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Neal and Niskanen for Goligoski

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Old
02-22-2011, 07:07 PM
  #676
ColePens
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Holy hell, JTG. Great post. I can't agree anymore with everything you said.

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02-22-2011, 07:12 PM
  #677
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I think it's a little bit foolish for anybody to write off any possibilities at this point. Of course Malkin ideally would be slotted at center, but there are other considerations in play. Do we want to keep Staal as a third line center? We all saw how great the third line looked this year with Letestu. I don't buy that Malkin for whatever reason can't play wing, either. We've only seen him playing there with legitimate top 6 talent very briefly, and Staal wasn't near 100%. The third wheel on that line was also usually Matt Cooke.

Personally, I've been a big supporter of the Staalkin idea all along. I don't think acquiring Neal really changes that, either. I'd go with this top 9 next year:

Kunitz - Crosby - UFA / Dupuis / Jeffrey?
Neal - Staal - Malkin
Cooke - Letestu - Kennedy

The first line I want to remain mostly intact, at least the Sid and Kunitz part. They have fantastic chemistry and Kunitz has been a very underrated element of Crosby's dominance. I see no reason to break them up.

I love the look of the second line on paper. Malkin creates plays and distributes the puck, Neal is the finisher, and Staal provides the excellent two way play and big body down low. Reminds me a little bit of the ingredients that went into the Malone - Malkin - Sykora line a few years back. This also makes things really tough on opponents because for the first time in a while, they actually have to make a real decision on which line they want to focus on.

Cooke - Letestu - Kennedy is what we've seen a decent amount of this year, and there are a lot of different combinations we could throw together here to create a solid, dependable third line.

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02-22-2011, 07:14 PM
  #678
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Originally Posted by ColePens View Post
Holy hell, JTG. Great post. I can't agree anymore with everything you said.
Yeah, excellent analysis.

Like I said before, the only change I'd make, is if I did Staalkin, I'd want Neal with Crosby and Kunitz filling out that line instead. So for me, I'd like:

Neal-Crosby-FA/Tangradi/Jeffrey
Kunitz-Staal-Malkin

Even still, its all fit. You make a great point (JTG) when you say that these things do not and probably will not need to be permanent. If Geno and Neal work thats fine. If Crosby and Neal work thats fine. We have options now and thats whats important.

Again the thing I find most annoying is the "Geno doesn't work with Kunitz" argument. Outside of this year against Nasvhille and a select few other games, I recall Geno's best game being against Ottawa where he had 4 or 5 points including 3 goals. His linemates were Kunitz and Guerin. Its just he hasn't played a significant amount with Kunitz. In fact, depending on Tangradi's development, this could also be another option:

Neal-Crosby-Kunitz
Tangradi-Staal-Malkin

So there is a lot of possibilities out there. I trust that Bylsma will find the right one. My gut feeling though, tells me that Neal will be tried first with Crosby. I know Geno fans will hate this but listening to people who are more connected with the game (Mckenzie, a few others) the initial reaction was "Imagine him with Crosby." Add to that that everytime we get a big time winger, he usually goes with Sid. This time could be different and it is different circumstances as Sid and Kunitz has had some sucess, but make no mistake, Neal is better than anyone we've had at wing on this team since Hossa. Saying that makes me think Sid will get his shot with Neal.


Last edited by hctopcheds11: 02-22-2011 at 07:20 PM.
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02-22-2011, 07:22 PM
  #679
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I'm not saying Geno can't play with Kunitz. Quite the contrary actually. Geno excels with people who can open up space for him. Kunitz does that.

What I don't get, we know the chemistry Sid and Kunitz have. Why in the world would you want to tinker with that? It's completely unnecessary.

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02-22-2011, 07:28 PM
  #680
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
What I don't get, we know the chemistry Sid and Kunitz have. Why in the world would you want to tinker with that? It's completely unnecessary.
As with the chemistry of Cooke-Staal-Kennedy...all under contract for next season (Kennedy's an RFA, but still).

Which SCREAMS to me that Neal-Malkin is the logical next step:

Kunitz-Crosby-somebody
Neal-Malkin-somebody
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy

The evidence is there. THIS is our best lineup. This is the model that won us a Stanley Cup AND got us to a final the year before. WHEN Evgeni Malkin as a winger plays in a Cup final, then I'll be a believer. Until then, I believe he can be the second-best center in this league. And that we have on our roster the very best 1st, 2nd and 3rd line centers in the NHL. Why anybody would tinker with the best is beyond me.

