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Monday, November 24 practice lines:


Mike Babcock must salivate each and every time he runs through different line combinations in his head.

Although setting the Wings' depth chart has to be exciting, it certainly can't be easy. Babcock has three all-star centres (Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Franzen) and two future all-star centres (Filppula and Hudler), all of whom can double as wingers if needed. Throw in a sniper (Hossa), an in-front-of-the-net specialist (Holmstrom) and a couple of energy players (Draper and Maltby), and you've got an astounding number of gifted, multidimensional players.

As if that wasn't enough, the Wings always seem to have other players putting up great numbers (Samuelsson) and playing with renewed passion (McCarty), and they have players in the minors doing the same (Leino and Helm), just biding their time. Since I'd like to post this blog before game time tonight (10:00 EST), I won't even mention Kopecky's impressive play recently, or that of the Wings' D...

You could probably just put all these names in a hat and pull out great line combos all day. But with so much talent in so many different ways and places, how could anyone help but try and determine "the perfect" combination? I can't help but smile ear to ear every time I consider the possibilities, and I envy Mike Babcock for actually being able to realize his ideas. He almost went with the names-in-a-hat idea last game (especially as the game drew on) when he kept Datsyuk/Hossa and Zetterberg/Franzen together, while rotating their other respective wingers. It worked very well, but I don't know; the last team I can remember doing something similar on a regular basis was the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs. Thinking of that team and that year (and Game 7, and overtime and Tim Cheveldae) shrinks my smile considerably -- we'd better come up with something else:

Line 1-A: Filppula-Datsyuk-Hossa -- I've been waiting for these guys to play together all year (consistently) and it looks like it may finally happen tonight! I don't have anything against Holmer (and he's injured anyways), but Filppula's way too good for #3 and will do wonders for this line's defense at even-strength (+/-). I have no doubt Filppula would put up 70 points if he was on this line for a whole year...

Line 1-B: Hudler-Zetterberg-Franzen -- Huds has been on fire of late, and these two would have no problems being the primary shooters on the line (we all know Huds loves dishing it off). For me, Hudler is a better play maker than Samuelsson, and I think Sammy would be better off as option #1 on line #3...

Line 3: Maltby-Draper-Samuelsson -- Maltby's been playing the best he has in years, Draper is Mr. Consistent and Sammy would be free to shoot first and ask questions later...

Line 4: Meech-Kopecky-McCarty -- This would still be an outstanding energy line with Meech's promotion, D-Mac's passion and Kopecky's recent Holmstrom-like play...

That's what I'd do with tonight's players. If I had it all my way, Leino would be an everyday forward and Conker would be an everyday goalie. Don't ask me who I'd drop for Leino, though -- some decisions are better left for Babs, and I don't want to open myself up to that level of criticism!

Any other hot combinations out there? What do you think of mine?


P.S. Anyone else think Franzen should have gotten an assist on Hudler's 3rd period goal (Saturday)? Me and my fantasy team are still up in arms, scratching our heads...
Filed Under:   Detroit  
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