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04-10-2013, 11:28 PM
NYR Sting
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Originally Posted by nyr2k2 View Post
I think his mobility has improved leaps and bounds. He markedly better this season at turning his skating orientation from backwards to forwards. His footwork is better. He's not as prone to allowing guys to get around him on the outside now. I never saw straight-line skating as a big issue for him, but rather that he lacked the agility and quick bursts to contain speedier forwards. It's not so much of an issue for him now.

His gap control used to make it look like he was lost. He'd either leave way too much distance between he and his man, or get right up on him, which coupled with the aforementioned lack of lateral skating ability, made him look like a pylon to fleet-footed forwards. The latter was extremely annoying since he has such a long reach. There was no reason to keep such a small gap. I don't see that this year, particularly over the past few weeks. He's more consistent at maintaining proper gaps.

He has also learned to stop following the puck up the wall, or leaving his zone to attempt a big hit. It just seems to me that he has a greater understanding of positional defense in general. Rather than chasing the play, he's in better position to be dictating where the play moves. He doesn't look like he's playing catch-up.

McIlrath is actually beginning to resemble a guy whose play warranted a first round pick, rather than a guy who was drafted for no reason other than his imposing figure.

Fair enough. The Orpik comparison is my projection. The last bit was just me feeling cocky.
I haven't watched much Whale this season, so what we've been hearing from you, Beacon, and others is very encouraging. You nailed the analysis of him, pre-Connecticut. I watched a ton of McIlrath when he was in Moose Jaw, and he did none of these things well. He had no concept of positional defense, and he was a really poor decision maker in multiple types of situation. He looked like he had very little idea about how to play hockey at a high level. This sounds like a very rapid and remarkable turnaround.

The one thing that is still in the back of my mind, however, is that many of the same things were being said about Kreider his last couple of NCAA seasons. Granted, the AHL and NCAA is a big difference. But once Kreider got here, he wasn't nearly as ready as some thought he would be. I think he still needs a decent amount of time in Hartford before he is a regular member of the Rangers, based on what I've seen this season.

Really hope that McIlrath keeps improving, because the Rangers need to trade Girardi to improve the offense, and McIlrath will make doing that easier. Even if he does turn out as good as advertised, it won't change my mind about that pick. This franchise sorely lacks a Tarasenko-like player in the prospect pool, and that type of talent is more valuable, especially for this team.

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