Erik Christensen keeps proving to people that he has talent (see goal vs. Buffalo) then keeps reminding people that he is completely unsuitable for top line play (see Islanders game). Brandon Dubinsky has started the season very strongly and if Tortorella wasn’t going to keep him at left wing anyway, he will now. Prospal is out, Drury isn’t available and Derek Stepan’s unit has looked good (thus far) as a combination. So all of this begs a question; does Anisimov now get a chance to anchor the top line and help bring Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov more into focus?
This question and its cause and affects has its pros and cons. Anisimov’s line, also featuring Dubinsky and Callahan, has like Stepan’s line, started the season well offensively so it would be very interesting to see whether the coaching staff would be willing to break up obvious chemistry as well as mix up his (at this stage) best lines. It does represent risk. The problem is, the top wingers need to get going. The Rangers season won’t go anywhere without Frolov and Gaborik leading the way. Meanwhile Anisimov has started well at both ends of the rink. He has shown off his offensive ability, has shown he can keep and cycle the puck and has proven responsible in his own end. Anisimov is proving he is deserving of top 6 minutes and given the situation with the other centers he is probably the best option for Gaborik’s running mate. Would an in-form Artie be enough to ignite and let loose Gabby and Frolov?
So, do you risk it and mix it all up? Why not. It’s two games in to the year and nothing should be set in stone but while it is indeed early Gaborik needs to get into full flow sooner rather than later. Anisimov has started the season like he ended the last. He’s slowly becoming a key cog for the Rangers and given his blend of skill, size and two-way conscience seems ideally placed to feature on the top line. At least that is, until the veterans return. Despite the loss to the Isles and the relative hot start to the season by the Leafs, it would be easier to risk change at home against the Leafs than it would be against upcoming opponents Boston and new Jersey.