What The Hecht Will The Lines Look Like?

I waited until I got a better idea of when Hecht would be back from his injury to make this post and since he’s been cleared for contact, it would stand to reason that he will be possibly playing as soon as the home opener against Carolina, which is a good thing. Hecht excels at the things that go unnoticed by a fair amount of fans (working the boards for puck possession and playing great defensively). He’s also used on the PK, so Hecht will be able to take some of the load off of the PKing forwards on the team. With Luke Adam excelling through the first two games at center, the Sabres have a foursome of Roy-Leino-Adam-Gaustad down the middle, which means Hecht will more than likely be playing left-wing, so now the questions are where does he fit and who comes out for him?

*UPDATE: Per Paul Hamilton, Hecht won’t be playing this weekend. Lindy wants to make sure he’s ok.*

The answer to the latter question is Cody McCormick. I’ve got nothing against Cody. He’s guy that brings a physical presence to the team and will tirelessly stand-up for his teammates, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t take part in special teams and has only averaged 8:29 of even-strength ice time through the first two games. Hecht will be able to play tougher minutes, most likely receiving about 4-6 minutes more even-strength time than McCormick and it is highly probable that he’ll end up leading the forwards in short-handed ice time. By having McCormick as the 13th forward, this move will also allow the Sabres to send Matt Ellis down to Rochester where he belongs so he can help lead the Amerks.

As for where Hecht fits in, I think he fits in on a line with Roy and Boyes. Hecht can take some of the defensive-load away from those two and allow Roy and Boyes to focus more on offense. His board-work will open up more ice for those two to work with as well. Obviously, Vanek-Adam-Pominville won’t be broken up at this point and now that I’ve created the Hecht-Roy-Boyes line, that leaves two more lines to create.

Ennis and Stafford have had chemistry together going back to last season and those two looked good in the preseason together as well. Leino also seemed to work very well with them in the preseason, so it makes perfect sense to me to give the line of Ennis-Leino-Stafford a try in the regular season.

Finally, by progress of elimination, the other line would be Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta and frankly, who would be mad at this combination? I think I can speak for Sabres fans everywhere when I say that those three were very enjoyable to watch when they are together. This trio provides a relentless forecheck that allows them to maintain puck possession fairly often and really annoy the heck out of the opposing team. They aren’t half-bad defensively either.

So to sum things up, I want this forward lineup when Hecht is able to play.

Vanek-Adam-Pominville

Ennis-Leino-Stafford

Hecht-Roy-Boyes

Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta

x McCormick

Other NHL Notes:

-Last year’s final two teams, Boston and Vancouver are a combined 2-4-1 to start the season. The slow start is normal for the Canucks who routinely play mediocre hockey in Octover, but Bruins fans should be mildly concerned. At least their young guys, Seguin and Marchand are playing well.

-Semyon Varlamov has been sensational in goal to start the year, posting a 1.30 GAA and a .960 Save Percentage, stopping 97 of 101 shots. Seeing as he has never played in more than 33 games at any level of hockey, the Avs might want to cut down on the shots against or the wheels might fall off the Varlamov-bus.

-With Marc Staal on the shelf for the Rangers, Dan Girardi has stepped up in a major way. He’s eating major minutes, leading the league in total ice time per game with a whopping 30:51 minutes. In my opinion, he’s definitely been one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL for a while now. New York’s obviously a better team with Staal, but one positive about this situation is that Girardi may become more recognized around the league.

-The rumors of Detroit being moved to the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference when realignment occurs has people flipping out. I can definitely understand the outrage. Detroit doesn’t exactly fit in with the other teams geographically speaking, but at the same time, I think it would be great for the Southeast to have some more competition. I’m sick of watching the Caps get fat off of the mediocre teams in that division. We’ll see what happens.

-The Flyers have opened up the season 3-0-0 and seem to not be missing a beat without Richards and Carter. I’m not too surprised. Brysgalov has come in and solidified their goaltending and Giroux is a better player than both Richards and Carter. They also have Danny Briere still and he’s more than capable of anchoring the 2nd line. Flyers rookie, Sean Couturier has looked very impressive in the 3rd line center role too. He’s reminding me a lot of Jordan Staal. Also,  Jagr looks revived playing on the top line with Giroux and VanRiemsdyk as well. I still think the defense will be somewhat of a weak-link as the season wears on since they are relying on two aging defensemen in Pronger and Timonen to run the show, but they will be among the best at forward and goaltending all year.

-Finally, on a lighter note, Toronto’s 2-0-0 start actually has a lot of Leafs fans thinking playoffs. Personally, I think fans should wait until they beat better teams to make that leap. Beating a Markov-less Habs team and a rebuilding Sens team is not that impressive. In fact, the Leafs almost blew a 4-0 lead in the 3rd in that game against the Sens. To close out this post, I leave you with the latest ramblings of everyone’s favorite Leafs fan, Bushkorn!

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