Tom Gulitti is reporting that Jamie Langenbrunner is almost ready to practice.
In fact, he was to practice this week, but with the sheer amount of games, he hasn't seen the ice yet with his team. In a way, this isn't a bad thing because it's a concern as to where he will play. Over the first 11 games, Brent Sutter has altered the lines many times in between and during games. Everything clicked last night against Tampa Bay and in Gulitti's post
, it looks like the Devils will retain the same line up to start against Toronto tomorrow. However, don't be surprised if Sutter makes adjustments if he finds a favorable match-up or the team is sucking wind and are getting beaten during the game.
In any case, let us consider that it will take a few games for Langenbrunner to return to his normal, versatile and talented two-way forward self. Logically, he can return to playing with Jay Pandolfo and John Madden and make an already solid checking line even more solid. If Dainius Zubrus doesn't pan out - despite a fantastic game last night - Langenbrunner can step back in there to provide strong defense on the right wing and still give the line an offensive edge. Last season, he was featured with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac for considerable offensive success. If the Devils really need some offense, look to Sutter to reunite the unit. However, Brian Gionta has looked good well with Parise and Zajac with his hustle adding more speed to the wings. Sutter may not want to change that anymore than he would like to move Zubrus' size away from Madden and Pandolfo.
Therefore, I think Langenbrunner would be best returning to play with Patrik Elias. While that may not be good news for the Randy McKay-like David Clarkson, Langenbrunner would be an improvement on the right wing with his experience and versatility. OK, so the line would lose some physical presence, but it's a scoring line - hitting isn't really the point. Clarkson can be moved to the fourth line with Asham playing left wing on such a line. This presents the further problem of who would play center on that line - Sergei Brylin, moving Elias back to center; but Langenbrunner would be able to get back into form while playing with the team's most talented forward. It's a combination I don't believe Sutter has tried yet and it wouldn't be a bad idea. Who knows, it may lead to further chemistry and increased scoring from the lines altogether.
And if it doesn't work, Sutter will change them all up anyway. It is just a suggestion to the issue of deciding where Langenbrunner will play after he is fully ready to return.
Labels: 2008 Season, Devils Issues