Monday, January 31, 2011

Play the roster game!

No official word yet, but it sounds like Callahan will almost definitely be back for tomorrow night, and even Prospal has been pronounced "ready to go" for the first time all season, and could be back by tomorrow or Thursday. Meanwhile, after sending down everyone ever during the All-Star Break, we have today recalled Del Zotto, Grachev, and Newbury. So, the question is: assuming Callahan and Prospal return (and no others do for now), what roster do we currently use?

I mean, clearly, if Girardi is out, there's no defenseman to cut. If he's back, DZ is probably cut. Fine. Let's look at our roster of healthy forwards, given the return of Cally and Prospal: Anisimov, Avery, Boyle, Callahan, Drury, Gaborik, Grachev, Newbury, Prospal, Prust, Stepan, Wolski, Zuccarello. That's 13. It's easy to assume a couple of things: Grachev gets the one cut, Drury and Newbury stay on the 4th line. But then what?

Here's what I think ends up happening: Avery gets the shaft.

Let's start by making what we think are the logical assumptions. Keep Wolski-Stepan-Zuccarello together as a second line. Leave Gaborik up on the first line with Avery. Keep Boyle with Prust as a part of a third line. Keep Drury and Newbury on the fourth line. All reasonable, right? Well, here's what that leaves:

Avery - ? - Gaborik
Wolski - Stepan - Zuccarello
Prust - Boyle - ?
Newbury - Drury - ?

With Anisimov, Prospal, and Callahan left to fill in the ?s. Maybe you put Callahan on the Boyle line, maybe you put Callahan with Stepan and Wolski and move Zuccarello to the Boyle line. Whatever; that's not important. What it leaves is an open spot on the first line and an open spot on the fourth line, with Prospal and Anisimov out. Bringing Prospal back to put him on the fourth line is silly. Sure, he could center the first line, but then where does Anisimov go? Surely not on the fourth line with Drury and Newbury. So who does go down there?

It wouldn't be Boyle or Stepan any more than it would be Anisimov. Again, that would be silly. Assuming it's not Gaborik, that leaves us Avery, Wolski, Zuccarello, Prust, and Callahan. One of those five men gets put on the fourth line with Drury and Newbury. Torts could shift down Brandon Prust, who has not been particularly productive lately? But it seems like it would be easiest to relegate Avery (who has been a force lately) back down, leaving room on the first line for Anisimov, Prospal, and Gaborik.

What would you do?


  1. What would I do? I would bet the farm that Avery gets sent to the 4th line, because that's all Torts knows how to do. It's his default "strategic coaching move", regardless of how it affects the team. Then we can all whine about it Wednesday. Go Rangers!

  2. No, like...what would you do? If you were Torts? What lines would YOU use?

  3. Really?! THAT'S what you meant?!.....
    I would do this:
    Avery - Anisimov - Gaborik
    Wolski - Stepan - Callahan
    Prust - Boyle - Zuccarello
    Newbury – Prospal - Drury
    or maybe switch Callahan & Zuccarello.
    But -- as you well know -- they rarely ask me.