VOORHEES, N.J. – Sean Couturier has been teammates with Claude Giroux for six years. And other than the odd shift here and there, the two have never played together on the same line with any regularity.
Until now. Maybe.
For one day at least, Giroux was shifted from the center spot he has played exclusively for almost his entire professional career, to the left wing, with Couturier in the middle and Jake Voracek on the right wing.
It was one practice. In training camp. And as Giroux said afterward, “I don’t want to talk too much about it because I may not see one shift on left wing.”
Got it. Don’t read too much into it. Except, it’s an interesting notion.
First of all, for all you analytics geeks, that combination would be a puck possession monster. Couturier was superb last season. Voracek’s possession numbers were down a little bit last year, but were still decent – and normally he’s excellent. And Giroux is always above average.
So yeah, that’s good stuff.
Secondly, the real intriguing concept of this combination is putting both Giroux and Voracek on their off-hand wing.
“So, you always like to play on your off wing because you can see so much more of the ice,” Voracek told me. “When you have two guys who are doing that, and one of them is a guy like G who has elite vision, it can be really tough to defend.”
Defensemen would be on a swivel as there would be additional passing lanes created by two off-handed wingers.
Thirdly, last season, one of the disappointing aspects of the top line was that it wasn’t very good defensively. And no matter how good your possession numbers are (and they were down across the board last season) you still have to play defense 45-50 percent of the time. Putting Couturier on that top line would immediately change that for the better.
So there are a lot of positives here.
But, it is definitely something that could have a ripple effect down the line. Would moving Couturier change the defensive strength down the lineup? Is he a productive enough player offensively to merit top-line minutes? Does moving Giroux to the wing impact his production? Continue Reading