Since we often preach patience and the long-view around here, I find it very difficult to identify specific narrative topics when the season is only five games old. Many of our observations will normalize or end up a blip on the big picture radar. Most sample sizes are too small, trends too tenuous and in the case of the Rangers, too injury dependent. Once Stepan and Boyle return, we will start to see the true colors of this team, but until then, I feel like some random thoughts are more appropriate than digging into too much data or player performance numbers. I’ll be curious to see if your thoughts are consistent with mine during this time of upheaval…
- Is it wrong that I was excited just to see that second win so things didn’t spiral out of control like last October?
- Man, Lee Stempniak has been great. We all were fully on-board with the signing when it happened, but he has gotten off to a much better start than we could have reasonably expected.
- Ryan McDonagh played over 30 minutes last night. In October. Loco.
- Rick Nash is a monster. I had a feeling that the post-concussion symptoms were holding him back last season. He was horribly snake bitten in the playoffs, but has broken out again in a big way to start this year. Goals aside, he had made strong moves to the net, utilizing his size and reach with great results. If he can stay healthy, he will be an absolute force this season.
- It’s definitely been talked about before, but the rejiggering of the lines once Stepan comes back will be very interesting to watch. I don’t think it’ll be a clear cut decision AV makes, I assume he will tinker for a while before he arrives at a more defined plan.
- We sure could use another half-way decent defenseman…
- Hank looked good last night. The ripple effect from a disorganized defense to the goaltender is not often discussed. Sure, the most obvious effect is that the opposing offense generates more high-percentage chances. What is often overlooked is that the goaltender has to hedge against more options coming at him in the zone. This effect can often leave you slightly off-balance as you are attempting to stay conscious of offensive options that are usually covered, and can leave you caught in-between on your timing and positioning.
- I will also be interested to see what happens with Anthony Duclair when Stepan returns. He has been very good, but that initial adrenaline rush of his arrival on the scene has subsided to a degree. Will cooler heads prevail and send him to juniors, or do you think he has shown enough to stick?
- Kevin Hayes has looked better and better each game. With Hayes, Malone, Nash and Kreider in the lineup, all of a sudden this isn’t a team full of diminutive skill players. If Hayes can develop into a 2C long-term, it will be a huge coup.
- Everyone still has the impression that the 7th or 8th defenseman is filling in for the departed Anton Stralman. If Stralman had been retained (thus eliminating Boyle’s arrival) and he had gotten hurt, we’d be in the same boat. Can’t really get my head around this one.
- At least the schedule starts to normalize over the next few weeks. No more of this 5 games in 7 nights stuff. Hopefully AV will have more time to work on things in practice and get everything ironed out before we get our injured guys back. An objective assessment of where guys like Duclair, Hayes and Malone are will go a long way in determining the most productive roster arrangement.
- After three rough games, I feel like the team is in a decent place. There were some real positive signs on the offense, and the power play has shown signs of life, even if they haven’t converted yet. Its still very much a feeling out process, but I feel like this team has a ton of youth and upside. The best is still yet to come.
The Sharks come to town tomorrow, and as Dave mentioned yesterday morning, it will be a big test. Festivities kick of at 5pm.