What’s my Line?

Today’s article in the Vancouver Sun is the type of nonsense you expect from band wagon fans.  I’m just surprised it came from a columnist in the Sun.

Here’s the lines as quoted in this article as potentially playing together this year.

Line 1: Cooke, Morrison, Naslund

Line 2: D. Sedin, H. Sedin, Bulis

Line 3: Pyatt, Kesler, Burrows

Line 4: Green, Chouinard, Linden

First of all, the Sedin line is not the second line, especially if your considering putting Cooke and Morrison on the supposed top line.  As a center, Henrik has already surpassed Morrison’s top year in points with 74 (Morrison’s career high is 71).  And that’s after Morrison has been playing with two of the best wingers in the league over the past 4 seasons. 

You’ll see that these two lines will be getting very similar time on the ice this year.  That may in part depend on whether or not the Sedins end up playing on the penalty kill again as they did for the first time last year. 

It looks like I was wrong in my initial prediction that Bulis was not signed to play with the Sedins, he now looks destined to at least be given full opportunity to make it work there.  I’m still a bit surprised Nonis didn’t bring in a right handed winger for them, although, they can be difficult to find in the NHL.

But, it’s really the rhetoric about Matt Cooke being on the top line that’s getting to me right now.

I’ve heard nothing from the team coaches or GM’s about giving this a shot.  In fact, the coaches elected to ship Matt Cooke along with the restof the rookies to Calgary for their first preseason game, seperating him from all the players expected on the top offensive lines.  It seems to simply be propaganda pushed out by the media, Matt Cooke, Brendan Morrison, & Markus Naslund. 

Do you see an issue with this?  Naslund and Morrison are trying to influence Vigneault’s decision on who plays on their wing.  It’s ridiculous.  Reminds me of Steve Shields coming onto the radio in Vancouver to say he’d like to backup Roberto Luongo again.  Good luck Steve, Nonis has a better hockey mind that to fall prey to your lobbying for a job in the media.  Same to you Matt Cooke.

You weren’t good enough in 2004 to play on the top line, and nothing has changed since then.

He wasn’t good enough despite what people say about his ability to mesh on the top line with Naslund and Morrison.  Think about it, after losing to Calgary in 2004 the general feeling was that the Canucks would have won that round with Bertuzzi in the line-up.  Cooke filled in for him and the Canucks didn’t make it.  That’s all there is to write about that story.

Add to that Matt Cooke’s top output even on a number one line is limited to about 55 points, you need to consider your other options.  It reminds of the Toronto Maple Leafs continually putting Darcy Tucker into the offensive role, but at the same time Toronto fans continue to complain about not having enough talent to skate with Sundin.  So which is it?  Is Tucker talented enough or not? 

He’s not, and neither is Matt Cooke.

So, here’s some better options for you to consider.  But first of all realize one thing.  The forward group is not broken into four lines, but rather two groups of two lines.  Meaning, you’re going to have two lines of offense and two lines for defense and the lines within each group will likely play a similar number of minutes.

A Better Option

Offensive Line A: Pyatt, Morrison, Naslund

Offensive Line B: D. Sedin, H. Sedin, Bulis

Defensive Line A: Cooke, Chouinard, Burrows

Defensive Line B: Green, Kesler, Linden

The point is that Bulis was signed to be an offensive option.  Pyatt was brought in as he has the ability to be a breakout player, and the timing is right for this.  If Pyatt doesn’t cut it, then there are some prospects that could find a fit on the team as an offensive threat.  Try moving Bulis to the Naslund line and put a pylon with the Sedins.  They’re getting so good, they could give it 20 goals this year.  Using a prospect might end up suprising you with 25 or 30.

But clearly, Cooke is not the best option to play in that type of role at this point in the season despite his own lobbying for this job.

The Chief Canuck

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