeps that up it could prove his most valuable decision next year.
Split them up and roll four lines, keep them rolling. It's a long season, and it's too difficult to rely on one line for an entire year to carry a team and then all the way the playoffs.
Each of the following four lines should be defensively responsible and an obvious scoring threat and with balanced lines you can achieve balanced ice time and wear on other teams relying on two or three lines, game in and game out.
If you were playing the Sabres which line would you focus your shut-down line on?
Gerbe - Leino - Kaleta
Ennis - Roy - Pominville
McCormick/Kassian - Gaustad - Stafford
Vanek - Adam - Boyes
Each line contains a natural proven scorer and a solid secondary shooter or garbage collector. And next year if Kassian replaces McCormick then we would be very close to having four decent first lines.
Will the chemistry work out as I believe, that's hard to say but I would love to see these lines next year. If you keep the lines rolling all four of these lines could be very effective and difficult to contain.
I believe we could even see a large number of blow-out games next season, with a proven scorer on all four lines offense should not be an issue.
Most importantly, these lines should make all the players want to step up their game.
Defense Defense Defense
Ref #25 - "Tyler, its ok plays over" " Ref # 50 - "STOP hurting him"
Miller #30 - " Pile On Pylon ! "
To keep this from getting too lengthy, and because there's more things to complain about with the forwards, I'm going to place all the defensive pairings on this slide.
Tyler Myers - Robyn Reghier
Christian Ehrhoff - Jordan Leopold
Marc-Andre Gragnani/ Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber
That puts one offensive defenseman on each line with a defensive defenseman.
I can't pick Grags over Sekera or vice-versa. Sekera can take over a game, and Grags put on the best play off performance we could ask of him.
Either way, we should have three strong defensive lines with offensive abilities. Currently the roster boasts 8 capable d-men (Morrison)
Ryan Miller and Jonas Enroth
Obviously Ryan will be the starter, and hopefully Enroth will be able to stay and provide a quality backup.
So what do you think, is this an acceptable lineup for next season? Lindy will no doubt change lines here and there, but I hope we get to at least see these ad-hoc offensive lines.
I know this may not be realistic, but what do you think? Could you see Stafford carrying a line and getting 30 goals w/ Gaustad & McCormick?
Is there any way Luke Adam could be significant between Boyes & Vanek - Could Vanek get Boyes back to 30-40 goals?
Could Gerbe set the hockey world on fire playing with Kaleta & Leino?
Are Roy & Ennis great together?