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11-10-2012, 07:40 AM
Kruger Line=2.75 Men
Join Date: Jan 2008
So, made it out of work in time to make it home, change clothes, eat a 2 minute meal, grab a son, and take the 35 minute trip to the Van Andel Arena, where the Griffins play. Got there 15 minutes before game time only to face a 50 minute wait to get tickets. Damn $1 beer night. Sigh.
Tickets to the left and behind Hogs bench, 11 rows up. Into seats with 3:30 left in the first, score tied 2-2. Griffins proceed to score. Period ends 3-2 Hogs down.
Of note, the lines were shuffled mercilessly. It seemed as if I didn't see the same line combo out there twice! One power play had St.Pierre, Pirri and Kruger as the three forwards!!?? Also, don't know the final tally, but the Hogs won the vast majority of the faceoffs, typically St. Pierre, but also Pirri and even Kruger.
Had all of maybe 10 minutes of game time to watch him. The most obvious elite facet of his game is his hand-eye coordination. Until his hit-to-head penalty that got him tossed from the game
, he looked pretty good. Looked like he was bumped up onto the third line, and also played on the PP. Seemed defensively aware, covering the offensive point on 2-3 occasions, back-checking, board battles, etc... Very quick release on his shot even with bodies flying around him. This is the kind of guy that doesn't need to have plus speed to impact a game. Much like a second baseman who maybe lacks a bit of range but who makes up for it through better positioning, Beach only needs to read the play and put himself in the proper position to let loose his wicked shot. He really is a big boy, and doesn't get pushed around much. The only times his average speed might be of concern are when he's trailing a play or busting down a wing.
This is a guy who just seems to find the puck. Didn't really pay attention to him specifically, but then he would appear in a passing lane and disrupt a play. Has a pretty good shot, seemed a little out of game shape, and is deceptively fast, skating with a hunched/low to ice style that makes him appear slower than he is. Played a little on the power play (on the point even), and was juggled into the first line at times. I was standing in line for tickets when he scored. Will need to see more of him in the future to better judge him.
Any line with Pirri spent most of each shift in the offensive zone, dominating puck possession. He passes well, sets up plays, has a fine shot with a good release, finds open space with or without the puck, doesn't panic, and looks very comfortable at this level. I had a much better look at the neutral and defensive zones this game than the last one, and I have to say Pirri's effort on the back-check was very good though not ferocious, as often it was near the end of a shift where the play had been in the offensive zone and the Griffins finally found a way to break out. He never dogged it defensively, covered the point offensively on a couple of occasions, went to the boards, and even attacked the point defensively once or twice. He certainly looks ready to take the next step. No points, but he had a very strong game.
Any line with Bollig spent most of the shift in the defensive zone, and if the puck managed to come out, the play went right back in. He hasn't looked good in either of the games I've seen. Low puck skills and lack of hockey sense.
He seems to view the AHL as his personal offensive playground, rushing the puck almost every chance he gets, and forcing one of the forwards to drop back almost every shift. He's fast and can turn the corner when he does it, but I'd rather he learn to clear the crease and man the point. He passes well, and has an average shot for a Dman.
Another strong game from him. Lined up at both right and left wings. With Pirri and Beach early on, and with Saad also, they had their way with the Griffins. Drove down the right wing in the third period and got off a shot that handcuffed the goalie. Would have rather seen him turn the corner and drive to the net that time, but he clearly beat both defensemen with speed down the boards (first one beat by self pass off the boards between blue and red line, second one had the angle on Morin, but Morin bullied past him inside the offensive blue line).
Kruger had a bad game. He took a pointless penalty in the defensive end which led to a goal, was knocked down repeatedly along the boards and in front of the net, and wasted every power play that the Hogs had. Inexplicably, he's on the first PP unit, ostensibly because he passes well. His one assist was on a neutral zone regroup pass to the left dman Stanton, who quickly passed it up on the left wing to Hayes, who scored short-handed (Beach penalty) on a rising wrister from the top of the circle. He had a terrible giveaway in our defensive zone where he "passed" the puck perfectly to the Griffins left dman
on a breakout, and only a fine save by Hutton prevented a goal. He has average speed, but does hustle. Again, if he's not having a plus game intellectually out there, he's physically and skillfully not able to overcome it.
Big guy who skates deceptively well. Doesn't hurt the team defensively and seems to have a nose for the play. Nice goal (see above), but I missed his assists (see above
). Strong physically. Matchup problems for other teams when the Hawks season starts, I can see him playing really on any line, though right now best suited for the 3rd or 4th lines.
Stanton and Lavin, Lavin and Stanton:
Stanton had a better game in terms of puck movement and passing perhaps, but overall these two are quite similar. Maybe Lavin seems a tad more offensive-minded, and Stanton more defensive. They are almost identical in stature, handedness, position, physicality, and ironically age. I can see either as a future 5-6 dman in the NHL, but likely not both on the Hawks. I'd have to see more of these two, and really concentrate on them during the game (at the game, not on tv), to find some separation between them.
All goals seemed high up in the net. Some strong saves on shots down low through traffic. I'm pretty sure the Hogs handily outshot the Griffins, but Hutton let in some savable shots. I'm sick of seeing Smith score on Hutton.
Except for St.Pierre, the rest were nothing to write home about. Easily the weak link on this team is the defense, and Clendening, Lalonde, and Lebda (particularly) were either average at best or sub-par. LeBlanc, Paradis, Smith, and Flick were indistinguishable bodies out there, sometimes doing good, sometimes bad, and mostly un-noticeable.
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