According to a Dispatch article, Coach Gallant has made some serious changes to the Blue Jackets lines. The fans will get to see his experiment for the first time on Thursday when the Jackets take on the St. 'Most Dangerous City' Louis Blues.
The forwards are as follows:
Nikolai Zherdev-Sergei Fedorov-Anson Carter;
Fredrik Modin-David Vyborny-Rick Nash;
Jason Chimera-Manny Malhotra-Dan Fritsche.
Jody Shelley-Alexander Svitov/Gilbert Brule-Steven Goertzen.The majority of these positions are unsurprising- Fedorov leading the top line, young guys at the tail end with Shelley. But there are some noteworthy exceptions:
Nash has been bumped to the second line and replaced by Anson Carter, who is more of an NHL veteran. This move may be in hopes of preventing the first line from having too many inexperienced youngsters. A veteran may be more able to adapt to Fedorov's mature play style. Also, Fedorov's bilingual abilities may quickly bring Zherdev into the game.
The second, and much more noteworthy, change is Vyborny playing Center on the second line. In my eye, Vyborny has never been seen as a center. But this fan is willing to recognize that Vyborny is a complete player (and one of my favorites) who can handle both sides of the puck adequately. Initially I would have expected #9 to play wing on the first line instead of taking center. But there's no way he's better at face-offs than Fedorov, so he moves down a line. Vyborny at center also moves Malhotra down, which is an acceptable option. Malhotra has a phyiscal play style that doesn't always gel well with the skilled finesse players on the first two lines. He is best suited to skate with Chimera, and Fritsche will have some guidance as a young player.
I look forward to seeing if these lines make a difference to our scoring woes. Our most skilled players are now spread evenly through two lines, so we're more likely to have solid offense at any given point during the game. Even though I consider these changes to be brave by Gallant, I think its a "so crazy it just might work" situation for the Jackets.