I COULD see the argument when we didn't have James frickin' Neal. I didn't agree with it, but I could see it. NOW? Sid has Kunitz. Geno has Neal. Staal's line is the best we have when together. What the bleep do we need more???

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02-22-2011, 07:28 PM
  #681
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
I'm not saying Geno can't play with Kunitz. Quite the contrary actually. Geno excels with people who can open up space for him. Kunitz does that.

What I don't get, we know the chemistry Sid and Kunitz have. Why in the world would you want to tinker with that? It's completely unnecessary.
Well, I still go back to Crosby's natural instincts, which are passing. He hasn't had a player in the last few years who can shoot the puck like Neal. Imagine if Crosby can still have his goalscoring game but a guy who can also shoot on his line?

And beyond that, Crosby is the most important player in this organization. Giving him the newest toy isn't the stupidest thing to do and its not like Geno is getting "scraps."

Add in, that I just think the organization is going to experiment with Staalkin. If they do that, I just have a hard time seeing Coach DB giving out the two best forwards besides Geno and Crosby both to Geno. Its the problem that most Geno enthusiasts complain about but this time it would be toward Crosby. Yes, Crosby isn't getting scraps but you also want to keep him as happy as possible.

Like I said, either way I'm fine. But if Crosby comes back this season, he probably is going to get the first shot at playing with Neal anyway. So lets just go from there. If Crosby and Neal light it up this Spring, he's probably going to stay with Crosby. Whether anyone likes it or not.

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02-22-2011, 07:32 PM
  #682
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There's alot of uncertainty who will play with who but the fact that we can have so many options is a big relief as a fan. You can tell Shero and Bylsma are excited as hell about the idea of developing a young talent in Neal alongside two of the best players in the game. The what if's include....

1) Will Staal play 2nd line center and malkin wing
2) Will Neal mesh well with Staal and thus stay on that 2nd line
3) Will Kunitz really ever be moved off Crosby's wing/can he play the right wing
4) Can Kennedy replace Dupuis if no winger is brought in
5) Who will play third line center, letestu or jeffrey
6) Will we attempt to keep some ahlers around in the bottom 6 so we can afford to sign another winger

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02-22-2011, 07:34 PM
  #683
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Originally Posted by Jag68Sid87 View Post
As with the chemistry of Cooke-Staal-Kennedy...all under contract for next season (Kennedy's an RFA, but still).

Which SCREAMS to me that Neal-Malkin is the logical next step:

Kunitz-Crosby-somebody
Neal-Malkin-somebody
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy

The evidence is there. THIS is our best lineup. This is the model that won us a Stanley Cup AND got us to a final the year before. WHEN Evgeni Malkin as a winger plays in a Cup final, then I'll be a believer. Until then, I believe he can be the second-best center in this league. And that we have on our roster the very best 1st, 2nd and 3rd line centers in the NHL. Why anybody would tinker with the best is beyond me.

I COULD see the argument when we didn't have James frickin' Neal. I didn't agree with it, but I could see it. NOW? Sid has Kunitz. Geno has Neal. Staal's line is the best we have when together. What the bleep do we need more???
But Neal will be with Malkin. I'm not following your logic in the least. If anything, the way I want to see things makes Neal and Malkin that much more lethal because they can worry way more about offense playing with a Selke caliber center.

Letestu can fill Staal's shoes on the 3rd line. I have absolutely zip, zero, nil, nada, no doubt about it.

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02-22-2011, 07:34 PM
  #684
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Another big thing thats being overlooked, is Neal probably is going to help our PP.

Neal-Crosby-Kunitz

Letang-Malkin

Or perhaps Staal in for Kunitz...?

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02-22-2011, 07:36 PM
  #685
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Originally Posted by andyg26 View Post
Well, I still go back to Crosby's natural instincts, which are passing. He hasn't had a player in the last few years who can shoot the puck like Neal. Imagine if Crosby can still have his goalscoring game but a guy who can also shoot on his line?

And beyond that, Crosby is the most important player in this organization. Giving him the newest toy isn't the stupidest thing to do and its not like Geno is getting "scraps."

Add in, that I just think the organization is going to experiment with Staalkin. If they do that, I just have a hard time seeing Coach DB giving out the two best forwards besides Geno and Crosby both to Geno. Its the problem that most Geno enthusiasts complain about but this time it would be toward Crosby. Yes, Crosby isn't getting scraps but you also want to keep him as happy as possible.

