Monday, November 23, 2009

Six of one, Half dozen of the other

by Anne

In the last three years the Sabres "Top 6" has looked like this:

1. Vanek
2. Connolly
3. Pominville
4. Roy
5 & 6. Stafford, MacArthur, or maybe Hecht. Someone's hurt? Move up Paille. No luck? Ok let's toss Goose up there. Not working? Afinogenov? Kotalik? Maybe Mair for a shift or two? Nah, let's scrap it and start over.

Basically, other than spots 1-4, things have been rather jumbled since Drury and Briere skipped town.

However, this season, the top 6 have basically remained consistent. The only differences were when Stafford was coming back from injury he was testing things out on the 4th line so he wouldn't hurt himself again.

Pominville, Roy, Connolly
Vanek, Stafford, MacArthur
Grier, Ellis, Hecht,
Kennedy, Kaleta, Gaustad
+Paille or Mair, occasionally Paetsch

Looking at the line-ups for the past few games, you can't really disagree about that line of demarcation. No one's crossed it for more than a few shifts except Stafford, but he was an exception. Also, when a top sixer was hurt, instead of moving up a bottom sixer, Lindy brought in Ennis. I like this plan so far. I'm not sure why "Tennis the Menace" (thank you, Drew Stafford) wasn't brought up for Saturday's game instead of playing with eleven forwards.

In these recent goal scoring struggles, does Lindy leave his top 6 and bottom 6 in tact and just try to kick them into high gear? I'm  much happier with the way the boys below that line have played. Does one of them get rewarded for that? Who would get bumped down? If any change were to be made, I think I'd propose switching out Pommer or Vanek and Hecht or maybe Royzie and Kennedy, even if only for practice. Maybe get Gaustad up with Stafford and MacArthur.

Lindy shuffled lines in practice today, but he didn't switch between the groups. The top 6 were still the top 6 and the bottom were still the bottom.

Will Lindy make any switches? Probably not, but if he needs to send a message to a top 6 forward, creating such clear groupings will help him to send those types of messages down the line, even if not right now. If a top 6 player spends just one practice with the bottom 6, that should send a clear message, even without changing the line-ups for a game. It's a mental thing. Mindset is just as important in this game as conditioning.  I like it.

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Glossary... Sort of

  • "Ryan Miller Shutout" - A 58 minute, multi-goal shutout lead that is blown when Miller allows one meaningless goal
  • Britney or SabreBritney - Thomas Vanek
  • Butter Snaps - Carolina Hurricanes. Because Butter Snap pretzels, like the Carolina Hurricanes, are disgusting
  • Greener - MATT Greene (LAK)
  • JBG - Jolly Blonde Giant - Tyler Myers
  • Little Foot - Drew Stafford
  • MK - Anne's sister; often leaves nonsensical comments under her Twitter name Mmmkizzle
  • Oscar - Anne's cat

Because it's never not funny

Completely adorable