Smith continues to be impressive and Wilson seems like he 'gets it' and is beginning to grow into a pretty fine player. Proud of the team to battle back and tie the game up, even if they fell short in the end. Despite the flaws and mistakes in each game, I think there's a case to be made that you can also see them making improvements upon mistakes from previous games, which is encouraging from a young team.
Rinne has been playing godly like he was last year. Wilson and Smith are going to be 2/3 of our top line for years to come. And they are playing with very very good promise. Most creativity any of our home grown players have ever shown outside Radulov. I can live with that.
Fixed my post. I meant they were limiting the QUALITY of shots, not quantity.
I understood. Don't mind Drake. He's just a little... I'm kidding of course
Some positives from last night that I saw (and I plan to rewatch the game provided I have time after my job interview):
An early start and puck possession. Let's be honest here. The only spot on the Sharks roster that isn't obviously better than our team is goaltending. Their defense may not have the Weber/Suter combo, but it is deeper. Their forwards are much better, especially their top six. That is no contest. They are older and more experienced, but still have enough youth to make things exciting (or nerve-racking if you were a Preds fan watching some of the Sharks penalty kills last night. Who was it that said the Sharks PK isn't that good? Me? No no, it couldn't have been...). Our group of players (third youngest in the league if I'm not mistaken) came out swinging. They played the Sharks back on to their heels, but faced similar problems they faced in the Vancouver series back in May. They couldn't find a way to get the puck behind the defense for good, quality chances on Niemi. When those chances did present themselves (I'm looking directly at you Smithson. I know your shot sucks, but when you have a wide open lane in the middle of the slot you take it. Every time. Tootoo's job isn't to look for a pass right there. It's to crash and look for a rebound) we simply didn't have the finish.
The powerplay: Ok Ok. I know we let up a shorthanded goal. That was awful, but the power play itself before the shortie really looked ok. They were creating chances, even though the Sharks did a good job of standing in lanes. Smith battled hard to get his PP goal. Hey, it isn't quite as bad as last year... yet. 17.2% would be a great PP% to see in February. I'm hoping for it to gain a little ground to the 18.5% neighborhood, but baby steps.
Penalty Kill Right now it is a bit higher than what we finished the year with last year, but we are taking entirely too many penalties. There are only six teams in the league who have been shorthanded more times than us, and our PK% is better than all six of them. 86.8% is good for 11th in the league right now. We have to start playing more disciplined hockey, but until then at least we as fans can take some comfort in our team's ability to kill off the minutes players do spend in the box.
Craig Smith The last forward I was this excited about was Wilson. Before that, Radulov. Craig Smith is playing better than I expected him to play. He battles hard out there, and that is exactly what he has to do, both to earn ice time and to grow. His goal last night was him simply not quitting on the play. There were a few other times when he nearly set up a goal or nearly scored one. Smith sort of reminds me of Hornqvist with his enthusiasm, but with better hands.
Speaking of which... Patric Hornqvist. Last night, Patty looked like his old self. Sure, it takes three or four guys face washing and cheap shotting him before he looks like his old self, but nevertheless he does. If he can stay healthy that is a very good sign.
Hell The entire Fisher line was playing good hockey last night. Fisher looked very good in his first game back after missing training camp, pre-season, and the first seven games. He was hustling in the offensive zone trying to set up plays, and he played some good defense, too (breaking up a sure goal at one point).
Pekka Rinne is always a bright spot for this team. He has been one since the Lost Equipment fiasco that turned Dan Ellis into a monster down the stretch. There really isn't enough to say about how good of a goaltender this guy is.
Jordin Tootoo has gone from a hothead who will take liberties and drop the gloves with anyone no matter what to an incredibly smart, patient player who works and battles every second of every shift. He drew two penalties last night, and the second one led to our only goal. It is obvious that he frustrated Clowe after Ryane wanted to fight immediately following a clean hit Tootoo planted. Tootoo just looked at him, the ref stepped in, Clowe sat for 2 minutes mouthing off and Tootoo went to the bench to talk to the guys. This is the Tootoo we need, and he has been playing this same role since he came back last year. For years I would love watching Tootoo play until he did something stupid that I either had to shake my head at or defend. Now, I'm just enjoying it every time I see 22 on the ice (though I still hate the whistles)
The Freakin' Cube came in to help our third pairing last night. He played about 5 minutes in the first 8 minutes or so of the game. He took what looked to be a cheap shot, stood up from himself even though he had just returned from a concussion, and looked like he didn't miss a step. Sure he isn't the best defenseman, but he has grit and the ability to play on the third pairing. That's all we need from him. He brought it last night.
And if I may... another positive I am taking from these games is that this team has what it takes to actually play good hockey. So far it's been streaky. A good period here. A win that maybe we shouldn't have had there. You know what? That is nothing new. Even when this team had a 51 win season it had problems playing 60 minutes per night. It is fixable. We have to remember that not only did the roster have a pretty good shake up with so many guys leaving, but the bench also saw one of the finest coaches to have never been named Head Coach leave. I am still optimistic that things will click. I have to be. What else is there? This is OUR team
Last edited by ThirdManIn: 10-26-2011 at 12:10 PM.
Obviously I'm not going to copy all of ThirdMan's post, but I will say that I agree with a lot of it. I'll also say that I don't think it was as lopsided as many games this year have been. I mean, we were last in the league in shots for/shots against and they were the opposite....first in both, yet we still hung with them pretty well.
Fisher did look very good and got more minutes than I was expecting.
Although I've never been a Cube hater, so I'm not surprised, I'm still glad to see him back and instilling some toughness on the blueline.
It's good to see Hornqvist getting back into the swing of things, especially because he's really the face of the types of goals we need to be counting on.
Wilson continues to impress me. I just hope that he doesn't begin to try too hard if we can't produce more offensively than we have this far.
In my post I forgot to mention Legwand's fast start and Wilson's consistent play. Hell, even SK has looked pretty good, though I feel he is trying to force the puck a little too much.
Legwand is Legwand. He is going to be a good player for us, and right now he is still on a PPG pace. I don't think anyone expects him to keep that up (I don't think he has registered a point in four games), but it's still good to see that maybe, just maybe, he has some line mates that will help him be as good as he can be on both ends of the ice.
So far it looks like the work Wilson did over the summer to improve his mental toughness and focus has paid off. The kid is looking very good. Every time he is on the ice I expect him to take over the play. Not because of his hype or his draft position, but because he is just carrying himself differently this year.
Thanks! Now, wait until the power corrupts me I will say that I need to get used to my "quote" button not being the first one on the left, though.
And I agree. This thread is good so far. I think we can keep it on track. Honestly, I was going to take a couple of days off of the Preds forum, but then they offered me this mod gig and this "Positives" thread popped up.