The Daily Mumble – October 8th, 2014 – Oilers, Ekblad, Subban, Ward/Fleury and NYR Centers
This is the first edition of The Daily Mumble, a series where I will explain 5 thoughts on my mind in the world of hockey. Things from trades, to what I would do as the Coach/GM/Owner, to the latest NHL news to players/aspects to look out for. Basically whatever is on my mind at the time.
Edmonton On the Right Track
For the first time in a long time it can actually be said that Edmonton is in fact on the right track. The Oil have struggled in recent years despite the fact they had so many high draft picks. The reason seemed obvious to me, though it didn’t seem to be to them until recently. A team cannot survive the full season with just “star” material. A team needs the depth to rise making the bottom 6 almost as important as the top 6. This is why you see a team like the Dallas Stars making the playoffs last year. Benn and Seguin were complemented by the depth of players like Roussel and Garbutt. Edmonton now has a lineup that surpasses the top 6. Looking at their lineup, I would start the season like this:
Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu (Gazdic and Acton extras)
Klefbom-Petry (Nikitin on IR)
That is a scary lineup to me. Keep an eye on the young oil. They could actually surprise and snag a low playoff spot.
Ekblad Will Not Be a Calder Candidate
Whoa Whoa! The 1st overall pick not a Calder Candidate. Yes, I mean that. But don’t take this as a bad thing. There is a mixture of reasons for this. Ekblad is a fantastic player because of his style. He keeps it simple and makes no mistakes. He plays like a Tobias Enstrom. He’ll get the points but that is not his game. During his rookie season he will continue this. He will prove to the Panthers that he will be a guy they can depend on and not worry about. Because of this he will not focus on points in his rookie year. He is mature, and will focus on his game. With players like Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Kuznetsov and Jonathan Drouin being rookies this year, Ekblad will not be a big Candidate. Sure he may gain some votes, but no where near the top 3, maybe even top 5. He will have a decent start for points, maybe 23pts. But it will be his attitude and play that will wow us.
Habs Looking to Use PK on the PK
Yes, the famous PK Subban will get more ice time. The Habs are looking to get Subban more PK time. Likely to round out his game more, and to help replace the loss of Josh Gorges. I do have one concern however. My number one rule for a player is to not change his game if it is not broken. I am worried they will try to make Subban more defensive. This has been seen in the past. Mike Green was a threat every night offensively. Some even say he was a fourth forward on the ice for the Caps. The mixture of media and maybe even some locker room chat may have gotten to the head of the defenseman because suddenly he played a far more defensive game. The problem? That’s not his style. What he had worked and as soon as he changed it his value diminished drastically. The guy was fine. The Caps played more offensively anyways and this loss hurt the entire team. Give me a pen and I could easily connect the dots between Green’s downfall and the Cap’s playoff woes of recent years. Habs, be careful with your Subban.
Ward And Fleury Swap?
Ok, ok I know, sounds crazy… but it really isn’t. The Pens play a style where more times than not the puck is on the offensive end of the ice. When the puck does go to their end, defensively sound players like Martin are very capable of defending their zone. This means a good chunk of the shots on the Pittsburgh net have gone past all of this. What is the difference between this case for the Pens and other teams might you ask? Well this means most of these shots are real solid chances. There is a lot less of just plain lined up shots and a lot more breakaways or other one-on-one style challenges. Fleury was very good here. Many may remember his remarkable game saving save off Nik Lidstrom in the Stanley Cup Finals. A reflex goaltender works phenomenally for the Pens and really the same can be said about the Canes. A swap of the two reflex goaltenders could be what they both need to be woken up. Both have injury issues, so don’t even bother using that excuse because they cancel each other out.
Rangers Short At Center
Pardon the pun. Martin St. Louis has been talked about becoming the centerman for the Rangers to start the season due to a lack of players at center. Wow this is a scary thought. St. Louis has been a force on right wing for many years now. Sure he is capable of taking a faceoff here and there when Stamkos or someone was kicked out of the dot, but who are we kidding here? I have a theory which I call the cannonball effect. You see when a cannonball was fired on ships in the sea, it was not the cannon ball that made the damage. No, it was the shards of wood that flew everywhere hitting the men inside. Much like the cannonball, a significant loss can do the same to a hockey team. Sure, losing Stepan is a big loss and you can try to fill his spot with a Martin St. Louis, but the shards of wood are everywhere. Who will replace St. Louis on RW now? Without Stepan the amount of players who the opponents need to watch out for shrinks. What about the loss of voice on the bench or in the locker room? What about the size, I mean no way St. Louis fills that void. Sometimes you can’t look at the hole and try to fix that. Sometimes it is best to just worry about the shards of wood around it. Sometimes having the players of the same position move up can be enough. Brassard has surprised in the past for the Rangers. Allow players like St. Louis to stick to what they are good at. When players feel a loss they will compensate. Even without knowing it, sometimes it is just subconscious.