Monday marked the first Stanley Cup Playoffs practice for the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving us an opportunity to look at what lines the team will ice against the Washington Capitals in Game One on Thursday.
With Nick Foligno back in action, the team had to figure out who will be the odd forward out. Looks like that’ll be Sonny Milano:
With Foligno back it appears Sonny Milano will be an extra forward. Mind you Game 1 not until Thursday. #CBJ— Tom Reed (@treed1919) April 9, 2018
The Cannon, like many other organizations, has a Slack channel to discuss blog and hockey goings-on. John Tortorella’s lineup decision kicked off a conversation about just who should watch from the press box in D.C.
Note: This conversation has been lightly edited for punctuation and clarity.
MrSwift13: I am so mad that Dubi is in the lineup over Milano. He’s gonna play that line 6:45 a night and I’m going to rage about it for days.
Also, the defensive pairs are erotic as hell.
paledragon: But, what’s the alternative? Andy on the fourth line? Then you’re burying a different scorer
Not to say I wouldn’t do it that, just that you understand the logic
MrSwift13: Absolutely Andy on the fourth line.
You can play the Andy line in any and all situations and he’s skilled enough that he can generate offense while starting in the defensive zone. Plus he could cheat toward the offensive zone while his line mates and defensive players clear the puck and look for breaks.
paledragon: Theory: Dubi in @ Washington; Sonny in @ Columbus, when Torts controls the match ups
Your logic makes more sense to me
*Torts thinks Dubi can be the scorer because he broke his drought vs. Nashville*
MrSwift13: That but unironically, did you see his postgame comments?
Like, play that line with 27 and 65 and let Andy carry the puck up ice and Nuti can join the rush. I think that would be fun.
Ryan Real: yeah but we know torts values experience and dubinsky has played a fair amount of postseason hockey, especially relative to the rest of this roster
milano has seven and a half minutes
not necessarily defending torts or dubi, just saying...it’s game one, he’s gonna go with his guy
paledragon: He obviously doesn’t trust Milano yet
And I can’t really blame him for that
MrSwift13: But you have SO MUCH EVIDENCE that Dubinsky is flat out garbage this year. Since Valentine’s Day (discounting last throwaway game against Nashville):
24 games played, ES TOI: 273:49, 0-0-0, 46.64 CF%, -7.99 CF rel%, 16.67 GF% at 5v5, 10 PIM, 0 p/60 at ES (worst on team)
paledragon: Wait, 0 points at even strength? Damn
MrSwift13: Yeah. He was B-A-D
paledragon: What are those same stats for Sonny in that same period?
MrSwift13: 19 games played, ES TOI: 227:10, 6-3-9, 53.73 CF%, 5.14 CF rel , 42.86 GF at 5v5, 4 PIM, 1.96 p/60 at ES (9th-best on team)
paledragon: Also negative on GF%, for what it’s worth
I think he’s better than Dubi, flat out, but I understand why there are still negatives in Sonny’s game that give Torts pause
Vs. Washington, Sonny put up a 12 trillion in December
I’m not even mad, I’m impressed
In the trade deadline game he scored 1 goal on 2 shots in 14 minutes
MrSwift13: Sonny has improved so dramatically since the TDL that I think you have to play him. He’s not the same guy that struggled in the beginning of the season. He played well and has earned the chance to keep going. Dubinsky hasn’t shown anything except a stupid shorty in a game that didn’t matter. I guess Torts is going to try to grit his way to a Cup despite that failing hilariously in the playoffs last year. Can’t wait.
paledragon: I think Torts fears Sonny getting owned by Tom Wilson or TJ Oshie
I guarantee Sonny plays in Game 3 at the latest
And FWIW, fourth lines really don’t matter much in the playoffs. For example: Look at the player usage charts
MrSwift13: Fourth line play is how we beat Washington here. We shut down their top line and the bottom six scored and carried us to a win.
It might not matter for the penguins. It matters for us.
paledragon: That was a home game
MrSwift13: Then call for a short shift of the matchup doesn’t work. Playing a black hole is the worst possible decision.
paledragon: He won’t play the black hole, tho
If the choice on the third line is Andy or Sonny, I think Andy is the better choice. Then for minimal fourth line minutes, I get putting Dubi there for five minutes of whatever
MrSwift13: What is the point of playing a guy who can’t skate and can’t score for 5 minutes. If you’re going to play someone 5 minutes a night and not trust them to take faceoffs, I’d rather play someone who has a chance of contributing offensively. Not someone who gets eaten alive.
Oh well. We can lose game one and Torts can blame “lack of finishing” as Panarin and Atkinson play 24 minutes a night. At least we made it in.
paledragon: Both will get eaten alive, but yes Sonny has a better chance of creating some offense. But can he do that as well with Calvert and Letestu?
Fully expect to win the Corsi battle because we’re great there and Washington is surprisingly bad there
MrSwift13: So, and hear me out, don’t play him with them, but play him with the guys who he was playing well with? Like, say, Bjorkstrand and Foligno? Then play Andy with Letestu?
I just hate this decision. It’s so dumb and has no basis in anything except “EXPERIENCE!!” Or something
paledragon: Curious to hear Torts after practice [UPDATE: As walterc1 points out in the comments, he’s scratched.]
There you have it. Oh, do you not spend your lunch break arguing online over who should play on the fourth line in a game more than 48 hours away? THIS IS THE PLAYOFFS, BABY.
What’s your take?