Voynov got rattled at times, but to me the key thing is that it never made him fear making plays. Even after turnovers he wouldn't just slap the puck blindly and would try to skate it and make solid passes. He played absolutely fine for a kid in his situation.
A-mart... well honestly I thought this year Alex would be the odd man out eventually, but wow, am I an idiot. He showed every sign of turning into a big game player in this series, elevating his play when it mattered most. He was in beast mode last night, punishing hits, great position, and making confident plays. I thought he was our 2nd best defensmen after Drew. If you remember he was a bundle of nerves in pressure situations last year, but has he ever turned the corner.
If Voynov follows the same pattern, our D is going to be absolutely sick until the 2020's come around.
Rookie defensemen in a top4 role...there is a reason teams usually pick up "vet dman" heading into the playoffs. Its because even slightly seasoned guys have trouble in the playoffs. Was VV excellent, no...but did you need him to be?? VV looked even worst because the Kings other defensemen were rocks...I mean what 7-8 goals against in a 6 game series?? 30 in 19 games?? Unheard of stats....because VV was "directly responsible" for 4-5 makes him seem the goat, when in reality lots of teams woulda loved his play.
How many cup teams have rookies playing top4 mins??
Pierre McGuire mentioned WM giving some encouragement at one point after a questionable play... with those two together for at least two more years VV is bound to be a legit Top 4 d-man on this time for some time to come.
What you're actually referring to is where Mitchell told Voynov to not be goaded into taking a retaliatory penalty after Kovalchuck skated behind him and slashed the back of his leg.
in my view the kid has gotten better and better every year. I saw him first hand when he first came to north america. yes he still makes mistakes both positionally and with the puck but hes 22 years old. Less then 80 games of NHL experience. He will be fine. He has miles more upside then Grebeshkov ever had.
He's a rookie who made some mistakes when pressured by a very assertive forecheck in the finals.
With the guidance of Mitchell, he should develop more confidence and knowledge of the game to be a solid player. Let's not forget how much Martinez struggled his first season, and he was 23 when he first stepped on the NHL ice. Voynov is 21.
He had some struggles, but I think he has plenty of time to develop further.
I think was a mx of nerves and the fact, as you mentioned, that the Devils were keying in on him hard. Not everyone will come in and impress like Doughty, having a team that forechecks like New Jersey does fixated on you is no small task. He held his own albeit being a bit shaky at times.
One thing is for certain though, this final is only going to serve to make him better, and make it harder for any of the other young guys like Muzzin, Forbort, or Deslauriers from sticking on the big team.
One thing we all need to remember, besides the fact he is/was a rookie, is that his Manchester scouting report was that he was an offensive defenseman that had work to do on tightening his defensive responsibilities. I have no doubt that next year, he will be more decisive when faced with forecheck pressure and be better on the breakout. I don't think he did a terrible job with his one on one defending. I thought most of his miscues came when trying to initiate the breakout, holding it just a bit too long and then turning it over.
I wouldn't be surprised if something is physically ailing him because I didn't see the speed that he's known for. Remember, he won AHL fastest skater competition last year. Imagine when he learns to utilize that speed to his advantage when retrieving and carrying the puck out of the zone. I'm not worried about the kid. Think of how Martinez looked in his first stint, then his second. Then King last year, and then this year. I expect Slava will make a similar leap next season. He's still learning and did it on the grandest stage against the toughest competition. Kid is going to be good.
I LOVE how he handled himself, turnovers and all. Scored two goals for the Devils, one of them a game-winner. And even after that, he's still got the balls to hang onto the puck in the corners against the toughest forecheck the Kings had faced all playoffs?
Just wait until his body grows into what his mind thinks it can do.
Remember when Voynov played keepaway to help finish off Game 3 against the Coyotes?
Now that was nice. This guy can play. With Mitchell as his partner, I just never worried about that pairing. A few rookie jitters? Who cares. The Kings defense as a unit was nails throughout the playoffs.