rate Stafford's season out of 10 so far this year.
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02-04-2013, 09:31 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Originally Posted by
There's a bigger issue here that hasn't been mentioned much, if at all. First thing is that FES was able to match-up as a "3rd" line last season, after the opponent prioritized the Vanek-Hodgson-Tropp line and then the Leino-Roy-Pominville line. This season a true 2nd scoring line is not being iced by Ruff, whether from Grigs not being ready to fill in for Roy or Leino being out, or just simply from insisting on going with the robo VHP line.
That means FES has been assigned by opponents as the "2nd" line, and face tougher match-ups that they (primarily Ennis) is not ready for. Second, Ennis is getting crushed at the dot and giving up possession time for the whole line. Third, Ennis has been Roy-eske by too much dangle and not enough to-the-net mentality. I understand this adjustment because the dangle worked like a charm against his assignments last season. Ennis simply either is not capable as a true 2nd line C, or needs more time to learn. While this learning stage carries on, Foligno and Stafford will suffer. Stafford has been doing everything else right except producing, but he needs a puck in a good spot to do that, and Ennis has not been able to get one there yet.
Actually, posters like me, Jame, SBPC, et al. have harped on this fact for the last week. The easy offensive minutes, assigned to FES last season, are now being lopped up by an overwhelmed Grigorenko, who's more times than not flanked by limited offensive players like Hecht, Ott, or Foligno because Grigs needs the defensive shelter. So instead of giving those easy minutes to more accomplished offensive players like Ennis/Stafford, they're being given to an unready 18 yr old and his sheltering offensive non-factors.
The seemingly obvious alternative is to throw Grigs on the wing of Ennis/Stafford, give them soft offensive minutes, and assemble a checking line comprised of Foligno-Hecht-Ott. We'll at what point Ruff finally figures this out. But Ruff will likely keep tossing out these half-assed "two-way" lines with an offensive black hole on each, be it Hecht, Gerbe, or whomever.
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