Kadri is going to make Hedman look foolish tonight.
MacIntyre will show that he's a better goalie than Bishop.
Kessel will out-snipe Stamkos.
Without MSL we're toast, no true playmaker and our locker room is full of distractions.
Toronto always has our number, so we can write this game off.
Well - Cooper seems like the guy that doesn't want to stop what's working. The past three games we have dominated with this line-up (minus the last five minutes of two of the games). If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
About wings B.J. Crombeen and Ryan Malone, who have played the past two games after being scratched in four straight, Cooper said, "They're playing the best hockey they've played all year." Cooper admitted scratching veterans like Malone and Crombeen and helping them understand their roles on the team has been something of a priority. "All players have pride and as a coach you never want to embarrass a player," Cooper said. "You have to be in full communication with these guys. Ultimately, in the end, you know you've got good guys when they put the team ahead of themselves, and that's what these guys are doing."
Said Crombeen: "Obviously, it is what it is, but it's kind of a difficult situation for all parties. Nobody's really happy when you're told you're not playing. But everyhone has to buy into the greater good for the team."
What has Malone and Crombeen brought to the team the past two games? "First and foremost they've given us unbelievable stability on the bench," Cooper said. "They're pulling on the bench. They keep guys into it. The other thing is they make our team a little bit taller." As Crombeen said: "We play a pretty hard, straightforward type of game, and this time of year that's usually when it's at its best, when games are tighter and physical and everyone is scratching and clawing for everything out there."
With Malone and Crombeen getting minutes, rookie Nikita Kuchorov, who was off to such a good start, has been a scratch in four of Tampa Bay's past five games. "I've never been in this situation before," Kucherov said. "I just need to play better. I'm playing bad." Kucherov has eight goals, 15 points in 41 games, but has just one assist in his past 10 games. "I just maybe need to bring my confidence back, first of all," Kucherov said. "It's so hard."
Damn Kucherov... I almost feel bad for him in that quote. Seems like he has a really good head on his shoulders.
Same. Kid is smart and uber talented, so he'll get it going again. I think it was a good thing for Coop to scratch him though. Dude has never had to deal with a scoring slump like this before and you could see how frustrated he was getting. Coop truly is the Rookie Whisperer.
Kucherov will be fine, long-term. It's just sad that he's going to wind up in the pressbox when he would be better off getting minutes. That said, the reason he's there is because we're getting good performances out of Crombeen, and to a much lesser extent, Malone. Crombeen, vs. Vancouver, played as well as he has all year IMO. To be honest, I even feel like Teddy Purcell's been playing better since Marty's exit, and I'm about the biggest Teddy-hater around (I still want him traded, don't get me wrong, and I'd take a bag of pucks for him).
I'd like to see Kucherov get a shot next to Johnson/Stamkos.