Predator Grades at The 1/4 Season Mark
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11-28-2005, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Dickson, TN
Good thread P303.
My $0.02 worth...
You can't argue with a 14-3-3 record. It's far and away the best this franchise has seen in its short history and one of the best in the league this year. The absolute best feeling to have as a Preds' fan is the knowledge that this team should get better as the year progresses and they mature and gel further. You have to feel that Markov continues to grow with his teammates and Kariya, Legwand and Erat continue to gel. You expect Sully to continue contributing at a high level.
There are two areas this team where this team could be better: road games and their lack of focus at times (usually the second period of games). Their road record, in comparison to their home record could improve some. Their tendency to lose focus and basically allow the opposing team to turn the game into some carnival-like shooting gallery is a little disconcerting.
Again, it's hard to argue with the record, but the lines have been a little strange at times (injuries have been a factor). That appears to be normalizing fortunately. The special teams, both the PP and PK, could be a little more consistent, but that's really picking nits.
Tomas Vokoun- Easily the team's MVP. Outside of first Edmonton game @ the GEC, the Predators have been in every game and he's the reason.
Steve Sullivan- Runner-up (by a fair distance) for the team MVP through the first quarter. His enthusiasm for the team and the faith management had in him with his new contract are really paying huge dividends. Quality, quality guy with tons of skill, speed, and character.
Paul Kariya- The rust shows. He hasn't completely clicked with his linemates. He hasn't consistently buried the great scoring chances he's getting from Legwand yet. That said, his impact on this team is telling- on and off the ice. He's an offensive leader on this team and a huge team player. He's immediate connection with Sully is probably the next reason after Vokoun that our record is what it is. I expect his point total of the last half of the season to be near a 2PPG pace with the rust knocked off.
Kimmo Timonen- Still our best all-around defenseman, although Hammer is closing fast. Very strong veteran presence on a young team. Another very strong character guy.
Dan Hamhuis- It's hard to believe he's a second year player (NHL-wise anyway). This kid will be a Norris contender in the next couple of years. He has become such a strong positional defender and has really excelled on the poke-check.
Chris Mason- How can a backup tender do any more than he's done?
David Legwand- David's still one of the better two-way centers around. If Kariya, and a few others, finish those great passes he's been making, his point total is much higher- just can't penalize Leggy for the other's lack of finishing.
Scott Hartnell- Dumb penalties have to stop. That said, he's our Mr. Clutch during non-shootout play. He should only get better and better.
Marek Zidlicky- Still needs to show a little more defensive responsibility, but his offense is reallly starting to come around.
Ryan Suter- A rookie has no business playing as well as he is. Amazing to have that happen two years in a row.
Martin Erat- Slow start, muuuch better now. Definitely hasn't lost his puckhandling skills.
Mark Eaton and Danny Markov- Much like Erat, started waaay slow. They have both picked it up as of late and showing their potential as stay-at-home dmen with the ability to make that outlet pass.
Adam Hall- Finally starting to show that potential he displayed at the end of last season.
Jared Smithson- Smithson has been our best fourth line center. He does his job well as a physical checking center that can PK. He really came up and sparked the team for a couple of games.
Darcy Hordichuk and Jeremy Stevenson- Both have done a really good job of being the team's enforcers while still contributing on the ice in other ways.
Greg Johnson- The captain has lost a little bit of speed, but is still solid on the PK and checking line.
Yanic Perreault- A little too lazy at times and not defensively responsible, but he does come up with some timely, and crafty, goals. He seems to be teaching the others on their faceoffs as well. That shouldn't be overlooked given our better ability to PK.
Scottie Upshall- Scottie needs to contribute a little more on the offensive side of things, but he's definitely willing to mix it up physically.
Simon Gamache- Trotzy hasn't helped Gamache by putting him in the best position for him to succeed (a scoring line), but Simon has buried any of his shootout opportunities in the games that matter either.
Scot Walker and Scot Nichol- Not enough ice time to see an impact yet. That said, Walks was looking real good prior to his injury.
Whew, that was a long post!
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