Like the great Rip Van Winkle who awoke from a great slumber, Tom Renney woke up today and decided to shake up his lines and break up the fabled tic-tac-toe combination of Nylander, Straka and Jagr. Buoyed by the addition of Sean Avery, Renney has decided with twenty eight games to go, and the team wallowing in eleventh place that it is time for some changes. Is this a death bed admission?
The new lines are Hossa-Krog-Jagr; Avery-Nylander-Shanahan; Straka-Cullen-Ortmeyer and Prucha-Betts-Hollweg. Of course, one has to wonder what the hell is Prucha doing on the fourth line. However, the other changes seem positive, at least through the first couple of shifts or until Renney reverts to old habits. But lets not be negative. The most interesting change is the complete breakup of the Jagr, Straka, Nylander line. In some sense Jagr playing with Hossa and Krog may make him more freewheeling than he has been this year. That is when Jagr is at his best. Also Shanahan has finally gotten a center who will be able to pass him the puck, Nylander. And Shanahan also gets daredevil Avery on the other wing to create some energy and havoc.
The third line has speed to spare and Betts returns to a more normal position, fourth line center as Cullen becomes the third line center. One other note is than Cullen is penciled in at the point on one of the power play units, a position he filled quite ably with Carolina last year. It remains to see how long Renney sticks with this and how the lines perform defensively to the wide open speed game that Tampa Bay plays.
These changes all came about because of the addition of Sean Avery and it remains to be seen if he is the real deal or if the other night was a one game abberation. Let us hope it is the real deal as the titanic is sinking fast.
From Elisha Cuthbert's blog at NHL.com:
My name is Elisha Cuthbert, born in Calgary, Alberta, but raised in Montreal, Quebec. Growing up in Canada opened my eyes to the world of hockey. My brother plays on two teams -- his school and city. My mother plays on a team as well. I, on the other hand, am just an actress who loves the sport and does not play -- but that doesn't mean I can't talk about it!