From every indication in this year’s training camp/preseason Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has a pretty good idea of what his lineup will look like to start the regular season on October 1st, although he isn’t one to admit it. The forwards that will make the team have been playing on the same line since day one of camp and barring injury that isn’t about to change. Its a chemistry thing. The defence is pretty well set in stone with Andreas Lilja being placed on longterm IR after suffering a concussion last season courtesy of Nashville’s Shea Weber. Babcock has also expressed his desire to keep Zetterberg and Datsyuk on separate lines. Their fantasy owners may not think too kindly of his decision as they are absolutely fantastic when playing together, but they are both two of the best defensive forwards in the league and having them on separate lines will help improve the miserable defence of last season. They will both put up points no matter who they are playing with, but the question is how many? Can Datsyuk finally break the elusive 100 point mark without Zetterberg on his line? Will separating the two increase the production of players like Cleary and Bertuzzi making them viable fantasy options? Anyway, without further ado here are the lines Babcock looks to be rolling into the season with:
Holmstrom – Datsyuk – Franzen
Bertuzzi – Zetterberg – Cleary
Leino – Filppula – Williams
Draper – Abdelkader – Eaves (Maltby)
Its worth mentioning that Darren Helm would be listed as the 4th line center rather than Abdelkader, but he suffered an AC sprain in his shoulder and is expected to be out of action 2-4 weeks. Abdelkader would have likely started the season in the minors otherwise. Its also interesting that Kirk Maltby may see more than his fair share of time in the pressbox this season. A third line of Leino-Filppula-Williams would definitely be near tops in the league. Filppula was great in the playoffs and stepped up his game when Datsyuk was hindered by his foot injury. Expect Filpulla to be given a lot more opportunity this season.
The defence will look the same as how last season finished off:
Lidstrom – Rafalski
Stuart – Kronwall
Lebda – Ericsson
Looks like Derek Meech will be the odd guy out again this season.
Be sure to check back with DailyFaceoff.com throughout the NHL season as we will have up to date and accurate lineups for all 30 NHL teams including powerplay units. We will also let you know who’s starting in net for both teams in every game this regular season in our Between the Posts section.