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Friday, December 4, 2009
Let's see more of Neal-Modano-Lehtinen

By Richard Durrett

Because of how the game played out, we didn't get to see quite as much of the James Neal-Mike Modano-Jere Lehtinen line as we might have depending on matchups. But it was enough to make me want to see more.

As coach Marc Crawford said, James Neal looked more like the guy that was flying around early in the season. He was noticeable and, at times, seemed like the best skater on the ice. And he wasn't afraid to get a little physical. It does make you wonder if the two-game suspension didn't have him thinking about his game.

"The NHL wants players to think about it when they suspend them," Crawford said. "But they're not saying they don't want him to play with a physical edge. He just has to do it without the illegal hits."

Neal said he hasn't altered his game, but he has struggled to find a rhythm -- and the net -- until Thursday's 3-1 win over Anaheim.

"You're going to have your ups and downs," Neal said. "I've been playing the same way, I just haven't gotten the bounces, and then got a lucky bounce tonight. Hopefully it gets things going again."

Modano said he was pleased with the line, though he'd like to see them have possession of the puck more and do a better job of attacking the offensive zone. Let's hope that line stays intact and he gets a chance to do that on Saturday afternoon against Edmonton.