When he first put them together last October, people were confused. The Canucks brought in Sutter specifically to be their number two center. Why, then, were they deploying him in a position he had never played before?
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Playing a centerman at wing is hardly unprecedented. Ryan Kesler, for example, played on Mats Sundin‘s wing during the latter’s brief tenure as a Canuck. Markus Granlund played wing on Sutter’s line until recently. It’s not that unusual, even if this particular combination is counter-intuitive.
Still, Willie D says he likes the combination. And Sutter did score one of the Canucks’ two goals the other night with the help of a Daniel Sedin pass and a Henrik Sedin screen.
On the other hand, Vancouver just lost a game 7-2. It might be time to try something new.
Swap one crazy combination for another
So, why not try Bo Horvat with the Twins instead of Sutter?
I know, I know — it’s crazy. But answer me this: is it more crazy than playing Brandon Sutter there? It seems to me that any argument for not putting Horvat with the Twins works equally well for Sutter.
Since Desjardins is already playing Sutter with the Twins, he obviously doesn’t care about how crazy it is. We’re already down this rabbit hole, so let’s try to make the best of it.
There might be a couple advantages to putting Horvat together with the twins.
First, Horvat could use more minutes. We criticize Willie D for not using Horvat in more offensive situtation. The coach even started the year with his promising young center on the fourth line.
Fans want to see Horvat get a shot higher in the lineup. Well, it doesn’t get any higher than playing with the Sedins.
Second, the Canucks need more offense, and this would unite their three best offensive weapons.
Daniel and Henrik need a forechecker and shooter, preferably someone with good speed. Horvat, meanwhile, is not a great playmaker and is not currently playing with great playmakers. On paper at least, they seem like they would complement each other.
With Horvat on the top line, the Canucks lineup would probably look like this:
Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Bo Horvat Loui Eriksson — Brandon Sutter — Derek Dorsett Sven Baertschi — Markus Granlund — Alexandre Burrows Michael Chaput — Brendan Gaunce — Jack Skille
Granlund and Sven Baerstchi played together in pre-season, so that combination should work fine. Perhaps a new linemate could help Baertschi bump his slump.
Granted, this lineup does not look like a marked improvement from last game. But when Derek Dorsett plays on your second line, you already have problems. Maybe this could help squeeze just a little more offense out of the Canucks.
And if turns out it doesn’t work, Willie can stick Sutter straight back on the top line.