Thoughts following Thursday night’s shootout win

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

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.

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  • 12 thoughts and no complaints about Glasss?????

    Hayes has looked good and brings some size / reach that’s needed

    Duclair has been great, would like to see him stay up. He needs top 9 minutes though which would push Stempniak (great start) or Hagelin (not great start) to the “4th line”

  • Hank usually starts slow, and with Boyle going down that didn’t help. He, and the defense will play better.

    Duclair should go down upon Stepan’s return. No way do we play Hags 4th line, he earned his roster spot.

    Nash is healed. A man his size should dominate, and he will, if healthy.

    Stempniak is a quality player. Watched him last season with the Pens, I knew what kind of player he is, streaky, but solid 2 way. Very good move signing him.

    Hayes is the biggest surprise to me, and if he continues at his current rate, well the 2C is his for years to come. Over all, his play is good, and solid 2 ways.

    Upon Stepan’s return, the lines look like this::

    Moore-Malone-Glass (Fast who will return)

    Our team defense will also improve because Step is solid 2 ways!!!!!

  • I’m going to be the first to say Lee Stempniak is not as good as everyone is saying 2 goals 2 assists 2 giveaways. I did not see anyone brag about him the last game. Would be a good 4th liner.Its only an early opinion so don’t take your shirt off yet.

  • We need points right now. I don’t care how we get them but we need as many as we can get while Boyle and Stepan are out. I’m not gonna go crazy yet either, it’s very early.

    If we can get to December playing about .500 hockey without our 1C and top 4D and PP QB, with all the kids in the lineup learning on the job … I’ll take it.

  • I think Duclair’s days are numbered. He was skating as an extra forward today

    Lines were
    Hayes with Kreider and Nash
    Brassard with Zuke and MSL
    Moore with Hagelin and Stempniak
    Mueller with Malone and Glass

    Very interesting lines

  • I agree with a lot of what you said.

    Duclair is the odd man out when Step comes back. I liked him in preseason, but he hasn’t been as impressive again real teams. In spurts, sure, he makes a nice move to the net, or he back checks effectively and steals the puck, but so often he isn’t involved, or is skating lazily without the puck. He’s going to be good, but AV will send him back to the Q as soon as Step is back, if not sooner, to work on his play away from the puck. I’m excited to see him next year. How motivated he’ll be.

    Hayes is a nice surprise so far, but I’m hesitant to say how good he’ll be. Just a small sample size so far is all. If he becomes the 2C, what happens to Brassard? Do we go back to him and Zucc back on the third line?

    And related, I’m excited for Krieder to play with them. He’ll be a super-Puliot.

    Surprised you mentioned nothing about Glass. He’s been okay, but playing him over Fast seems like a strange decision. Something shady, lol.

    What I really disagree with was Girardi’s contract last year. It really screwed Strallman over. When we went after Boyle, we knew we couldn’t get both with Girardi’s contract in tow. And while I like him, I’m not sure how long he’ll be so effective.

    I also think that if we could have gotten all three, we would’ve in a heartbeat. Boyle would be great 5D. Klein becomes the 7D, Moore the 6, and he gets the benefits of working with a veteran like Boyle. The ideal.

    Wow, those lines are unusual. Good lord, does that highlight our lack of center depth, too.

    A lot of hope in one Brady Skjei.

    Miller better get his act together quickly. His spot on this team, will all this young potential, was tenuous at best, as evidenced by his strong preseason and still being sent down. Not distinguishing yourself here will make you trade bait.

    This could be a monster year for Nash. Two pass first kind of players on his line, and his favorite shooting spot on the first PP unit? Woo-ee. Po-ten-tial.

    I will also take 0.500 until they get back.

    Unfortunately, Stemp is done after this year. Too many talented wings in the system. But he’s played well so far. Call me pleasantly surprised.

    Sorry, that may have been a little long. Been a long time reader, just needed to comment.

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