Due to the injury to Johann Franzen (out 3-4 weeks), Mike Babcock has changed up his lines, shortened his bench, and Matt Ellis is in the lineup in a 4th line role. The thing is, the line combinations other than Zetterberg/Holmstrom/Datsyuk seem to be set in quicksand, and even that line gets the "mixmaster" approach every now and again.
In tonight's 4-2 victory over Calgary, Babcock played the bejeebers out of the top line, and the 2nd line of Filppula/Hudler/Samuellson. The 3rd line was mostly Draper/Drake/Cleary, but Maltby snuck in there occasionally too. The nominal 4th line was Maltby/Kopecky/Ellis, but they didn't see much ice time, hence Maltby getting thrown up on the 3rd line very now and again.
The mix-n-match, and short-bench approach seems to be working well early on, but down the stretch Babcock is going to have to start rolling 4 lines, especially against the deeper teams like Anaheim and San Jose. A healthy Franzen come mid-November will help that situation immensely.
Osgood played decently tonight, but made a mistake on the second goal by Huselius when he cheated off the post a bit to play the pass rather than the shot. I can't argue too much with his performance though as it was his first NHL regular season game in goal in almost 7 months. One of these days the Red Wings are going to have to rely on someone with names other than Osgood or Hasek on their goaltending roster, but the way these guys look, it's not going to be soon.
I'm looking forward to attending the Red Wings game in Phoenix on the 20th, and hopefully will have some commentary and insight after that one. It's always cool to walk into Glendale (oops, excuse me, Jobing.com) Arena and see the thousands of Wings fans in attendance for the games. I'll get to see some old friends from when I lived in Tempe, and enjoy a great hockey game in the desert. Maybe I can snag an autograph or two too!!