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12-13-2008, 11:33 PM
  #17
worstfaceoffmanever
These Snacks Are Odd
 
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Location: Winston-Salem, NC
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Only four real complaints from tonight's game:

1.) Dumont's penalty was flat-out stupid on his part. He cost us a power play.
2.) Between the two of them, Erat and Legwand fart around with the puck entirely too much.
3.) This is pretty minor, but it still bothers me. We have to work on getting the puck back up high when we have it down low. Twice in the first period, Klein was sitting dead center in the high slot (very high slot, near the blue line) waiting for the puck to be kicked back out to him. The first time, nobody saw him. The second time, De Vries tries to take the shot himself and ends up turning the puck over. If that was Weber, the team would be doing everything they could to get him the puck, but not with Klein. The guy isn't freaking Zanon, let him take the shot!
4.) Near the end of the first period, we just led Dallas cycle and control the puck down in the corner and never forced them off the puck. This is where we need that one punishing physical presence on the blue line, like a Witt or a Boynton, that isn't afraid to lay the body on somebody to knock them off the puck, follow through on a hit, and break that cycle. Hamhuis and Zanon sure didn't do it very effectively.

Other than that, a few observations:

- Dallas' power play is absolutely atrocious. Easily worse than ours. Puck movement is subpar and they don't go to the net nearly as much as they should. Morrow's absence from the lineup really hurts them in this regard.
- Ellis played an excellent game tonight. He saw almost every shot he faced, and did a tremendous job head-manning a few rushes with his play on the puck, something Callahan pointed out in the post-game.
- Over the last eight games or so, I haven't really been all that impressed with Ward's play, but tonight he brought the whole package. He's really becoming a fan favorite, and I certainly wouldn't be opposed to signing him to a two-year extension (nudge, nudge).
- Ward's goal was an excellent example of his high hockey-IQ. He sees Stephan coming out to play the angle, thinking he'll take the slap shot. Ward pulls back, skates around him with some nice stick work and flips the puck into the net. Ward has some of the best vision on the team, and that was a big reason why he scored this goal, one which Smithson or Tootoo would likely have just shot into Stephan's stomach.
- I liked the game Tootoo played tonight. He played with energy, tenacity, hit when it was prudent and I liked his willingness to play down low. If he keeps playing like that, he's going to earn the trust of the staff and get himself some more ice time.
- Stephan's Vokoun impression is uncanny. He was flopping all over the place tonight. He came out of his net and played the angles even when it wasn't really prudent or necessary, something I see in the Euro elite league games and highlights I watch. He makes the style work pretty well, though, and he's certainly got some potential at only 24.
- Legwand with a really nice goal on the second tally. Smithson and Tootoo do a great job of controlling the puck along the boards, and Legwand takes it out of the corner, driving the net with Tootoo running a screen. He flips it in under the five-hole, but it's hard to say Stephan ever saw the original shot with a pair of bodies (Tootoo and the Dallas defenseman) in front of the net. Legwand played a solid game tonight and he deserved a goal.
- That Tootoo-Bonk-Smithson line is really coming together. I wish we could pick up another scorer and bump Smithson off of that line in favor of Ward so it could be that much better of a third line.
- I thought Peverley had a decent game. He seems to be playing a bit more aggressively and is getting his confidence back.
- If Pihlström can ever find his finish consistently at this level, he's going to be one hell of a hockey player. He's an absolute firecracker out there and is also effective on the penalty kill.
- Didn't think Arnott had that great of a game. His timing just seemed a touch off, but that's all it takes.
- I wanted to bring up something that Grimson brought up in post-game: Zanon's shot blocking ability. Stu talked about how some guys are just hard-wired for shot-blocking or open-ice hitting. It's something you can't really teach. I think that's what makes Zanon such an effective defenseman, and it's why the coaching staff (and myself, as well) trust him on the ice when we need to hold a lead in a tight game.

I didn't think we played extremely well, but we played well and certainly played better than Dallas. This was a great way to close out a week of frustrating hockey. We still need a forward with more skill, preferably one who can play the boards and corners as effectively as Ward (the main reason he's on the first line).

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