In Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, Vladimir Sobotka started off the night on the top line with T. J. Oshie and David Backes. The loss of Jamie Langenbrunner’s forcing coach Ken Hitchcock to be creative with his lines, and you gotta say — plunking Sobe in on the top line’s pretty dang creative. Sobotka has just three goals and 17 points this season, but he makes up for it with something that Hitch appreciates: moxie.
In an interview with the Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Hitchcock explains his unique line decision:
“He’s one of those guys that’s an underrated player, kind of a glue guy for the hockey club. He fits the way we play. You’re trying to build a work ethic and you’re trying to build an edge to your game and he’s a tough little guy. I think where he helps us is that when we get in trouble injury-wise or we get down roster-wise, he’s a guy that can step up and short-term play up the lineup just like he is right now.”
Last night’s experiment didn’t end well, but that was absolutely no fault of Sobotka’s — the game was just a bad one. Sobotka starting on to top line tonight — it’s assumed that he will — is another huge vote of confidence in the scrappy forward.