We went into last night with 4 lines with pretty defined roles:
Steeg-Richie-Z: Fend off Vanek, create offense IF POSSIBLE
Carcillo-Powe-Betts: Dominate in own zone and physicality
HBL: No change
Carcillo/Nodl-Powe-Betts: No major change
JVR-Giroux-Zherdev: Same role, same skill level---more offensively oriented
Here lies the problem. If Carter and Nodl are both unable to go, what do we do? Who is waiting in the wings and what are our options.
Problem 1: Who is the 9th of the top 9 forwards? This problem has two answers. It is either (and highly favored) Dan Carcillo or an AHL player. Our top 8 is set: C: Briere/Giroux/Richie. Briere gets Harts and Leino. Giroux gets Z and JVR and Richie gets Steeg. That leaves one more guy. It makes sense to have Carcillo be the guy on that line because they have done it before. Carcillo scored with (I think) Richie and Steeg on the ice in game 2. This is the most likely solution, but could we go with...
Ben Holmstrum: Phantoms MVP award. Has played up before. 38 points this year. Played in every scenario for them, but not a top 9 guy for the Flyers right now.
Mike Testwuide: He is the only guy who has a shot---a small one--- at being a top 9 forward not named Carcillo. If we go with Testwuide that means two things: 1. WTF? 2. We are sacrificing defense for a scorer who's never scored before. I
It's safe to say, IMHO, that Carcillo will be the other top 9.
Problem 2: Betts-Powe and who.
Option 1: If he's healthy, Jody Shelley. I'm not explaining anything else about him, because I don't want the drama, we've had it all year. If Laviolette wants to really intensify the physicality by going with a guy who will get no 3rd period ice time in the third period, he'll go with Shelley. If he wants familiarity, he'll go with Shelley. That is the main argument. Familiarity. Calming. They did it with Boosh, maybe they'll do it with Shelley.
Option 2: Eric Wellwood. He was a good call up for the 3 games earlier in the year. 28 points in 73 games, so he has a little bit of developing offensive skill. I think that Wellwood is a long shot.
(Most Likely) Option 3: Ben Holmstrum: Phantoms MVP. Plays PP, PK and ES for them. 38 points in 79 games. I don't want to look at his 3 game sample size, because lets be honest, it means nothing. He was the most recent call up and he plays with fire. He got trampled to one of the better middle weights in the league in Chris Neil last game, which can do wonders for shaking off the intimidation factor that the NHL has.
(Wild Card) Option 4: Erik Gustafsson: What? Well, we've done it before. Luca Sbisa was a defender for the Flyers, called up at the end to play 4th line forward. With our top pairings playing tons of minutes, yet again, would it be horrible to try out a 7th defender. Carcilllo will take 4th line shifts by the end of the game, as his spot will be taken by more potent scorers if we are down. I don't see Holmstrum or Wellwood getting near 10 minutes, so this could be a viable option.***If pronger comes back this changes to Syvret.
None of these guys have playoff experience (Shelley has 7 games) and none other than Shelley have 5 games in the NHL. Playoff hockey is a different animal. I think they go Holmstrum, but I'd go Gusty. Don't know why, just a good feeling about taking 1-2 minutes away from the big guys.