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04-30-2014, 02:38 PM
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Okay, this is gonna be a long one.

I've been thinking about Vinny's play lately and while he's been bad, I can't help but think we've treated the guy kind of bad too. Don't forget that he was our best player other than Mason when the team was struggling early on, up until his injury at which point G was heating up.

Before the injury, he bounced between 2C and Giroux's wing and put up a respectable 14 points in 22 games while our team couldn't score if their lives depended on it. This was mostly goals too, a pure scorer being something we lack.

He hasn't done much to help himself since getting injured, but there's been occasional flashes of brilliance. He was signed thinking he'd play big minutes, possibly with Giroux, and since his injury we've given him effectively third line minutes with two inconsistent young guys on his worst forward position.

I mean, it was a complete blunder to play Vinny on left wing. Here's a quote from Meltzer's blog back in October: "Lecavalier said yesterday that while he by no means is a natural winger, especially after spending the vast majority of his NHL career at center, he feels more comfortable on his off-wing than he would if deployed on the left side."

So this guy comes in after being wooed by management thinking he'll either play big minutes on G's wing or center his own line. He's our best forward up until G's first goal and he gets injured shortly after. He comes back early from injury and instead of getting those same minutes he gets put on Schenn and Cout's wings. One is a defensive role that he's not good at, the other is his worst position with 3rd line minutes (since the Couts line gets more minutes).

This is a guy that thrived on being the driving force of a team. I thought we should have kept him with Giroux, give him spotlight minutes and give Giroux a guy with skill and real finish. Vinny is a kind of guy that isn't going to be motivated or play well if he's a secondary act, and that's what happened (in conjunction with injuries + age) in Tampa Bay with Stamkos taking over, and I think that's a huge part of what we've seen since his injury and subsequent disappointing play.

Dont forget Vinny's best game of the season came on one of the few games he got on G's line and he got a hat trick against NYI (also G's first multi point game of the season, back when he had like 1 assist). They had chemistry the few times they played together, Vinny's shot and finesse is perfect for G's set up style of play. Then they had a grinder in Hartnell to forecheck and try to get the puck to one of the other two. Voracek fills the role too, but he doesn't have the same kind of shot as Vinny and he could have thrived being the driving possession player on his own line instead of splitting the role with G.

Then he had his non-displaced back fracture, came back too early and got tossed around the lineup in a secondary role, both on the PP and at ES. This was December, and he played bad until after the Olympic break when he started potting a few goals when they put him back at center on the 4th. I don't think its coincidental that he started playing a little better when he had some attention focused on him for the demotion. He's a guy that thrives on attention.

And that's what I mean when I say we've misused him, we bounce him between roles, linemates and positions, all on secondary lines and the 2nd PP unit. He needs to be a central part of the team. Some people would argue he isn't deserving of the big minutes and it's hard to contest that the way he's played lately. I just don't think we're going to get the best out of Lecavalier unless he is in a central role, preferably on G's RW or at least centering the second line with 1st unit PP minutes.

He's shown a couple times this season that he can still play well but since coming back from injury he's not been playing 100%, he's been bounced around in different roles (Schenn vs Couts line), he's in different positions (mostly LW, his worst position), he's been put on the terrible 2nd PP, and he's really lost all confidence as a result.

We've seen him motivated and confident a few times and he's succeeded, and it's almost always when the attention is on him. When he was new to the team and people wanted to see how he played, when he got minutes with G and the 1st PP, in big games like against his former team, and again when he got attention shifted to him for his demotion to the 4th.

I'm just saying guys, he can still play well and he's shown it in flashes. I won't argue that he's been god awful and the worst forward in the top 9 for long stretches of the season, but this is Vincent Lecavalier. He's been used inconsistently and inappropriately on a team he's just coming on to and this is after more than a decade of having a consistent, central role on a Tampa Bay team that was his.

He's lost confidence, but I think if the team showed some confidence in him and gave him some decent minutes in some kind of central role (either G's wing or 1st PP), he could deliver. He has before. Vinny's a big game player and it's harder to step up for those games when he's an afterthought on the team. He's got a pretty unique skill set that we could still utilize.

I mean, he still got 20 goals with the ridiculous season he had. People are way too harsh on the guy, especially after he came back early from a back fracture. He paced for more points than all of our forwards but Giroux, Voracek, Hartnell and Simmonds. I don't think its a coincidence those are all the guys on the 1st PP.

Just some thoughts for going forward with Vinny, it's obviously too late to make any changes like these now.

Last edited by blinds: 04-30-2014 at 03:06 PM.
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