Like I said, either way I'm fine. But if Crosby comes back this season, he probably is going to get the first shot at playing with Neal anyway. So lets just go from there. If Crosby and Neal light it up this Spring, he's probably going to stay with Crosby. Whether anyone likes it or not.
My retort is very simple. Kunitz and Sid were clicking and it was working at an unbelievable rate. Geno needs a lift. Neal is Geno's lift. Throw the freakin guy a bone. Just for once. He has had no semblance of top 6 talent on his line since Ryan ****ing Malone left.

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02-22-2011, 07:36 PM
  #686
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Good stuff JTG. Another reason why Staal should be in a top 6 role is because if he is on the first unit Power play, we really cant have Crosby, #1 Center, Malkin #2 Center, and Staal #3 center all playing on the first unit. They will all be too tired to take that first shift after the Power play expires and its never a good idea to have the 4th line take the first shift after a killed Power play.

Obviously not the main reason why Staal should be top 6, but just a thing to think about.

Also, how ridiculous is it that we had Crosby, Malkin, and Staal in the lineup for all of 3 games. We were really spoiled the past 4 years having them all in the lineup at the same time. I thought this would be the season that would end the debate on where to play Staal and it just delayed it one more year!

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02-22-2011, 07:38 PM
  #687
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This debate is impossible. I thought scripting it in the very blackest and whitest way, some of the trio supporters would be swayed. I have very obviously failed.

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02-22-2011, 07:39 PM
  #688
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
My retort is very simple. Kunitz and Sid were clicking and it was working at an unbelievable rate. Geno needs a lift. Neal is Geno's lift. Throw the freakin guy a bone. Just for once. He has had no semblance of top 6 talent on his line since Ryan ****ing Malone left.
Fair enough. I just don't buy that Kunitz can't also be Geno's "lift" and be that top 6 talent. Lets just see what works instead of everyone flipping out that Geno never gets anyone to play with (not aimed at you JTG).

I still say, that if Crosby comes back this Spring, which is still the plan, that he will get first shot at playing with Neal. If they work, I doubt the organization is going to change anything.

Quote:
This debate is impossible. I thought scripting it in the very blackest and whitest way, some of the trio supporters would be swayed. I have very obviously failed.
Not true at all. Whats the point of messageboard without a little bit of debate. You said yourself, Kunitz and Geno could work.

Look, I'm not even saying that your scenario isn't a great idea. It is. I'm just suggesting that Neal could very well end up with Crosby OR Geno. Its really all up to fit and who works.

And your opinion doesn't have to be law JTG

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02-22-2011, 07:41 PM
  #689
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Originally Posted by andyg26 View Post
Well, I still go back to Crosby's natural instincts, which are passing. He hasn't had a player in the last few years who can shoot the puck like Neal. Imagine if Crosby can still have his goalscoring game but a guy who can also shoot on his line?

And beyond that, Crosby is the most important player in this organization. Giving him the newest toy isn't the stupidest thing to do and its not like Geno is getting "scraps."

Add in, that I just think the organization is going to experiment with Staalkin. If they do that, I just have a hard time seeing Coach DB giving out the two best forwards besides Geno and Crosby both to Geno. Its the problem that most Geno enthusiasts complain about but this time it would be toward Crosby. Yes, Crosby isn't getting scraps but you also want to keep him as happy as possible.

Like I said, either way I'm fine. But if Crosby comes back this season, he probably is going to get the first shot at playing with Neal anyway. So lets just go from there. If Crosby and Neal light it up this Spring, he's probably going to stay with Crosby. Whether anyone likes it or not.
Things like "Crosby is more important" don't seem like very good reasons at all. Further, Malkin is really the more important player in the sense that the team needs to get him going. Crosby has shown the ability to dominate with just about anybody. The best hockey of his career, of course, coming alongside Kunitz. It really doesn't make any sense to change all of that. Trying to reinforce to Malkin the notion that he's playing second fiddle to Sid also doesn't seem like a wise move.

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02-22-2011, 07:42 PM
  #690
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We might not want to factor Malkin into these lineup projections for next season.

I'd be happy to see him on the ice next season period. Malkin at 100% next season... seems very unlikely.

By the time he actually gets back into the swing of things (praying that he does) and we have to really think about Staalkin again seriously, a million things could change.

