Any hockey player must have nightmares of a time where his or her coach would scream the words “CHANGE IT UP” onto the rink. Line changes are an integral part of the game, because it’s important to match talent and to keep legs fresh. However, we are not talking about that type of line change today – more like the juggling of players from line x to line xx.
Looking back to the start of the season, the line of “The New Boys” was on fire out of the gate. For those that do not remember, this line consisted of Mike Comrie centering Ruslan Fedotenko and Bill Guerin. Their line was responsible for a tremendous amount of points at the time – which really drove the experts crazy, as they picked those 3 to greatly under perform. Then came the blow out loss to Toronto and Ted Nolan began tinkering with the lines to find a better match. The team responded with a better effort, but eventually the new line combinations would go cold – even with Sean Bergenheim returning and the call-up of forward Jeff Tambellini. When I say cold, I mean ice cold. The Islanders are in the midst of a span of 12 games where they have scored no more than 2 goals a game.
Heading into tonight’s rematch with the Atlanta Thrashers – the team will have that “original” feel from the start of the season, although it will have a new face or two thrown in. Here are tonight’s combos:
Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Sillinger, Andy Hillbert, Trent Hunter (The “Shutdown” Line)
Miroslav Satan, Josef Vasicek, Jeff Tambellini
Richard Park, Chris Simon, Sean Bergenheim
Hopefully, being on a road trip, coupled with a team looking for revenge from a bad loss Saturday, and because the players fathers or mentors will be accompanying them on the trip – will make this team fired up and play up to the level they were a few weeks ago.
I don’t have any problem with moving players here and there – but you can only do so much with what you have sometimes. I am beginning to get the feeling that the organization will not sit by as the offensive output of this team continues to struggle. The Christmas trade freeze is fast approaching, so you never know if a small roster move could pave the way for some changes down the road.
I really hope that Comrie snaps out of whatever funk he is in, it seems for the last several games he has not communicated with his linemates very well, passed to the opposition or just made poor puck decisions in general. We really need him to be that number one center right now – which is one of the keys to a successful game tonight.