What's the plan now? Not that I'm worried. But those are two pretty important pieces. And I'm more concerned about the Poni gap than the Mitchell gap.
- Since Drewiske has been playing "lights out" as they say, and since we saw him paired with Doughty after Mitchell went down on Saturday, and since DrewD and DDrew is fun to type, I'm going to assume DDrew moves up to play with DrewD (see? fun!) and
Muzzin is recalled, and paired with Greene.
- Could also put Harrold with Greene, but I think Muzzin is the better choice (replaces more of Mitchell's grit). Not a mark against Harrold, though; he's looked great whenever he's made an appearance.
- Forwards...this is less easy to fix. The line of Ponikarovsky - Handzus - Simmonds logs a lot of key shut-down minutes. Clifford has been playing well the last couple of games, but is Murray going to want to thrust him into such a high-profile, high-responsibility role?
- I think Murray is likely to want to put Richardson there, or, possibly, Lewis (who once upon a time was thought of in that Eric Belanger responsible third-line mode -- maybe that's still how they think of him, I don't know). Neither of those choices is ideal.
- There's also Marc-Andre Cliche, who is, of the prospects, in theory the most qualified to play that defensive-forward role. But he's just come back from injury and I have no idea if he's got his sea legs yet.
- I don't think Loktionov will be recalled, because all that does it put Parse in the Ponikarovsky role, and I suspect Murray would rather let Parse get some chemistry going with Kopitar (not to mention that Parse is not an ideal defensive-forward candidate either, so it hardly seems worth the bother).
- The only other option I can think of is to drop Brown into the Handzus line, either on the left side (which he's lousy at) or on the right, moving Simmonds over to the left side. I don't really like either of those ideas. Keeping Brown on the right just means having two new pieces instead of one (because Simmonds would be new on the left, and Brown would be new on the third).
- Bonus thought: Brayden Schenn. Why this is a bad idea: um, well, he's not a winger, and also...defensive coverage has been his weakness thus far. Why it's a good idea: he's smart, and maybe under Handzus's tutelage he can get a crash course in everything he needs. Call me a dreamer, but this is my favorite of all these flawed ideas. It's not even the least flawed, but it's the most interesting.
- Murray is more responsible and reasonable than I am, though, so I bet you he will go with Richardson or Lewis and probably Richardson. Still, I like:
- - Brown
Smyth - Stoll - Williams
Schenn - Handzus - Simmonds
Clifford - Richardson - Lewis
Drewiske - Doughty
Scuderi - Johnson
Muzzin - Greene
[UPDATE: Or, what he said.]