For the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about what will happen when/ if Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly were able to return to the lineup. Frankly, I didn't think this would be something that could realistically happen--as most of us probably thought. However, with the numerous practices both have participated in lately, it's looking highly probable.
A huge part of me thinks that things needs to be shaken up. That maybe we're missing veteran leadership on the bench. Would Saturday night have happened if #26 was on the bench? What about O'Reilly's sure hand in the face off circle, and the scoring touch he had discovered before his freak injury. Are they better than JP and Halischuk? (ok...that's an easy answer)
Does a shake up need to happen? Possibly.
Are we missing veteran leadership on the bench? Probably.
Can O'Reilly help? He can't hurt.
And hell yes they're better than 71 and 24.
But will they make a difference come playoff time? I dont think so. They're not in hockey shape. The Legs Feed the Wolf, and both are coming off severe lower body injuries--with Sully's being the scariest due to his history.
Steve Sullivan has not been the same player this year. Period. When he returned from his most recent injury, he was slow physically, was battling himself, and for the first time I can ever remember, was slow mentally.
I think O'Reilly might be able to help a little more, but he's not the answer.
The KEY to the Preds making a run is to improve their defensive game, which has been lackluster in recent games. Honestly, I think they're exhausted, as Weber and Suter are grabbing a ridiculous amount of ice time...yet, do any of us OTHER THAN Trotzy trust O'Brien and Klein? I doubt it.
I think the balance of this team would have been different had Lombardi not gone down early. Oh well. Crap happens. Good teams battle through.
What do yall think?