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Kovalev and Neal numbers discussion

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Old
03-22-2011, 11:20 AM
  #1
cassius
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Kovalev and Neal numbers discussion

We obviously are not getting the production that we expected out of both of these guys. Both Kovalev and Neal are skilled players, yet they have only notched 1 goal each in the past 11 games.

What do you think the main issue is?

For me, it boils down to 2 root causes:

1) Byslma's system is geared towards grinders - Disco Dan's system works extremely well for getting full production out of grinders like Dupuis, but he's always struggled in coaching the skilled guys. Time and time again, it seems like skill players have a difficult time producing in Bylsma's "grind it out" / "north south" scheme. We saw it with Malkin and now we are seeing it with Kovalev/Neal. It's unacceptable to get such low production out of these highly skilled guys.

2) Lack of playmakers on offense - To me, Neal seems like a guy who needs to ride shotgun with a skilled playmaker like Sid or Geno. He struggles to create offense on his own and needs a legitimate wing man to feed him pucks. I think Kovalev is sorta the same boat. At this stage in his career, Kovalev isn't going to produce much unless you have him paired with a gifted playmaker. He is past the stage where he can create offense on his own.

I know this is a touchy subject, but someone has gotta bring this up. We picked both of these guys up thinking it would add an offensive spark to the team and so far that just hasn't happened. What's your take on it?

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03-22-2011, 11:42 AM
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GlenngarryGlencross
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Originally Posted by cassius View Post
We obviously are not getting the production that we expected out of both of these guys. Both Kovalev and Neal are skilled players, yet they have only notched 1 goal each in the past 11 games.

What do you think the main issue is?

For me, it boils down to 2 root causes:

1) Byslma's system is geared towards grinders - Disco Dan's system works extremely well for getting full production out of grinders like Dupuis, but he's always struggled in coaching the skilled guys. Time and time again, it seems like skill players have a difficult time producing in Bylsma's "grind it out" / "north south" scheme. We saw it with Malkin and now we are seeing it with Kovalev/Neal. It's unacceptable to get such low production out of these highly skilled guys.

2) Lack of playmakers on offense - To me, Neal seems like a guy who needs to ride shotgun with a skilled playmaker like Sid or Geno. He struggles to create offense on his own and needs a legitimate wing man to feed him pucks. I think Kovalev is sorta the same boat. At this stage in his career, Kovalev isn't going to produce much unless you have him paired with a gifted playmaker. He is past the stage where he can create offense on his own.

I know this is a touchy subject, but someone has gotta bring this up. We picked both of these guys up thinking it would add an offensive spark to the team and so far that just hasn't happened. What's your take on it?
I don't see what #1 has to do with the situation, hasn't Neal himself stated that he likes Bylsma's system? I would think the main reason we acquired him is because his skillset fits the gameplan extremely well. As for Kovalev, he's showing why he was only valued as worth a 7th round pick, no surprises there.

#2 is your answer, Neal is the perfect sidecar to 87/71 and Kovalev is too past his prime to be capable of much without Sid or Geno. I'm actually impressed with the effort of both players, particularly Neal, and both are clearly struggling to produce without a skilled anchor. Neal looks dominant at times and he does produce chances but we don't have anyone for him to really give and go with so he tries to do too much.

I'm a little disappointed Neal hasn't produced more but he gets a pass from me until next year. On the flip side, Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy looks great, they may need to stay together next year with that kind of chemistry.

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03-22-2011, 11:48 AM
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Neal not scoring isn't the system. He's getting chances, but they just aren't going in. That happens some times.

I honestly think the reasoning for the lack of success of both players has to do with them playing with each other. There is no chemistry there.

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03-22-2011, 11:49 AM
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Oh this thread should turn out well.

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03-22-2011, 11:51 AM
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I'd say with Neal its pretty much what your saying, and thats fine because we traded for him as a long term option. He should be really good with either of our centers.
And I think he fits our style perfectly. Shero did a good job of trading for two wingers(Neal and Kunitz) that do fit our system so well, and honestly make it better.

Yes having a playmaker who can draw the D's attention would be ideal for him, because his shot is continually blocked now that the opposing defenses have no one else to key in on.


I'd say Kovalev needs a finisher, not a playmaker, though either one would help at this point. Him and Gino would probably do some damage, though personally I still wouldnt re-sign him on the chance that they would.

