2012 AAA Bio Thread
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11-22-2012, 10:45 PM
MLD Glue Guy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BC, Canada
LW/RW James Neal
6'2, 208 lbs, Shoots Left
113 G, 105 A, 218 Pts in 314 GP
11-12 1st Team All-Star (at RW)
11-12 "3rd Team All-Star" (at LW)
Played in 2012 All-Star Game
4th in Goals 11-12
7th in Points 11-12
Knows where to go to score goals. Has a very good shot, and he loves to use it. Also boasts very good size, which he uses effectively in the corners and in front of the net. Scores goals often because of a quick trigger.
His physical game lacks consistency, which could be all that is preventing him from becoming an elite NHLer. Won't do all the things usually associated with a power forward. Can at times take bad penalties, though.
Although his qualifications as a goal-scorer were clear when the Penguins traded for him -- Neal got 22 or more in each of his first three NHL seasons -- his scoring touch had deserted him in the early months with them.
"It was tough when I first got here," Neal said. "I wanted to do good things, and it just wasn't happening."
It happened quickly last season, however. Neal scored in a season-opening 4-3 shootout victory in Vancouver, and averaged one every other game for the balance of the schedule.
He finished with 13 more than his previous career-high, was honored as a first-team all-star and ratcheted up expectations for 2012-13 and the seasons that follow.
"I don't think it was a fluke," said left winger Chris Kunitz, who worked on a line with Neal and center Evgeni Malkin. "It's something he works hard for."
Neal credits his linemates with much of his success last season.
"Playing with [Malkin and Kunitz] has helped me a lot," he said. "[Malkin] was a huge factor. He's a special guy and fun to play with."
Especially when Neal's skills set dovetails so nicely with that of Malkin. Neal has a knack for finding his way to spots where Malkin can get him the puck, then launching it toward the net almost as soon as it touches his blade.
"He has that unbelievable quick shot that he can get off from anywhere, it seems, and get a quality shot on net," Kunitz said.
While there appears to be a synergy with that line, or at least an ability for its members to complement one another, Kunitz believes that simply getting settled in to his surroundings played a significant role in what Neal accomplished last season.
"When he first got here, he didn't feel as comfortable," he said. "It's a lot for a guy to get traded to a new city. If you don't click right away, things kind of go bad, maybe you start thinking negative.
Although he didn't put up points, you saw the way James Neal could play. He's a dangerous player. He can skate. He's a physical player. And he also obviously can shoot the lights off the puck. He's done all those things.
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