Time to insert Eminger

Prior to Game Two, coach John Tortorella made a key decision for his lineup just before puck drop. With Brian Boyle able to play, Tortorella had to decide to sit one of Steve Eminger or Stu Bickel. Both played in Game One, and neither hit five minutes of ice time. Bickel has not been seeing anywhere near the ice time he saw in the regular season, and Eminger has only played in one playoff game since permanently losing his spot to Bickel.

After Bickel’s giveaway led to the Mike Knuble goal on Monday, Bickel saw just one more shift, and it wasn’t until midway through the second period. After that one shift, he didn’t play again for the rest of the game.

So now it is likely that Eminger will be inserted into the lineup. With Bickel in the chateau-bow-wow, it only makes logical sense that Eminger will dress in Bickel’s place. But dressing Eminger comes with some uncertainty as he has not been the same Steve Eminger since separating his shoulder in December.

When it comes to expectations, it might be best to have no expectations. It is unlikely that Eminger will even see more than five minutes of ice time, as Torts seems to be riding his top five defensemen rather consistently this postseason. In fact, Eminger may wind up with the same amount of ice time as Bickel, so the difference in dressing one over the other may be relatively small.

Another factor to consider is that Eminger’s foot speed is better than Bickel’s –albeit marginally– so he may be better suited against a skill team like Washington. Where Bickel faltered because he stumbled to a loose puck and was rushed into giving it away, Eminger’s better skating ability might not have caused that same turnover. It’s dangerous when you play with hypothetical situations, but it has to be considered.

What Eminger lacks is the toughness that Bickel would bring to the lineup. This series hasn’t been like the Ottawa series yet, as there hasn’t been much “dirty” play, but the presence of Bickel is something that is noted by the opposition. Eminger does not bring that intimidation factor.

Torts is likely going to make the right move in sitting Bickel for Eminger tonight, and there really is nothing to lose. Bickel was not playing much, and likely wasn’t going to play at all following that awful turnover. Seeing what Eminger has to give to the lineup –at his real position– is a low risk switch that may pay great dividends if Eminger shows he can be a more useful piece than Bickel.

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  • Eminger gives me more of a “comfort level” then Bickel. I like Stu, and his physical presence is not to be taken lightly. But I agree that against this Caps team, that may not be needed as much as a more steady presence on D.

    • Play Bickel period. Stu is the future.He needs to continue to learn to play at this time of year.Eminger will not be a part of this team when it really challenges for the cup.If Sauer can’t return Bickel may be just the man to take one of the top six spots.Can’t wait for Dylan and JT.

    • Sauer must be in the same shape as Pronger since we have neither seen or heard about him in a long time.

        • Lets hope that Mike isn’t in the same boat as Pronger. If Pronger is smart, he should retire, he has nothing to prove at all, has at least one cup to his name. Also made a load of money, so that shouldn’t a motivater!

          Mike Sauer is younger, and hopefully gets healthy soon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Mike had his fair share of injuries, but this is his first concussion. Mike, we miss you, and all want to see a speedy recovery.

  • Suiting up Bickel and playing him for 3 minutes in a triple overtime game is a joke. Give Emminger a chance. Or bring up Tim Erixon and add some more offense.

  • This is the part of Tortorella’s coaching I don’t like, he plays favorites. Bickel makes one mistake and he is now incapable of playing any minutes. If that is the case, then he needs to take a long hard look at how Fedotenko is playing. Feds generates little to no offense, is good for a turnover or two each game, and usually one lazy penalty. But he gets his ice time. Same thing with Mitchell, except he doesn’t take penalities. Erixon is incapable of playing playoff minutes, and I have serious doubts whether he will ever be a top four defenseman. I have seen little on the offensive end, and nothing on the defensive end.

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