A couple of quick, interesting notes from today's practice where Marc Crawford had the lines all askew. In the wake of another disappointing loss, the Stars are searching for the perfect combination of players to give the team consistency from game to game. Last week, the Stars had two games where they combined for 87 shots and just four goals; they showed some incredible offensive firepower but the team as a whole is still 1-2-2 in the past five games.
After the jump a glance at the new look the Stars had at practice today, and is Steve Ott in trouble again?
Today at practice, Crawford went with some line combinations we have yet to see:
Crawford had Jamie Benn back on the right wing with Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow and moved Jere Lehtinen down to the Mike Modano line. Lehtinen was playing the right wing, while Fabian Brunnstrom was playing the left wing. Those are two lines Crawford seems intent on keeping going forward.
He had Brian Sutherby on the left wing with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson, and you have to believe Neal will get his spot back if he is ready to go Thursday. So, what does that mean for the fourth line of Steve Ott-Tom Wandell-Toby Petersen? Where would Sutherby fit?
For those keeping count, here's what the line combos were at practice today:
Sutherby - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Benn
Brunnstrom - Modano - Lehtinen
Ott - Wandell - Petersen
With Crawford seemingly intent on keeping the Ribeiro and Modano lines above going into Thursday's game, there is going to be some interesting decisions to be made once Neal and Barch return. A good problem to have? What lines would you use?
Mike Heika makes a good point that Crawford's desire to keep every player involved in practices and from game to game might be contributing to it's lack of consistency. I'd have to go back and really look at it, but it seems as if the Stars have only played the same lineup two games in a row once or twice this season. While injuries and suspensions have required some maneuvering at times, it would be nice to find a good combination of lines and just ride with them for a few games.
Could Steve Ott be in trouble with the NHL again? It seems that Petr Sykora and the Minnesota Wild claim that Ott hit Sykora in the head with his elbow and he should be suspended. Sykora did not practice today is reportedly suffering from headaches. Here's what Michael Russo has to say:
Wild players all were talking about the hit this morning and how the league "better suspend" Ott. We will see. Unlike Derek Boogaard's elbow last year on Brandon Prust, there wasn't an outcry on this one in Canada, like for instance this link (watch the YouTube) with the broadcaster actually naming what the suspension should be (five games) and then Boogaard amazingly enough getting five games.
Well, Ott took a leaping elbow into the head on Sykora in my opinion. The league allegedly wants to rid head shots, well, then throw the book at Ott, too. Or maybe Stephane Robidas for his textbook boarding on Mikko Koivu last night that was somehow missed.
I'll see if I can find video of the Ott hit on Sykora. Without a clear memory of what happened, I don't have an opinion on what exactly should happen.
In any case, let's just hope it wasn't as bad as the Wild are making it out to be; the next time Ott is suspended it could be for a pretty long time.