I believe the Phoenix Coyotes have a decent team and could win more if Wayne Gretzky had his lines better sorted and was more patient in awaiting positive results. Here’s the rundown of the lines from the game last night against the Calgary Flames.
2nd Carcillo-G. Murray-Fedoruk (the centre would normally be Turris. He was a healthy scratch)
Gretzky has a total of four rookies on a given night to work with (Boedker, Turris, Tikonov and Porter) and all of them can play at the NHL level, Porter to me is the only one destined to be outside the top six-level forward. The others are guys who will sooner than later become top six players.
If I'm Wayne Gretzky here's how I handle it. Please keep in mind I am a firm believer that the biggest hindrance to success or at the very least consistent play when you have a lot of young players is this constant changing or shuffling of lines…
I'd rather scratch a young player every now and then as a wake up call than have him one night or one shift as a first liner then play him four minutes on the fourth line with “plumbers”.
1st line: Mueller/Jokinen/Boekder
In my opinion Mikkel Boedker is the best of the four rookies on the Coyotes. He is very good defensively and you always need a defensive minded guy on your top unit.
2nd line: Doan/Hanzal/Carcillo
Carcillo is a pest but he can play. Hanzal is a big, strong kid in the mold of Handzus but better offensively. I think after the rookie year he had last season Gretzky is stifling him by having play third line minutes.
3rd line: Winnik/Turris/Tikonov
Both Tikonov and Turris should play more than 3rd line, but at least the two of them on the same line would allow them to play with OFFENSE in mind.
4th line: Reinprecht/Porter/Fedoruk
Decent 4th line. Reinprecht is an astute player and Porter would get that seasoning he would benefit from for future years.
As coach, I would always allow for a 3—5 game trial to gain chemistry and measure the success and growth of each unit. These line combos have a bit of everything on them. Depth is a huge benefit and the more you can get out of each of your forward units the better off you are.
Wayne was probably the all-time most patient player to ever grace the NHL, but I fear his patience behind the bench is not equal to his playing days.