Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/5/11

John Tortorella has tried multiple players for the left wing spot on the first line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik since the team traveled to Europe. We've seen Wojtek Wolski, Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko all get looks with the team's "dynamic duo". Most recently, though, we saw Brandon Dubinsky skate on that line in Monday's preseason loss to EV Zug in Switzerland. 

No one that Tortorella has put there has actually stuck for more than one or two preseason games, so I didn't think much of Dubinsky playing with Richie and Gabby on Monday. However, in the team's first of two practices before Saturday's season opener this morning, Dubinsky was again moved up to the first line left wing spot. 

And yes, the Rangers have already hit the ice for practice today since it is about 1:00 p.m. in Stockholm, Sweden right now. The offensive lines looked like this, per Dan Rosen:

Dubinsky - Richards - Gaborik

Fedotenko - Anisimov - Callahan

Wolski - Stepan - Zuccarello

Rupp - Boyle - Prust/Christensen

The fact that Tortorella has went back to that top trio for today's practice indicates to me that he liked what he saw out of Dubi with Richards and Gaborik on Monday, and I must admit that I did as well. Dubinsky plays a dirtier game than Brad and Marian, and I mean that in the best way possible. He will always be first in on the forecheck, he will retrieve pucks in the corners and in those ways will get Gabby and Richards the puck in the offensive zone. Plus, he has a good skill set of his own that could be very beneficial to that line. 

My only concern with it, though, is that Torts may be stacking the first line instead of spreading the wealth. Let's be honest, I think anyone could be placed in that first line left wing spot and be able to produce with two superstars alongside of them. So is it necessary to put Dubinsky there? Is it worth it to break up the Dubi-Anisimov-Callahan threesome? 

I'm going to be honest here when I say I don't think this is a reasonable decision. The Richards-Gaborik line does not need Dubinsky to function while the Anisimov-Callahan line does. I'm not saying Artie and Cally can't handle themselves, because we know damn well that they can, but their line receives a significant boost when Dubinsky is on it. 

I didn't have much of a problem with Wolski skating on the first line at all and I actually thought he found himself with some prime scoring opportunities in that game against the Devils in Newark. Wolski has a surprising amount of skill and potential and if he is given the opportunity to put the puck in the net, more often than not he will do just that. I'm a little disappointed that Tortorella stripped him off that first line so soon, because Wojtek was having a fabulous camp playing there. 

So I'm not saying that Dubinsky is a lock for the first line, but with only two full days before Friday's opener, I think the chances we see him start there are high. I just hope that the coach is considering the effect this move has on the entire lineup, not just one line, because it does change the look of the offense quite a bit now. 

Oh and I should also mention that defenseman Michael Sauer was skating in practice today on a pairing with Michael Del Zotto. So for those of you who were complaining about splitting the pairings up, it looks like Ryan McDonagh will start the season on the top duo with Dan Girardi, so you will not be getting your wish.

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