It’s been a wild weekend for the Buffalo Sabres franchise and fans, and things don’t look to be settling down anytime soon.
All of these additions to the team have lead to many people creating starting lineups. Of course, these are just speculations, as it’s likely head coach Dan Bylsma will try out new lineups at training camp later in the summer. But with all of the excitement, how could you not be running lines through your head? So, just for the heck of it, here’s what I came up with as a forward lineup for opening night:
Without a doubt, our top line RW will be the most difficult slot to fill. It was tempting to put Tyler Ennis or Zemgus Girgensons there, but I believe that with Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly as linemates, Matt Moulson will be able to find the back of the net more often. Yes, he’s getting old and this won’t be a long-term solution, but I think the chemistry of that line will be great. Moulson has proven he can score with a #1 center in the past, and I have faith he can do it again. Kane and O’Reilly should also have no problem logging 1st line minutes.
The second line is our explosive line. This line will have the most energy and may very well be the most dangerous as all three players are incredibly fast and pose serious scoring threats. It will take some time for Girgensons to readjust to playing wing, but he will be fine. Ennis has always ben solid, and there are no growing concerns that he will be able to put up points. But keep in mind that while it’s expected that Jack Eichel starts as our 2nd line center, it’s likely that by the second half of the season we see him on the 1st line. All the same, if this turns out to be our 2nd line for the first few months or so, I’m going to be the most excited to see these three players skating together.
The third line was the trickiest. I think of it as our “wild card” line. Assuming Sam Reinhart makes the team, we’ll need to surround him with good players. I realize Johan Larsson may not even be a regular on the team next year, and I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Marcus Foligno, but I think the three could gel together quite nicely. Larsson brings the speed, Reinhart brings the smarts and the skills, and Foligno brings the physical aspect of the game. It’s a bit of a risky lineup, but I’m starting to like it.
Finally, the fourth line is our quiet, yet solid line. David Legwand and Brian Gionta will bring the experience and leadership, and Nicolas Deslauriers will create energy with his physical presence. This line will be able to score goals every so often, but even when they don’t, they will provide stability.
I don’t like leaving McGinn out of the lineup because from what I’ve heard, he seems like a solid player. I just couldn’t find a spot for him in this particular lineup, because I really didn’t want to take Deslauriers out and I think it’d be a little strange if our captain Gionta was a healthy scratch for most games.
To be realistic, this lineup looks nice and all, but I’m sure the real lines will look somewhat different on opening night. This is just what I thought would be good. But hey, any combination we put on the ice will definitely be better than:
(last game of 2014-15 regular season vs. Pittsburgh)
Thanks for reading! Any comments welcome; I’m curious to see what others think.