D-Day arrives; H-Hour approaches
Last night in Game 1 of the Detroit-Nashville series, Jordin Tootoo once again demonstrated why he is not just a goon but a true depth player. The Arnott line had repeatedly neutralized Detroit’s top trio without obtaining primo scoring chances themselves. Enter the dynamic Tootoo-Bochenski chemistry. Tootoo’s shot from the half wall deflected through Hasek’s five-hole and tied the game.
The Flyers need every ounce of skill and depth available tonight in Washington. That means stars playing at their peak and role players contributing constantly. That means Richards providing a checking line against Ovechkin, Briere & Prospal spending so much time in the offensive zone that there’s no time to earn a minus rating, Carter offering up the laserlike wrist shot at every opportunity, and the Timonen-Coburn pairing eliminating the Capitals’ options. That also means Hartnell agitating the opposition, Upshall generating energy with speed and body checks, Dowd giving defensively responsible performances, and Smith being a warrior on the blue line.
I’ve heard a lot of people suggesting Stevens should assemble a checking line to face Ovechkin. I don’t think that’s necessary. First of all, both Richards and Carter served as checking centers during the regular season. Either one can effectively shut down Ovechkin (though I’ll admit that I’m far more comfortable at this point relying on Richards than Carter).
Second, Stevens rolled four lines all season long, matching defensive pairs to skilled players – stick to what made you successful in the first place. Timonen and Coburn are a true top pairing and are quite capable of neutralizing the best talent the NHL has to offer. Coburn has the added bonus of enough speed to keep pace with Washington’s youth.
The day has dawned. It’s go time.