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Doing Lines in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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With only a few more days left for the Sharks until the start of the season, forward lines and defensive pairings are starting to become more consistent. On this note we've recently gotten some great info from Sharks' blogger Dave Pollak, who is with the team in Stockholm.

First, the forward lines. Pollak reports that they've been shaken up a bit, and these are the lines we can expect when the puck drops on Friday:

Marleau – Couture – Heatley

McGinn – Thornton – Setoguchi

Clowe – Pavelski – Mitchell

McLaren – Nichol – McCarthy/Wingels

Well that's different, huh? But different-good. I like these lines a lot, in fact.

First, I'm thrilled with Couture on the top line, especially since that's exactly what I asked for a couple of weeks ago when I wrote this:

Also, I want Couture playing on one of the top two lines. He's definitely ready. Give him the puck!

so obviously the Sharks are reading what I write for tips again. Seriously though, Couture has showed amazing talent at times and I think he will put up some great numbers playing with Marleau and Heatley.

The second line is the most interesting to me, since it's basically just putting Joe Thornton with a couple of young fast guys. I've got to say, I think this is going to work out pretty well. Joe can control the puck up the ice or along the boards like an absolute monster, and his pinpoint passing seems like a natural complement for smaller, quicker, elusive players like McGinn and Setoguchi. The only trouble with this line may be that they're a little too finesse - I'm not sure which of the three is ready to go charging in to stand in the crease and take some punishment*.

Clowe - Pavelski - Mitchell is a pretty sweet third line. It really looks like, for the beginning of the season at least, the Sharks will be trying to roll their top three lines and get scoring from a lot of different players. They certainly have the talent on paper to make this an option.

On the 4th line, I'm excited to see Scott Nichol and Tommy Wingels become best friends. I sure hope Jamal Mayers doesn't ruin everything when he comes back from his injury.

Well I sure feel great after looking at those lines. The Sharks really have some incredibly talent up front. How could these guys ever lose?

Oh, right. On to the defensive pairings.

Murray – Boyle

Vlasic – Wallin

Demers – Huskins

The top half of our D is solid. The bottom half is scary.

On the top pairing, Murray and Boyle are a great but risky duo. Murray sometimes puts himself out of position to make hits and Boyle does the same thing to make plays. As long as they get used to playing with one another and cover for each other everything should be cool, but god help us if they both do their thing at the same time.

On the second D pair, Vlasic is really talented. He plays much more mature than his age. His side of the ice should be well taken-care-of.

On the bottom D know what? I don't really want to talk about that. Let's make a rule, okay? Nobody can ask me any questions about anything relating to the bottom-half of the Sharks D this season. Agreed?

Final thoughts

Discussion question: the Sharks have the best forwards in the Pacific and the Kings have the best defense. True or not?

That's about it for today. I'll have a gameday thread up Friday morning so we can all talk about the Sharks while we watch the exciting action at work!

Oh, wait - does not everyone have access to NHL Gamecenter? Is that just me? And is it just because the blog was given a free account and Earl and Rudy both declined it? Yes, yes, and yes. Life is good.

* = every time I look at Jamie McGinn's stats I'm intrigued by the 05-06 season in which he had 113 penalty minutes, way more than he's put up any other season. What happened then? Is Jamie McGinn secretly a goon? Can he bring that edge back out now? That would be the perfect addition to the McGinn - Thornton - Setoguchi line.