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04-11-2013, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by nyr2k2
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.

I agree with you on the gap and positioning, but less so on skating. I think he was always a decent north-south skater, but when it comes to short-step skating that McDonagh so excels at, he has trouble with it.

I also feel like he has confidence issues right now. I think this stems from the fact that he's obviously learning and nothing is yet at the level of "muscle memory", it is all flat-out thinking right now. This causes him to be a little slower, which causes some problems, which in turn has caused his confidence to take a hit. Which is funny considering that he's doing well and if anything, he should feel very proud of the progress he's made. I hope he's not reading posts from people who never saw him play who like to talk trash about how bad he is.

But I still think the Rangers should force him into a prolonged skating course over the summer.

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