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03-10-2004, 08:44 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Ottawa
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Having watched Rachunek play nearly every game since he came into the league, here's a bit of what you can expect...

The Good
- an awkward, but solid skating stride that can lug the puck up ice. He is a solid skater, although you'll never see him go end-to-end
- a great first pass. He can really move the puck and has solid transitional vision. Perhaps his biggest strength, and why he fit in Ottawa at times very well.
- a solid PP quarterback, although he hasn't played that role in a while. Used to consistently feed Yashin for one timers through the box. Under-utilized in Ottawa, but mostly because there were better alternatives in Alfredsson, Chara and Redden.
- A good shot, although for some reason he only scored once on 99 shots this year. Last year was similar, leading me to believe he has a good shot, he just doesn't always know where it's going.
- He'll pinch to create opportunities, but we've seen less of it the last two years
- I can't count the number of times he's dropped to the ice to let a pass fall into his body on a 2 on 1, or 3 on 2 eliminating a scoring chance. High risk, high reward play though.
- he's cheap $'wise, and will probably be resigned without a huge raise given the year he's had.

The Bad
- when chasing the puck back in his own end, has been really reluctant since his shoulder injuries to take a hit. This has been very frustrating, as he gives up the puck in battles based on his unwillingness to move the puck quickly and take the hit by the pursuing forechecker. In stead, he SLOWS DOWN, to minimize contact, and turns into a one on one battle for the puck with the forechecker. This lead to the Devils 2nd goal in game 7 (I don't even want to talk about what he did on the game winner)
- he used to be very physical, and can throw a hit (and has the frame to do it), but he has just ceased to become a physical defenceman. I used to think it was the shoulder injuries, but that was a few years ago.
- one-on-one he's ok, but he's struggles sometimes on the cycle and containing his man.
- occasionaly his flopping to the ice to completely block a passing lane doesn't work, and he slides right out of the play.

The Ugly
- the occasional wiff on a hip check. There is nothing worse than a missed hip check, because you might as well not be on the ice. The hip check is sweet when it works, but it's simply not that physical a play, and I've also felt he got into this bad habit because of his shoulder injuries in past. But again, it's been too long to blame the shoulder. His effective percentage on the hip checks is also less than 50%, which means he simply should never do one.
- the flopping to the ice to block a pass, and getting beat by a d-man. I know it's in the bad, but it can also be downright ugly. See missed hip check.

Overall though, he's only 24 and has everything you need in a top 4 two-way d-man. Pairing him with another solid puck mover seems to make the most sense, as he was really not that effective when NOT paired with Redden. So don't expect him to carry a defensive pairing This is one of the reasons Ottawa fans are just not sure about him. How much was Redden a factor in his success? But at the same time, there were nights he and Redden were the best defensive pair on the ice, and it simply wasn't all Redden. Rachunek had some great night for Ottawa over the last few years. Offensively, he's certainly capable of 10 goals and 40 points a year.

The question is, do you pair him with a physical d-man that allows his offensive game to flourish, or do you pair him with a puck moving guy that forces him into more of a two-way roll? That is a question that was never answered definitively in Ottawa, other than pairing him with an elite d-man like Redden.

Last edited by Dr.Sens(e): 03-10-2004 at 08:47 AM.
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