Tag: line combinations

Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic

Breaking up is hard to do: Lucic and Horton split up


It was a relationship you never thought would end. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are being split up by Claude Julien in an effort to spark the Bruins and end the days of frustration in Boston.

The Bruins aren’t scoring goals and they need to do something fast to try and spark things. Tonight against Toronto, they’ll roll out there with a brand new set of lines, a group that saw some work together during the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to Carolina the other night. After seeing the way Lucic and Horton (as well as David Krejci) played together in the playoffs last season, it seemed like the kind of trio that would work together forever. A new season has brought new issues, however, and with the Bruins averaging less than two goals per game, changes were necessary.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty breaks down the numbers that Horton and Lucic have put up together this season and they’re less than stellar.

The Bruins are 2-4 in their six games, last in the NHL in goal-scoring, and three points along with a minus-1 out of Horton and Lucic in 12 games. The struggles of Lucic and Horton might not be the biggest problem facing the Black and Gold in their first half-dozen games, but they’re clearly not part of the solution either.

That ain’t good and for Boston they’ll hope that Phil Kessel and the Leafs don’t make them look bad tonight. Potentially working in Boston’s favor is they’ll get to face Jonas Gustavsson in goal for Toronto. The Monster has yet to play this season so it’s an opportune time for the Bruins to snap out of their funk. The Bruins have to hope that Lucic and Horton aren’t too sad after their split. Breaking up is hard to do after all.

Brian Burke says Maple Leafs lines are virtually all set heading into camp

Brian Burke

The Toronto Maple Leafs begin this season hoping to earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. With guys like Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, and Mikhail Grabovski being joined by free agent Tim Connolly there’s hope that the Leafs can fight through a tougher Eastern Conference and crack the postseason.

As the team heads into training camp next week, most of the spots on the team would appear to be close to filled leaving training camp to be not quite so competitive for players seeking to impress coach Ron Wilson as well as Burke. Burke tells James Mirtle of The Globe And Mail that there could be competition going into camp for one starting forward spot and not much else.

“We think we made some changes that have made our team dramatically better,” Burke said. “We made some changes to the coaching staff, we made some changes on the blueline and we made some changes up front. And we think those things will put us in the position where we want to be which is in competition for a playoff spot.”

As for battles for roster spots, they will probably be few and far between.

“If you notice, we’ve left one spot open,” Burke said. “We want some competition for one of the forward spots. Whether that’s Matt Frattin or Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne or whomever, we do want to have some competition open for a spot. Other than that, we think we’ve filled the holes. But we’re going to find that out.”

Depending on where that opening is in the Leafs lineup would help determine who gets the call to fill it. Frattin is more of a physical forward than Colborne or Kadri. Kadri is a slick skating offensively creative guy while Colborne is a big center with some offensive touch.

There’s also the chance that Burke used their three names in particular because he wants them to know right up front that he wants to see big things out of them. They are three of the youngest guys heading into Leafs training camp and they’re guys that all have higher than normal expectations.  Kadri was the Leafs top draft pick back in 2009, Colborne was acquired from Boston last year in the Tomas Kaberle deal and has high potential after being a first round pick of the Bruins in 2008, and Frattin was a fourth round pick of the Leafs in 2007.

Asking your younger guys to step up and show a little more in camp isn’t anything new but with the pressure for younger guys to show they’re NHL-caliber guys so high these days, the Leafs would love to add a bit more offensive production to their other lines. Getting it from any of these three would go over very well in Toronto. If there’s just one starting forward spot to be had the way Burke intimates, the competition that would seem to be lacking could very well turn intense through training camp.

San Jose’s new scoring lines could have heads spinning

Martin Havalt

With it being summer and training camps being just a couple of months away in September, it gives us all stuff to ponder and wonder about. In the case of the San Jose Sharks after their summertime blockbuster overhaul, the subtractions of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi will give the Sharks a distinctly different look up front.

The addition of Martin Havlat to the Sharks in the headline deal for Heatley means the Sharks are going to shift things in ways that only video game players have really known before. After all, when you’ve got two lines of top talent mixing and matching the lines is more fun than anything else.

David Pollak of Working The Corners day dreams a little bit himself and offers up his take on what the top two lines could look like.



Yeah, I thought that Marty Havlat might be penciled in on right wing alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, too. But the idea is to put a speed threat on each of the two lines and that turns into the above set-up — Marleau on one line, Havlat on the other — which also has the benefit of keeping Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe side-by-side.

That’s a more than curious take and one that keeps last year’s Calder Trophy finalist Logan Couture as the center on the second line. That’s a curious move because Sharks GM Doug Wilson had another guy in mind for the centering job on the second line after acquiring Havlat, Brent Burns, as well as Michal Handzus through free agency.

“When we did the (Brent) Burns deal, we got the top-line defenseman we were looking for, but we lost some of the speed we need in our top-six forwards,” Wilson said. “We could move Joe Pavelski into our top six, which is where he belongs anyway, and we were able to fill his spot when he signed (Michal) Handzus, but we still didn’t have the speed guy we needed.”

Pavelski centering the second line would mean putting Couture on the wing and then finding someone else to play on the right wing with Marleau and Thornton. That’s where Martin Havlat would likely fit in well, but with Havlat being more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, that would make a line of Marleau-Thornton-Havlat lean heavily on Marleau to do the heavy lifting scoring goals. That said, with that much talent it’s tough to feel bad for the Sharks and when you can set up lines that look like this, sympathy will be hard to find:



The curious part of this arrangement is that of those six players, four of them are capable of playing center in Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski, and Couture. One thing is for sure in San Jose, they’re going to score plenty of goals and regardless of what arrangement they opt to go with, they figure to be at or near the top of the Western Conference again in 2011-2012.