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Changing on the Go

Changing on the Go

by James O'Brien
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Every now and then, sports come along and tug at your heartstrings. Craig Anderson’s 37-save shutout shortly following the announcement of his wife's cancer diagnosis certainly did that.


It was beautiful to see the Oilers embrace his accomplishment, and all he’s going through. All too often, sports can remind us of the troubling portions of the “real world” - cowardice from coaching, those in charge of running things being indifferent to decay, owners milking taxpayers for new buildings only to gouge them at every future opportunity - so uplifting moments feel that much more precious.


Good luck to the Anderson family during what must be a deeply trying time, even after what must have been a cathartic night.


Now, onto the line changes you clicked here for ...


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The Arizona Coyotes demoted Christian Dvorak, which may or may not be good news for Dylan Strome, currently in a holding pattern with the ‘Yotes.


He last played on Oct. 21, receiving just 10:41 TOI; he hasn't gotten more than 14:13 in any of his three appearances this season.


It seems pretty clear that the Coyotes would probably just send him to the AHL if that was the option with the 19-year-old, but it's not. He's in that awkward place where he's too good for junior but, seemingly, not ready for the big time.


Of course, it wouldn't hurt to actually commit to giving him a real chance though, would it?


I definitely don’t hate the lines he mixed up with in practice on Monday; a Jamie McGinn - Strome - Anthony Duclair line provides an interesting combination of skills and styles.


To Arizona’s credit, Strome receives respectable power-play time on ice when he’s played, so I say give him a go against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. At 2-6-0, the Coyotes might be happy to lose, so maybe they’d weirdly benefit from him struggling, and thus justifying an eventual trip back to junior?


From a fantasy standpoint, here’s hoping he gets a more legitimate chance before that happens, especially since a return to junior doesn’t seem like much of a benefit.




-- Don’t be alarmed by the Bruins’ lines, as David Backes seems hurt and David Pastrnak isn’t eligible to return until Wednesday.


Actually, let me rephrase that; be alarmed by Boston’s questionable pieces beyond the top guys … but don’t be alarmed by this specific amalgamation.


-- Greedily, I still would love to see Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau with a more explosive linemate, but at least Alex Chiasson appears to be the stable choice. For now?


(But yeah, put my vote in for Matthew Tkachuk to rampage and distract - and occasionally score - with those two. Just a thought ... that I'll probably float at least once per month if Tkachuk burns his rookie year in 2016-17.)


-- Marian Hossa had a good first night with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin, while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane lined up with Richard Panik. If those tweaks stick, I wonder if Hossa could benefit a bit? He's quietly off to a nice start with seven points in eight games, and his 12.5 shooting percentage virtually matches his career mark of 12.3.


(Granted, he was below 10 percent in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, so we'll see on a number of fronts.)


-- I get putting Jason Spezza at the wing when you're just overflowing with center talent, especially since he's not exactly Patrice Bergeron from a two-way standpoint but ... in the Stars' current situation? Eh. Not a huge fan of that.


On another Stars note, Ales Hemsky being out 5-6 months is sad, but it's basically the story of his career at this point, right?


-- Thomas Vanek's week-to-week injury throws off the aesthetic balance of the Red Wings' lines like that one Jenga move that leaves everything wobbly. That said, I'm interested to see a little more of Gustav Nyquist - Frans Nielsen - Dylan Larkin.


-- Don't go too crazy over Colton Sceviour's hat trick plus assist from the other night, but there are a few reasons to at least keep an eye on him. He's been getting solid ice time lately, and with nice linemates in Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith, he's in a decent situation.


-- Brayden McNabb was placed on IR, which could mean bigger headaches for Drew Doughty and other Kings defensemen. Perhaps Tom Gilbert will get more of a look?


-- Injuries open up interesting opportunities for oddly named Minnesota Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek, who's slotted in with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle at the moment.


He's managed five points in as many games despite limited ice time, which lowers SOME of the concern over his unsustainable 28.6 shooting percentage ... but still, that's an obvious red flag.


-- Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and James Neal are kind of a mess, but maybe they can figure it out together? Tuesday night's game against the Colorado Avalanche serves as a useful litmus test for two teams that are still a little difficult to gauge.


-- As far as I can tell, Andrew Ladd has been replaced by Anthony Beauvillier, a late first-rounder from 2015 who is off to a nice start (while Ladd is, uh … not). Ladd gets decent linemates


with Brock Nelson and Shane Prince, while Josh Bailey continues to draw the plum gig with Tavares. Woof, Tavares' linemates are almost as rough as that Barclays Center ice.


-- Note to teams that might envy the Rangers’ forward depth: you could have added a bunch of those guys, for cheap.


 -- Travis Konecny's seven points in 10 games are pretty remarkable since he only has one goal on 22 SOG (4.5 shooting percentage) in 10 games. Not a bad trio with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, although it would sting me to have a Flyers forward who isn't part of that ridiculously powerful top Philly power play unit. (Only Voracek draws that assignment.)


-- Kris Letang seems like he should return for the Penguins soon, which might be bad news for Justin Schultz, who found his way on the top PP unit.


-- Mikkel Boedker's most common linemates are: Joonas Donskoi, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. Despite those helpful partners, Boedker has one goal, zero assists and just nine SOG through nine games with the Sharks. BUT HE SKATES REAL FAST.


-- The Lightning are a mess, and the return of Nikita Kucherov + Ryan Callahan didn't change that. Here's hoping that Kucherov gets with either Tyler Johnson or Steven Stamkos as soon as possible, as a Callahan - Kucherov - Valtteri Filppula line is just a'ight.


-- For the time being, Jannik Hansen draws the Sedin twins. I will say this: there are some perks, at least theoretically, to giving the twins a linemate with a righthanded shot.


-- The Capitals are rolling with Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson with their top two lines, plus a very capable third trio of Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie. Wilson's the big winner and Oshie one of the losers of these tweaks, as Backstrom and Kuznetsov are both glorious centers for Ovi.


Wilson should try not to headhunt for a while, then.

James O'Brien
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.