kotalik was absent at practice this afternoon cause, well.... it sounds like his flight outta newark was cancelled. for all the conspiracy theorists out there, consider this: the only direct flight out of new york/newark this morning WAS, infact, cancelled. higgins would have, presumeably, been coming from either denver or cali (and could feasibly have arrived last night). if you wanna go crazy on the maths, kotalik's flight was due to depart at 745. there was an 850 to yyz and he could have then jumped a noon flight, which would have had him in calgary about 15 mins after practice started. ie: i'm sure he's here now. you can stop the wishful thinking that daz traded up...
at practice, there was an obvious white jersey missing from the langkow line. with higgins taking the right wing, it's pretty clear that kotalik would have slotted in on the left. the only thing leaving ME wonder if kotalik will ever suit up in a flaming C was the fact that higgins appears to be taking #21. with #12 clearly unavailable for the czech winger, i would have thought his seniority over higgins would give HIM olli's old number....
anyhow. here's the lines and my thoughts:
1. hagman - stajan - iginla (aka: the leafs line)
hagman's good. right now, he looks really, really, really good. stajan can pop the waterbottle, so that's also good. everything else was mediocre at best.
2. (presumeably kotalik) - langkow - higgins (aka: the rangers line)
hard to get a read on this with mcG and lundy taking turns on the left, here, but one thing is for sure: with their 2-day growth, langkow and higgins look like brothers. i'm keeping an open mind, here, partly because i thought higgins looked halfway decent (plus, langks is instant chemistry), and partly because i don't really seem to have a choice in the matter.
3. boyd - backlund - bourque (aka: the killer Bs)
to be totally honest, i think this line might be awesome... boyd and backlund have already proven they have a bit of chemistry, and if you sub in bourque for a struggling iginla it might just work. additionally, having two of the team's best PK guys on a line with their youngest forward is an insurance policy in the defensive zone.... could be interesting, to say the least.
4. glenX - mayers - nystrom
as far as fourth line goes, this one is a huge step up from anything else the flames have put together this year. mayers looks like an interesting mcG/prust cross who can take a faceoff and might actually score a goal or two. another thing is they're FAST. two more solid PK guys together make me think they might do well in their own zone, and mayers seems a forward move from freddan when we talk about goals.... curiouser and curiouser.
the REALLY good news is that we can try these combos out on a struggling canes team, and not have to put them to the test against an elite opponent.
- i heart nystrom. higgins spent much of the warmup by himself, but nystrom gave him a sortof quasi half-hug midway thru practice and they had a few laughs. i like that those guys are buds. as we learned last night, there is a human element to this game and it's nice to see a newguy get welcomed into the fold....
- i heart noodles. mostly because he's got astroboy hair.
- the mood at practice seemed relatively light, though brent did have a good fifteen-or-so minute talk to his troops right off the top. glenX and kipper were laughing pretty hard at the end. ian white is more vocal than dion (and i thought dion was the loudest).
- backelhinney's stick has the hugest knob i've ever seen. he must use an entire roll of tape on that mofo. just sayin. check it out on the right:
here's a general pic where if you click to enlarge it you can pretty much see everyone. higgins in white.