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02-22-2011, 07:42 PM
  #691
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
This debate is impossible. I thought scripting it in the very blackest and whitest way, some of the trio supporters would be swayed. I have very obviously failed.
Well, you've got me pretty convinced now. But then again, I'm so back-and-forth on the Staal and Malkin being together that it's not hard to do.

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02-22-2011, 07:43 PM
  #692
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Great post JTG.

Anyone got Sheros email?

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02-22-2011, 07:43 PM
  #693
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
This debate is impossible. I thought scripting it in the very blackest and whitest way, some of the trio supporters would be swayed. I have very obviously failed.
no you havent, my opinion has been changed due to your post but at this point if staalkin works then great, if it doesnt then freaking change it back. its just that simple (like you have already stated). the ONLY thing i have an issue with now is dupuis on that first line. for the LOVE OF GOD GET HIM OFF THAT LINE. i wouldnt even let him touch the 3rd line, and we have better 4th line players. send him packing and give us some more cap room. hes a damn waste...... GRRRRR

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Great post JTG.

Anyone got Sheros email?
i was actually thinking the same thing

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02-22-2011, 07:45 PM
  #694
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Originally Posted by Malkin4Top6Wingerz View Post
Things like "Crosby is more important" don't seem like very good reasons at all. Further, Malkin is really the more important player in the sense that the team needs to get him going. Crosby has shown the ability to dominate with just about anybody. The best hockey of his career, of course, coming alongside Kunitz. It really doesn't make any sense to change all of that. Trying to reinforce to Malkin the notion that he's playing second fiddle to Sid also doesn't seem like a wise move.
Like it or not, Malkin is second fiddle to Sid. Outside of salary, the organization has shown who they value more time and time again.

Having said that, fair points and I agree. I just don't see why if Neal and Crosby are dynamite this spring, that Kunitz and Geno can't work.

THATS the only point I'm trying to make.

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02-22-2011, 07:46 PM
  #695
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Fair enough. I just don't buy that Kunitz can't also be Geno's "lift" and be that top 6 talent. Lets just see what works instead of everyone flipping out that Geno never gets anyone to play with (not aimed at you JTG).

I still say, that if Crosby comes back this Spring, which is still the plan, that he will get first shot at playing with Neal. If they work, I doubt the organization is going to change anything.
1. Kunitz-Crosby works. Why is that not good enough for you?

2. Staal-Crosby didn't work. Malone-Crosby didn't work. Crosby with power forwards doesn't work. And don't bring up Tangradi in the preseason. The preseason means nothing. If Kunitz-Crosby works, and Neal-Crosby seems unlikely to work, why waste the time? Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

3. Malone-Malkin did work. Staal-Malkin did work (with Staal on the wing, anyway). I also think it's insane to pass up something that probably wouldn't work to try something that probably wouldn't.

In conclusion, Neal should play on Malkin's left wing.

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02-22-2011, 07:47 PM
  #696
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Great post, JTG. I want to see Malkin at center, but Staalkin is going to happen due to the emergence of Letestu and our ability to fill a gaping hole (RW) with a dynamic player for free, basically.

I'm pretty excited that we could throw out a Neal-Crosby-Malkin line down a goal with a minute left.

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02-22-2011, 07:50 PM
  #697
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Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts View Post
1. Kunitz-Crosby works. Why is that not good enough for you?

2. Staal-Crosby didn't work. Malone-Crosby didn't work. Crosby with power forwards doesn't work. And don't bring up Tangradi in the preseason. The preseason means nothing. If Kunitz-Crosby works, and Neal-Crosby seems unlikely to work, why waste the time? Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

3. Malone-Malkin did work. Staal-Malkin did work (with Staal on the wing, anyway). I also think it's insane to pass up something that probably wouldn't work to try something that probably wouldn't.

In conclusion, Neal should play on Malkin's left wing.
Okay, Neal and Crosby wouldn't work.

No point in even responding.

AGAIN, I'm not saying Neal shouldn't go to Malkin. I'm saying it should be based on fit.

If Crosby is playing this Spring, he's going to get the first shot with Neal. Whether anyone likes it or not, there's a good chance they could end up being dynamite.

And if anything, I'd argue that Crosby hasn't worked with skill forwards not power forwards. Geno worked much better with having BOTH a skill forward and a power forward. Crosby's biggest success has been Kunitz who certainly isn't a skill forward. In fact, the only thing missing from Kunitz's game to be perfect with Sid, is the characteristics that Neal possesses.

