While Teemu Selänne nurses a nasty injury inflicted by his own skate blade, Anaheim Ducks fans are collectively scratching their heads in anticipation of seeing the team's new line combinations.
The men on the Ducks' coaching staff are among the NHL's worst offenders when it comes to line-combination indecision. There have not been consistent lines in Anaheim since June 6, 2007—the last game of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals.
Since then, almost every Ducks game has been a capricious garden of line-juggling delights, with two checking-line forwards in every pot. The only certainty is that whomever is playing with Ryan Getzlaf is on "line one" and whomever is playing with George Parros is on "line four."
There will not be any consistency in the forward combinations for Monday's game against Vancouver. In fact, the combinations are likely to change several times per period.
But maybe there's no need to worry. After all, even if Brendan Morrison is skating with new wingers in every period, the coaching staff will be keeping their eyes open for a good combination they can use "next time."
Problem is, "next time" never comes. Consistency is no longer a virtue in the Ducks' organization.
Now that Andrew Ebbett has been recalled from Iowa, the question is not so much about where he will play, but about where everyone else will play.
It's probably safe to say that Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson, and Rob Niedermayer will play together. Beyond that, little is certain. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will stay where they are. But Chris Kunitz, the only other skill player on the Ducks' roster, could hop around to several different locations.
Ebbett is technically a skill player, but he is also an AHL skill player who is relatively untested in NHL waters. Randy Carlyle's interpretation: he's a rookie. Carlyle is not fond of rookies, particularly ones named Bobby Ryan.
Nothing wrong with a little freshman-year hazing. But in a season where the team has struggled to assemble two decent even-strength lines, Carlyle's benchings and line juggling can be detrimental to the entire team—not exclusively to the player to whom he is trying to make a point.
When a player is benched, at least one other player needs to double-shift. That means two things for the double-shifter: more minutes, and unfamiliar linemates.
In last week's column I wrote that chemistry is exaggerated as a necessity for a line, and that calculated changes in line combinations can be a good thing. Benching and double-shifting are not examples of calculated changes.
Regardless, don't be surprised if Ebbett finds himself warming the middle of the bench by the end of the second period.