It could have been coincidental that Anisimov, Brandon & Callahan(ABC) have been thrust into first line duties due to Prospal and Gaborik going down with injuries early on here, but destiny is more what it feels like. With Stepan taking the spotlight in the first game and the ABC line contributing with the Avery, Fed, Step line early on, it seemed like we were getting a treat from each supporting Gaborik line that was due to take over and over shine them eventually. Although time seems to be of the essence for these three in their contract years with no one to overshadow them. No first round pick being thrust in front, no Gaborik, no Drury, no Prospal and even the Stepan progression/hype takes a back seat to these three. If someone would've told me in a couple of years back players drafted 54th in 2006, 60th in 2004, and 127th in 2004 would be logging top line minutes in 2010, I would have said "well that's Sather for ya". In actuality they are playing top line games right now.
These three do not have the talent Graves, Mess, and Kovalev(the jury is out on AA on this one still) but the mind set seems to be identical at least to me. And the attitude is Win.
Callahan having to take over leadership duties without Drury and Prospal seems to be flourishing in the spotlight, defending Roszival(which I think Drury wouldn't/couldn't have done), being an uplifting presence in the locker room, and communicating well with the zebra's between plays. Without mentioning his value to the team in play, he is at least the 3rd most important player on the team behind Hank and Gabby. His penchant for putting the pucks in great scoring areas using his speed compliments AA and Dubinsky great so far. He's on pace for 90 points and as much as I love the guy and wish him more than that, I see around a (still breakout year) 62 point season for Cally at this point.
Join me for more after the jump.
Dubinsky to me is the perfect type of player any team needs. Gritty, with nice skill, vision and wrist shot, as well as a player that can kill a penalty in a tight game when need be. His size 6, 1, 210 compliments speedy straight ahead skating that will knock you over the boards with a hit. His play is more in the direction of the Richards', Keslers, and Bobby Ryans of the NHL but he doesn't get that type of respect around the league. I think this year his focus for not only a playoff birth, but a Cup, a new contract, a chance to play for the US Olympic team in several years, and respect around the league will drive him towards his peak. I think his play at left wing has been outstanding I mean he's only a point per game player so far, lets just see if that lasts for some reason I think it will. He's on pace for 82 this year and has that is his ceiling when given the minutes but with the return of Prospal, it only means less time for him. I say at this point we could look towards a 26 goal 45assist year for Dubinsky ending with around 70 points.
Artem Anisimov, "I need some more Anisimov!!!" is what we all generally yelled last season as AA got enough ice time to gloat at Enver Lisin and Brashear, but after that no one else, considering the high hopes for him. This year I came in thinking that Boyle and AA were going to get the shaft and stink up the 4th line with the enforcers but boy was I way off. Boyle has shown plenty of enough skill to play on the third, while AA shows why he is suppose to be in the NHL, showing signs of Kovalev with his skill and you have to love it. Does playing in between two players that aren't too crafty but filthy as all hell when it comes to hunting down and controlling the puck help you? You bet your sweet ass it does.He's on pace for 65 points. Look for him end up with about 53 considering Gaborik and Prospal are coming back this year.
This is a strange formula Torts is working with here early on but it seems to be working. I mean when you look at the intangibles you can see why he likes to throw his top line against the top line of lets say a Toews-Kane-Kopecky, they will out work the fancier players plain and simple. It also doesn't hurt that they are all on pace to have 82 point seasons on avg. although reality will tell you fat chance, I truly believe that mid season when these guys are all around 45 points true respect will come for these throwback first liners around the league. Hey they aren't suppose to be playing this good. They shouldn't be first liners in this league. Eventually this will change. The critics are out there but so are these three and I think they look pretty comfortable in the drivers seat for the Blueshirts, thus far.