Marc Staal match-ups/TOI
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02-08-2012, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Brooklyn, of course
Originally Posted by
I agree his game isn't where it needs to be. But I think part of that is because he isn't really being put in positions to expand his game. Look at tonight. He was mostly put on the ice vs Clarksons line through the first two periods. Third period, he was being shifted away from Bickel, and played noticably better (as did the team round him).
He's mostly seen ice-time against the grinding lines of oppositions, and I think that limits his game-play. Those lines focus more defensively, and getting the puck deep on the NYR. There's very little high risk plays from grinding lines, where Staal can jump in and create something due to the opposing line "reaching" to create offense. That, coupled with his partner tending to lose position quite often (as he did twice tonight during the second period which led to prolonged offense vs the NYR for those shifts and then once more where he was forced to take an interference penalty), limits Staal being anything more than a dman that gets the puck down low and makes a smart play to move the puck outside our blue-line.
The comments about Staal not being an extremely good defenseman, and not having much worth to this team, I'm not even going to address. I've witnessed some of the dumbest arguments in history on this board, and I just file that away as nonsense. Staal hasn't looked poor at all defensively, and in both the Philly game and the Boston game, he was up on the rush regularly when he was seeing minutes with MDZ.
Girardi is a solid dude, and plays a strong all around game, but he doesn't have Staal's tools. To say he does because the team has seen success is like saying Woywitka is a top 4 guy because the team had strong success through a period where Woywitka and Eminger needed to be plugged into the top 4 when Torts was still shakey on MDZ in November.
Staal has manned up against the very best in this league for the passed few seasons, matching players like Kovalchuk, AO, Sid, Giroux, Malkin both with his mobility, his smart passing, his strength, and his determined and physical defensive play.
I don't think he should be replacing Girardi and McD on the top unit right now, but you better believe we need him to be better than Girardi come playoff time. This team needs Staal to be getting the ice-time and situations where he can alleviate the strain of only having one strong defensive pairing on a team that can struggle to find offense through stretches.
First off, I don't happen to be one of the people who thinks that Woywitka has been anything more than a stop-gap waiver wire pickup. And I really didn't want Eminger to be re-signed--I think he's at best a poor man's 6th defenseman who shouldn't being playing more than 30 or so games a year--although now that he's healthy, he should be in the lineup over Bickel (who I don't think is a NHL caliber defenseman).
That said, I also don't agree with your views of Staal or Girardi. Staal is still not back to the level he was before the concussion and I think Tortorella has used him properly since he's come back. There is a very good chance he won't be back at that level this year--he missed too much time on and off the ice. Who he's playing against and who his partner is, has not held him back.
Girardi, on the other hand, has earned every minute he's played this year. He's played at the highest level I've ever seen him play--and just as well as any 1st pair defensman in the league this year--and has been more consistant throughout the whole season than ever before as well. Without his play (and his ability to mesh with McD--who's been quite impressive as well for a rookie with less than 50 games of NHL experience at the beginning of the year), this team would have traded for another top 4 defenseman long ago, instead of having the luxury of plugging in players like Woywitka and Bickel.
I also think you're selling Strålman (who's been a very nice pick-up) and especially Del Zotto short. Del Zotto has proved that he is not only a NHL defenseman, but one who can play 20 and even 25 minutes a game. His defense has been solid and his puck moving/offensive abiility are improving as well. I had my doubts about him before this season, but he's done everything necessary in my mind to erase those doubts. He has been a big part of the success this team has had this season and I fully expect him to be a big part of whatever success the Rangers have going forward.
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