I'm pondering whether or not Steve Yzerman , in another time known as 'Stevie Y ' or 'Stevie Wonder ', will construct his lines for the sole purpose of overwhelming his opponents with firepower or will he build his lines in order to incorporate chemistry, having players complement each other on the ice.
I would go with the chemistry angle.
I'll start off with agreeing with Don Cherry that the line of Marleau-Thornton-Heatley should remain intact.
Saturday night, on Hockey Night in Canada 's 'Coach's Corner ', Cherry chatted about San Jose's 6-3 win over the Flyers where Dany Heatley had a hat trick, Joe Thornton collected four assists and Patrick Marleau potted his 14th goal of the season. 'The Don ' made a recommendation to Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, the man with the responsibility of assembling the 2010 Olympic men's hockey powerhouse.
"Stevie Yzerman, I would suggest that this is your number one line, they're top three in the five scoring [leaders]. How could you get anyone else but Jumbo Joe, Heatley and Marleau?"
Really, how can you dispute it?
The game showcased five of the NHL's top 10 scorers. It was a good night to watch hockey.
Think about the chemistry. The Olympics is a short tournament. You need to have results. Instantly. There isn't a whole lot of time available to test line combinations. Granted, some players may gel more quickly than others, but for the most part, it's basically a shot in the dark.
As opposed to sending our best individual players, I believe we should send our best line combinations. The trial and error period is skipped, and there can be instant results from the individuals working as a cohesive unit. Talk about getting a step ahead of the competition.
I don't believe for a minute that the members of this year's Team Canada want to see a repeat of 2006. Nor does the nation as a whole. We are a proud country, and we want to see the best on-ice product available.
It is a foregone conclusion that I have ZERO chance of being asked to select the players that I think should play in Vancouver in 2010. There is no disputing that. I want to make a case for why I believe this is how it should look, and why.
Now I have no doubt that Yzerman, with Ken Holland as his aid [now that sounds different] will make the right choices. But here's what I would shoot for.
Anyone can put together a team of scorers provided they have access to said players. But it takes a special kind of mind to recognize the chemistry that certain teammates share.
Speaking of brilliant hockey minds, was Scotty Bowman asked to be a consultant to the GM? Just a thought.
This is the overall look of the team that I would ice in Vancouver.
LINE ONE —Jarome Iginla—Sidney Crosby—Rick Nash
Here's your primary goal scoring line. There probably aren't a lot of people that would dispute this. Unless, of course, you believe Heatley should be on the wing of LINE ONE . [see LINE TWO ]
LINE TWO —Patrick Marleau—Joe Thornton—Danny Heatley
Now here's where we see how works chemistry first-hand. All three are top five in points. Again, Heatley leads the league in goals, and Marleau is tied for fifth. He is also on the number one penalty unit on the number one penalty kill in the league: 94.4 percent at home and 85.0 percent overall. Thornton leads all players in assists. A line made in heaven. It would be hard to break this line up.
LINE THREE —Jeff Carter—Ryan Getzlaf—Corey Perry
I know that there is no science to my logic, but it just looks and feels so natural . My mouth is watering just thinking of the possibilities...think...MAGIC.
I will admit, I am undecided about the forth line. I agree that this team should be constructed as a 'real' team, such as one you would put together in the NHL. If that's the case, I would have to go with:
LINE FOUR A —Brenden Morrow—Mike Richards—Shane Doan/Jonathan Toews
But, if I were putting a line together on a 'scoring' team, I might try:
LINE FOUR B —Martin St.Louis—Vincent Lecavalier—Steven Stamkos
Now, I am prepared to take some face washings for this, as well as for my defensive pairings.
PAIRING ONE —Scott Niedermayer—Dan Boyle
PAIRING TWO —Jay Bouwmeester—Robyn Regehr
PAIRING THREE —Duncan Keith—Brent Seabrook
PAIRING FOUR —Shea Weber—Mike Green
Pronger [I left him out of a pairing as he could take some dumb costly penalties, but he will most definitely make one of the top two pairings]
Now with PAIRINGS ONE and FOUR I went with pure talent, but with PAIRINGS TWO and THREE I chose chemistry. Use it when and where you can, Steve.
1 Martin Brodeur
I don't think many would dispute the fact that Brodeur is still 'The MAN ' on Team Canada. How can you not go with him.
2 Roberto Luongo
Luongo is on the perimeter until Brodeur is no longer 'The MAN '.
3 Marc—Andre Fleury
Fleury has been solid the last few seasons, and even though he won't see any action, his time is coming.