James O'Brien

Changing on the Go

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Line Changes: Galla-hurt

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Apologies for the later-than-usual posting time for Changing on the Go. To make up some of the difference, I’ll limit the shenanigans and dilly-dallying.


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-- Ryan Getzlaf considers himself a game-time decision for Tuesday, so it sounds like the Ducks’ lines won’t be weird for too long (maybe not even the night this column is posted). That said, they’re a little funky, especially if you consider the first line Nick Ritchie - Antoine Vermette - Ondrej Kase (don't do that).


If they stay as planned, it's an awfully interesting opportunity for Joseph Cramarossa, who is slated to be on a line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry.


Cramarossa, 24, was the 65th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. He's quietly played 30 games already this season, scoring three goals and four assists while piling up 37 PIM. He seems like a semi-reliable source of penalty minutes (though not enough to really force his way onto a roster), if nothing else. He's averaged 10:19 TOI and has frighteningly bad possession numbers, so I'm guessing that Ducks fans are rooting for this alignment to be short-lived.


Again, it might not last much at all if Getzlaf can play on Tuesday.


-- No Jamie Benn for the Stars on Tuesday, so it continues the experiment of having Jiri Hudler with Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin. Hudler scored his first goal of the season (and a game-winner) the other night, a timely tally in a weird contest that broke the Stars' three-game losing streak in typically messy style.


I actually quite like the other lines in Dallas' top nine, at least while weighing the devastating loss of Benn:


Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves

Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp


Not bad, right? I'd be curious to see how things shape up when Benn can return, which hopefully happens soon. That's actually a pretty decent spread of talent, at least for a team that's still wading through the muck of mediocrity.


-- With Brendan Gallagher sidelined about eight weeks thanks to the friendly fire caused by Shea Weber's wicked slapper, the Canadiens ... sure seem like they're going to be deeply dependent upon a handful of players, such as the top line of Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Alexander Radulov. Oh yeah, and a lot of Carey Price.


On the bright side, Montreal's mostly finished with a brutal schedule and came out with a lot of standings points. Guess they're really good?


-- The Predators are in a bind with James Neal on IR, although I do kind of like the third line of Kevin Fiala, Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith. Still, as much as I love shouting "Harry Z!," it's not the greatest sign when Harry Zolnierczyk is in your lineup. It's quite the jabroni trio of Frederick Gaudreau, Harry Z and Pontus Aberg, even by fourth-line standards.


So, yeah, pretty worried about the Preds right now.


-- The latest sign that Detroit is getting a little healthier: Mike Green is expected to be back in action. He's likely to form a top pairing with Danny DeKeyser ... and then it gets pretty ugly for the Red Wings after that. Probably wise for them to bottom out at this point, eh?


-- I know a lot of folks want to make The Story of the Florida Panthers a battle between traditional thinkers and "eggheads," but I find myself tempted to throw out much of the 2016-17 season on account of their absurd rash of injuries. That might not be especially satisfying to those who want you to "rub some dirt on it," but seriously, not a ton of teams can battle this many ailments and pass such tests with flying colors.


Losing Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau is a big enough deal, but the Panthers are also dealing with injuries to Denis Malgin (on a controversial Pavel Zacha hit) and funny-named, sad-situation'ed Greg McKegg.


Jaromir Jagr becomes that much more important, as he's lining up with a game Vincent Trocheck to see if Jared McCann can bring something to the table. At least, that's the look of things for now.


-- Both Andy Greene and Yohann Auvitu are on IR for the Devils, making for a pretty appalling top six in New Jersey:


Jon Merrill - Ben Lovejoy

Kyle Quincey - Damon Severson

Seth Helgeson - Steven Santini


Can't really blame the Devils if they want to just dumb things down and hope highly capable goalie Cory Schneider can just keep them in games. That's a pretty abysmal group of blueliners.


-- Got to see a Tampa Bay Lightning game last week, and while the team looked shaky (though the 6-1 win for Nashville was misleading), the stuff that stood out to me was the audience itself. So young! Is that a typical thing at Bolts games?


Anyway, their injury list continues to be large, but many of those issues are day-to-day, so I'd recommend keeping an eye on Rotoworld NHL News updates to see if some key guys like Brian Boyle are on the way back. Could be very soon.


-- Patrik Laine's concussion is the latest evidence that "Uh oh everyone, 2017's probably going to be pretty bad, too." At least if you base the quality of your years on outside factors.


For now, it seems like Drew Stafford's getting a chance to redeem himself, as he's on a solid line with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. It also looks like Bryan Little's good to go, which makes for a very nice second line with Mathieu Perreault and Blake Wheeler. Is that all enough to make the Jets less depressing? Maybe a little bit.



James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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