Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Line Juggling with the Return of Modin

After watching the last couple weeks of Blue Jackets hockey, it becomes rather clear that a change is necessary to motivate the players. Their play has been subpar, and their motivation has been all but non-existent. Sometimes players need to feel the press of another competitive forward, ready to sweep in and steal their roster stop.

Enter Frederick Modin.

After a myriad of injuries and a miserable couple of years, he is finally coming close to playing condition. He competed well with the rest of the team in an hours worth of practice recently, and the outlook is very positive for one of the next three games. Now, it is well known around my circle that my criticisms of Modin have been relentless, even when healthy. His play on the puck is quite strong, but his lazy attitude while not on the puck needs some serious reworking, especially considering he is a veteran.

That being said, I can think of a few players on the Jackets roster I would love to replace with a healthy Modin. Mike Blunden seems outclassed in the NHL right now, making small but consistent mistakes on a nightly basis, and would do well to return to Syracuse for more conditioning. Jason Chimera is great with his speed, but has rarely used it of late, and has been the cause of many Blue Jackets turnovers. Even MacKenzie, who has seemed to be one of the more consistent players on the latter lines, could be removed for the boost in talent. The problem is, once Modin is on board, where does he fit in?

I have thrown together an assumptive line combination based on how I believe Hitchcock will react to his return;

Huselius - Vermette - Nash
Voracek - Umberger - Modin
Torres - Pahlsson - Dorsett
Boll - Brassard - Chimera

A couple of notes: Umberger should not be playing center, and it is really quite unfortunate that Hitch wants to go that route considering how deep the team is at that position. While his ability to get physical is higher than Brassard's, it is a waste of talent to place Brassard on the fourth line, which should focus on pyhsical play and neutral zone attack.

Here is my preferred lineup;

Huselius - Vermette - Nash
Voracek - Brassard - Modin
Torres - Umberger - Dorsett
Boll - Pahlsson - Chimera

I am really excited about these pairings. That being said, it would have to be generated in a system where the top two lines play talent based hockey, and the bottom two lines play the Hitchcock 'crash em and bash em' hockey he is so famous for. By allowing the skilled lines to work the puck and try for the fancy passing, chemistry and excitement will build within Nationwide. If games are lost, at least fans will be treated to a level of talent that is currently being masked under a tired system. The Torres, Umberger, and Dorsett line really excites me. It will make teams top lines shudder at the thought of facing them, and they are all talented enough to bury the puck if an opportunity arises.

Hitch can make this team work, but he needs a three dimensional view of his talent.

Carry the Flag!

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