Practice Lines Thursday 9/30: Thoughts on Prospal and Stepan

According to Jesse Spector of the Daily News today's practice lines were:

This would make White, EC and Kennedy the likely scratches for tomorrow's game.

In terms of the defenders the only one not to skate was Rozi who has a groin issue (dont we know it) and wont play tomorrow.  The other 8 apparently rotated in and out so there were not really pairs. 

After the jump let us discuss these lines, their implications and the possible cuts still to come.

  • It is no surprise to anyone that watched this team that Torts is giving Prospal a shot to play with Gabby, but I am surprised that it is happening at literally the first opportunity.  This also makes me continue to ask exactly what AA has to do even to get a look with them to see if it could work.  Prospal at center would have many ripple effects throughout the lineup which i will delve into deeper a little later.
  • I like the way that Aves-Step-Fed played last night so it is not all that surprising to see them together in practice today.  With those two wingers, it is also a slot where EC, Dru or even Prospal could slot in assuming Aves and FedEx keep playing the way they have to this point.
  • The Dubi-AA-Cally line is one I have been itching to see just to see if there is any chemistry there because I see it as a line that can be tough, skilled and play both sides of the puck.
  • The fourth line is the fourth line and sort of shows me that torts is committed to having a similar fourth line to last year, while boyle has to play well the next two games to keep his spot.
  • In terms of cuts it has been announced that there will not be cuts until after the game Saturday, so everyone should get at least one shot at earning a spot and I would suspect most/all those on the bubble probably play twice.  Of the presumed scratches i would bank on white being gone, kennedy is probably in right now and EC will make the club
  • On D tomorrow I would suspect all of McD, Eminger, Sauer, Tank play with maybe Staal and Girardi.
  • Back to how Prospal impacts the lineup depending on his position.  First let me say that right or wrong I do not see Torts making Drury a 4C for any extended period of time so in my view we have a ton of guys competing for the top 2 center spots.  If Prospal ends up as the 1C it opens things up for Aves to play 3LW, but would push EC and/or AA down the rotation.  If Prospal plays wing it probably means EC is 1C and would push Aves down while moving AA back up.
  • Now that I have gone through Prospal I need to talk about Stepan.  I believe he has earned his spot on this roster, but I am still not convinced it means he gets one.  Currently we have 11 forwards capable and likely to play top 9 spots (Frolov, Gabby, Dubi, Cally, Prospal, EC, AA, Aves, Fedetenko, Dru being the other 10).  Obviously some of those wings could play on the 4th line, but I dont see EC, or Dru going to the 4th line and dont want to see AA there again. Being that Stepan has not played with Frolov and Gabby in a few days one has to wonder if he has fallen behind in that competition which probably slots him at 3C right now. This leads to the argument about whether playing 1st line minutes in Hartford or 3rd line minutes in NY and there are obvious pro's and cons to both.  If I saw Stepan as getting consistent PP1 time if he stayed it might be different for me in terms of saying he will get approx 14 min a night, but i dont see that happening over Prospal/EC.  In Hartford he gets to play 20+ minutes a night with all the PP1 time, develop his game, be a leader, be the man and not have the fan/media pressure as being the next great hope this year.  Organizationally i would think it was better as well because of the vet limit issues hartford is going to have as well as it will help to better develop Grachev and MZA playing with Stepan.  Injuries happen as we all know and if we have a top 6 or top 9 injury then call him up even though on merit he has earned the jersey already.

Ok, have at it.

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