I'm really hoping that they can coach Nikitin into becoming a stable top 4 guy, would be nice if he could inherit Colaiacovo's role on the team and be a little more durable.
I'm starting to see why Langenbrunner ended up on the top line, between him Oshie and Steen we have a guy on the ice who is going to be constantly creating turnovers and intimidating players who try to make the long pass on the transition.
If there's one thing I want to see the team as a whole work on it's patience, they need to take that extra second to set up the clean pass or the shot on net even if it's just to create a rebound. There's a bad habit of the play being forced a little to much and then cycled back to the blue line and having it pressured out of the zone. Those kind of turnovers are going to be really dangerous and have killed a lot of leads in the past.
To me its more about how high Shattenkirk's ceiling is. I thought it was hyperbole when people were saying he's better than EJ.....but now, at least in terms of how he fits the Blues' scheme and contributes I think he definitely is. Other than rushing the puck, I'm not convinced EJ is anywhere close to developing the offensive tools to have that kind of impact on the game. I'm doubtful he's every going to show us that.
I hope EJ has a great career, but I'm wondering whether the Blues got the two best players in the trade.
Nikitin had some very visible gaffes, but he also was largely responsible for making Iginla's night fairly quiet (goal notwithstanding). He's a great surprise and his level of play has made Huskins ice time shrink (barring injury like to Cola now).
People bellyaching about Langenbrunner or Arnott need to chill out. They're older veterans, and they're bodies will probably break down a bit from time to time, but Payne is no idiot. Just because Langenbrunner is getting 1st line billing doesn't mean he'll overplay him, or that its going to be a long-term arrangement. I really like Jamie's physical game. I think other teams are going to really hate playing the Blues. What line gives you a break out there? They're all brutal to face.
This is a ridiculous statement born out of overly high expectations. The guy had 33 and 39 points in his first two years and at times looked dominant, ala Pronger. This was after only playing 1 year of college hockey (he didn't have the benefit of growing as a player in college/juniors like say Petro). Did he regress last year? No doubt, but anyone who argues that EJ is a bust either didn't watch him in his first two seasons or has way too short of a memory span.
Personally, I would not be the least bit surprised to see EJ return to a 40 pts. (maybe even +) form with strong physical defensive play. Perhaps not this year, but as the Avs continue to grow. But this isn't to say I wouldn't make the trade again because the difference between Shattenkirk and EJ is not Stewart. (EJ - Kirk < Stewart)
Halaks rebound control has left something to be desired but the defencemen can start to try and compensate for that some. Nothing is going to fix that save for Halak but the team has done a very very good job at keeping the shots down and they are trying to build towards a puck control style game that has made the Wings a powerhouse for the past decade.
It is good to keep things in perspective, we'll have a better picture of how the season is going to play out at the quarter point.
Nichol, Huskins, Arnott and Langebrunner have all seemed to have a good impact on the team so far, nothing flashy (save Arnotts work) but nothing too detrimental either. I hope Langs drifts back to less ice time, his shift count should be closer to 20 than 30 in a game if they don't want to gas him out.
I also wanted to add that Calgary is a fair candidate for bringing up the rear in the Conference. A lot of teams are probably going to look better against them, but I'm still optimistic from what we saw from the Blues.