Homer is a warrior, but his game is playing off of players like Z or Dats. He's not a 4th liner, hence the lack of identity. Cleary could be a beast down there and give his brand of gritty game on the 4th line, plus I think he'd be man enough to accept that role as well.
I think when we're all healthy, our 3rd line of Abdelkader-Helm-Miller is pretty good (and would make an even better 4th line), but I totally agree with everyone that our 4th line is completely lacking in identity and purpose. My hope is that the veterans like Homer and Cleary will turn it up in the playoffs - they've been warriors for us in the post-season, but I wonder how much their bodies have left to give.
The analogy of the car, whilst quaint and eloquent, is misleading. It suggests that when we lose one piece the others fall apart. It's more like taking the four wheels to be Dats, Lids, Z, Howie (say for arguments sake) then when they're injured replacing them with a milk crate, a corner section of Scalextric track, an overused VHS of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, and a Fast Break. I know I'm being flippant, but the current situation isn't like we're a crap team who utterly, completely must have them to function whilst other teams can deal with it, it's simply that we're stacked with injuries at the moment and the players who are being asked to come in and replace them either haven't developed yet or are severely inexperienced. In short, they're just DIFFERENT pieces. Whoever it was that said teams like the Pens don't fail like this, I'd like to see them without star centre Crosby AND top scorer Malkin... AND starting goaltender Fleury for that matter........ AND a top-line defencemen like Orpik. Because that's what we've been going through. Not to mention we had players like Bert out (so say, take out Staal there), Helm now....
We're simply injured. It's a bit of a kick in the face to say that without a few certain parts this team isn't worth jack.
I miss Aaron Downey