Corb wrote:Raymond practicing with Hodgson and Hansen. Volpatti out.
Sorry Topper, looks like the rookie's earned a bit of credibility with the coach.
Ya know, that actually doesn't look too bad.
It keeps Hodgson at center, the position he at least knows and can skate in. He will have a pair of very fast wingers, one who has the tenacity of cornered badger on the forecheck in Hansen, and another who is (maybe not initially upon return) even faster than Hansen, and can us his speed to backcheck like a demon. If both wingers go to the net with speed, Hodgson has options because both of those wingers are fast enough to get behind the defense, this will force the defense to back off and give CoHo more room, which means either better looks at the net or better looks at passing lanes. Either way, that line combo gives the strongest puck carrier way more time to work, and it gives the best passer great options to hit on the fly, on the rush, on the breakout, or wheeling through the offensive zone.
However, when you consider this line's weaknesses (see Topper's many posts on Hodgson), if Vigneault puts them out there and wants them to run a cycle game like the top 2 lines do, it's doomed to failure. Neither Hodgson, nor Raymond, are overly strong when having to battle against defenders in the corners or along the boards. Hansen is better than average, but still can be pushed around quite easily by bigger defenders.
I also like that this forces a 4th line of Malhotra-Lapierre-Weiss. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of either of those names on the wing there, but our 4th line now has 2 centers, one who will win most draws, 2 sandpaper players, one who never quits on the puck, and a body willing to hit. If Manny can get it together and start contributing like he was last year before his injury, and Weiss plays the big banging role we expect, it's not bad at all. It's true that they will never be a line that will enforce or intimidate many opponent's with their size, but they will be a line that opponent's can't simply send their own goon squad out against to crash and bang because they are faster and better than any 4th line goon squad in the league.
I still want a bruiser who can keep players like Tootoo, Lucic, S. Thornton, etc. in their place come playoff time.