Earlier in the week, we showed you two of the possible line combinations with Mike Fisher back in the lineup. Here’s Part 2, with a bonus lineup in case David Poile busts out the magic wand.
Line Combination 3
Despite the first two lines being switched up a little, those six could definitely produce in that combination. Fiala has not played very often with this first line combination, but in the Predators February 10th game in Montreal, Arvy, Joey and Kevin showed flashes of what could be a jaw-dropping line when April rolls around.
Not only is it intriguing having a top 6 line with two quick wingers with a lot of spunk and fight in them, but having the other top 6 line fill itself with a pair of two-way snipers at the wing has deadly potential. Forsberg and Turris have proven themselves as top 6 forwards for the foreseeable future, and they may be the spark Calle Jarnkrok needs to get his scoring touch back.
The third line, which has the reunion of former linemates Craig Smith and Mike Fisher, is much more of an enforcing line than it is goal-scoring. Hartnell and Fisher will do whatever they deem necessary to stand up for their teammates, and they’ll lay the same kinds of hits in order to keep the puck in the offensive zone. On the shot-taking side of things, this line will still be able to put pucks on net, and probably score a few if Smith can find his shooting touch again.
As for the fourth line, Bonino is in his regular position at center. Sure, it’s the fourth line center, but I think that speaks volumes about this team’s depth at center (the exact opposite of what they had last year). As for the wings, hybrid forward Colton Sissons is producing career-high numbers in ice time, blocked shots, assists and points. He is also 3 goals away from setting a career-high single-season goal total. Obviously, none of these numbers he is putting up are anything to do a double take at, but it does show that he has what it takes to be an everyday active player in this lineup and is extremely valuable on the 4th line.
As for Salomaki, he has not been anything special this year, but he is there to keep the puck in the zone, block shots and score if the opportunity arises. And if he doesn’t produce, there are 3 healthy scratches that can fill in for him.
As productive as those top 6 lines can possibly be, I’m not entirely sure that they are better combinations than the JoFA and FiTS lines.
Also, there is not any place where Austin Watson fits in. In terms of scoring, Watson on the bench may not be a bad thing, but he is one of the best shot blockers on the team and has been having a pretty decent year by his standards.
Lastly, having Bitetto and Emelin together worries me somewhat. Honestly, Emelin and any of the other defensemen worries me at least a little bit. Thankfully, the forward lines are fast enough that they can probably help out, but the third line will probably leave Rinne or Saros to make multiple insane saves in the playoffs.
If there is a top 6 combination that doesn’t have JoFA and FiTS together, I really like this one. Also the third line. But I’m not entirely sure if it would be used or not.
Line Combination 4
A JoFA and FiTS top 6.
Jarny and Bonino with Michael Andrew Fisher.
The defensive pairings.
And lastly, the sheer potential of that 4th line. Last year, an injury to Ryan Johansen in the Western Conference Finals meant that Frederick Gaudreau had to step up, and boy did he. In last year’s playoff run, Gaudreau scored 3 goals on 7 shots, and he showed off worlds of potential. Pontus Aberg didn’t play as well, but he still tallied 5 points in 16 playoff games.
Gaudreau and Aberg haven’t played very well this season. Sure, they’re on the 4th line here, but in the Western Conference you want to put the best 18 guys out on the ice at all times. The two have combined for 10 points this season, and they have not replicated the flashes that everyone saw in the playoffs.
Additionally, Bonino isn’t in his primary position here. He will probably still be able to produce, but it would be interesting to see.
With Emelin on the bench and a fourth line with two unproven forwards, I really don’t think this one would be used.
Adding a winger like Pacioretty allows for an intriguing distribution of wealth for Nashville. Patches is a lefty, meaning that we could put him on the second line and move one of the two right-handed first line wingers down to play with him.
Fiala has proven this season that he is a top 6 winger for the future, and for as much as I would love to see him with Arvidsson on the first line, having Fiala on a line with Johansen and Forsberg is more lethal. Fiala would fill Arvidsson’s role on that line extremely well, and keeping Forsberg on the first line means that there is still a top-tier sniper alongside Joey.
The second line then becomes a near-perfect duplicate of that first line. Turris can dish passes to his wingers almost as smoothly as Johansen can, and when those guys are passing to the likes of Arvidsson, Fiala, Forsberg, and Pacioretty, that’s a force to be reckoned with. Despite losing both of the wingers he has played with the most so far this season to other lines, Turris would do just fine with these guys.
Arvidsson, a right-handed and more refined version of Fiala, will throw all 5 feet 9 inches and 180 pounds of his body anywhere on the ice, even if anywhere means the goal. And while Craig Smith has began a resurgence, there is a definite improvement with the addition of Pacioretty to the second line. Patches has 32 points this season in 52 games, which is the most points of anyone on the Canadiens. His 16 goals are good for the second most in Montreal, and if he were to be placed on a line with Turris and Arvidsson, the “American Sniper” would thrive.
Obviously, the Four Horsemen are almost unstoppable, and to have them running the offense and playing defense with these forward lines is an amazing thought.
There’s not much bad about this lineup. Tolvanen may not produce well enough to warrant constant playoff minutes, but there are four players who are more than capable of stepping in if necessary.
The third defensive pairing is a little worrisome, but there is enough talent from the forward lines that some of the stress can definitely be taken off of those guys—and all the defensemen really.
That depends. If the Preds trade for Pacioretty and call on Tolvanen, then I could definitely see this combination being used. If those things don’t happen, obviously not.
Are there any other line combinations you would like to see that you think would work better?