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02-22-2011, 07:51 PM
  #698
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JTG makes some good points about cap space and what we get for that money with one guy vs. two. Although I am from the "Don't fix Crosby's line if it ain't broke (just upgrade the RW)" school, it would be worth trying for 2 or 3 weeks early in the season because

Neal - Staal - Malkin

has the potential to be an utterly dominant line if Staal can improve his hands during the off season. What he does now works for the third line but he needs to be a quicker response type player if he's going to line up with two animals on his wings. I love the guy but he has hands of molasses in tight quarters / when pressured, so if he's going to be slotted there the first thing he needs do is get rid of his defender's stick (Errey will be heartbroken), and the second thing is he needs to work all summer long on his hands, doing all kinds of passing and shooting drills and working with trainers to do everything he can to improve not strength but quickness and reaction time.

Effectively, the opposite of what Geno needs to do. Staal will never be nimble and Geno never a hulk, but if they can work those weak edges over the summer, then add another growing beast in Neal... Holy Neanderthals!... that could be a Evil Frankenbeast of a line. Just the shear size of those three guys would be intimidating to play against.

But if it doesn't spark pretty quickly I'd be totally fine with keeping Staal on the third line. We still might only need 1 guy to be picked up in FA, considering how well Letestu and Jeffrey have played.

"Worst Case"

Kunitz - Sid - FA (anyone even slightly more offensive than Dupuis works)
Neal - Letestu - Geno (just to take faceoffs if need be, but either way it works)
Cooke - Staal - TK
Jeffrey - Adams - Vitale

Tell me that wouldn't be a tough group of forwards to play against once they got their groove on in November or so. Also we could simply arrange the lines based on who we're playing too. A team with less D depth, then Neal - Staal - Geno could do some pretty sick damage. More depth, spread 'em out...

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02-22-2011, 07:51 PM
  #699
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Fair enough. I just don't buy that Kunitz can't also be Geno's "lift" and be that top 6 talent. Lets just see what works instead of everyone flipping out that Geno never gets anyone to play with (not aimed at you JTG).

I still say, that if Crosby comes back this Spring, which is still the plan, that he will get first shot at playing with Neal. If they work, I doubt the organization is going to change anything.



Not true at all. Whats the point of messageboard without a little bit of debate. You said yourself, Kunitz and Geno could work.

Look, I'm not even saying that your scenario isn't a great idea. It is. I'm just suggesting that Neal could very well end up with Crosby OR Geno. Its really all up to fit and who works.

And your opinion doesn't have to be law JTG
And I don't want you to think that. It's just, it makes so much sense to let Staal play 2C, that I just can't understand why someone wouldn't want to support it, even for a little. Just the tip. Just to see how it feels.

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02-22-2011, 07:54 PM
  #700
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Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts View Post
1. Kunitz-Crosby works. Why is that not good enough for you?

2. Staal-Crosby didn't work. Malone-Crosby didn't work. Crosby with power forwards doesn't work. And don't bring up Tangradi in the preseason. The preseason means nothing. If Kunitz-Crosby works, and Neal-Crosby seems unlikely to work, why waste the time? Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

3. Malone-Malkin did work. Staal-Malkin did work (with Staal on the wing, anyway). I also think it's insane to pass up something that probably wouldn't work to try something that probably wouldn't.

In conclusion, Neal should play on Malkin's left wing.
Well, personally, if Sid comes back I think he and Kunitz should play together again, it took awhile but the finally seemed to develop good chemistry, so unless Neal-Staal falls completely flat, I don't know that I want to see Neal play with Sid. And if we want Staal to play the part of second line center, I think he needs more help than Sid so if Sid comes back this year:

Kunitz - Crosby- Sterling/Jeffrey/Dupuis*
Neal-Staal-Kennedy
Cooke-Letestu-Connor/Dupuis/Asham
Rupp- Talbot -Adams

*I would like to see Sterling and/or Jeffrey given a shot with Crosby, as both have move of a scoring touch. But if it doesn't work we could fall back on having Dupuis there again, provided we don't acquire another winger of course.

Next year I think the logical first try would be to have Kunitz stay with Crosby and Neal play with Malkin, regardless of whether or not Malkin is centering the line, or playing RW on the line with Staal centering it.

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