So Kovalev needs a finisher and Neal needs a playmaker and you think they'd be a match made in heaven.....but I dont think they mesh real well. Kovalev wants to slow things down, Neal wants to be a one man army energy machine.
I think splitting them up would probably be a good idea if things dont start to click. Having Kovalev on our "third line" sounds like a scary idea, but Staals line should be our match-up line regardless what number its given.

So if Sid comes back in the playoffs:
Neal Sid Dupuis/Asham-primary scoring line
Kunitz Staal Kennedy-"shutdown line" that scores too
Jeffrey Letestu Kovalev-secondary scoring line
GRINDERSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

I'd also throw both Letestu and Jeffrey on Sid's RW and see if either stick.

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03-22-2011, 11:52 AM
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Dupree13
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And both of their 2 goals came on somewhat flukey deflections at that.

Neal has no excuse IMO. He's had plenty of chances and God knows he looks to shoot it everytime he gets the chance. He just keeps hitting the goalie or missing the net. The shots aren't falling right now, so he needs to get into the "dirty" area if he wants to hit paydirt. Neal if you're reading this bro get your ass to the crease. He's been driving hard to the net a few times which is a good start, but he needs to follow through on it.

Kovy is just Kovy. He doesn't seem to have that nasty wrister anymore, but to his credit he has set up several slam dunk plays where guys failed to finish, or he would have more assists. Let's just hope that he's pacing himself for the playoffs.

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03-22-2011, 11:58 AM
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It's pretty simple to me.

We have ZERO playmakers on this team. Heck even the bottom feeding teams have at least one.

Kovy is exactly what he's been the last 3 years, so I don't know why some people are that surprised.

Neal was on a slump way before he came to Pittsburgh, and his knock in the scouting reports by Dallas fans was that he's inconsistent to begin with.

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03-22-2011, 11:59 AM
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Darth Vitale
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All this playmaker stuff is nonsense...they're witches.... WITCHES I SAY!


BURRRRN 'EM!


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03-22-2011, 12:01 PM
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I don't think Kovy fits into our system, plain and simple. He looks lost out there sometimes.

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03-22-2011, 12:03 PM
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BlackGoldGreen
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The powerplay is another big reason. Having Kovy is almost a waste with our powerplay.

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03-22-2011, 12:03 PM
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we do have 2 more points because of them though.

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03-22-2011, 12:05 PM
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Coach John McGuirk
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I love seeing Kovalev in black and gold again, but he is done. At least here, anyway. He's too slow and doesn't fit. No harm done in acquiring him, though (7th rounder).

I'm not worried about Neal at all. He's very noticeable every time he's on the ice, whether or not he's scoring. He'll be dynamite with either Sid or Geno, don't worry about that.

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03-22-2011, 12:13 PM
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Dylonus
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Didn't expect much from Kovy. His presence however is an upgrade over some AHL'er and he's got SOME skill. He's creating chances.

Neal is doing everything but score. He's definitely had chances, he's just not getting the bounces.

It amazes the hell out of me that suddenly everyone is like "LOL NEAL SUCKS! DALLAS OWNED ****SBURGH RAH RAH RAH"

If Neal wasn't traded to Pittsburgh, it wouldn't be a topic.

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03-22-2011, 12:16 PM
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Jeff Goldblum
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Kovalev's hands are definitely still there but his skating isn't. He's not as elusive as he once was, so he needs more time and space to make things happen. I think he'd get that time and space as the third man in with Kunitz/Neal on the forecheck and Crosby feeding him passes in the high slot. That's why I think he'd work out just fine on Crosby's line.

Kovalev's a shadow of what he once was, but it would be silly not to give him an opportunity. Bill Guerin scored 20 in the same on-ice role last season and his offensive abilities were inferior to what Kovalev's are presently. There are going to be turnovers at both blue lines and he's going to make drop passes to the other team at times, but he still has the vision and the shot to be a perfect offense-only third wheel support player on a line. He doesn't need to keep up with Sid because Crosby loves hitting the late man in. All he needs is space and I think Crosby and Neal/Kunitz would give that to him.

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03-22-2011, 12:22 PM
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I wouldn't do trade backsies on either trade.

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03-22-2011, 12:24 PM
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Darth Vitale
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Seriously there's nothing to debate here.

Neal is snakebit and unquestionably once he starts getting real playing time with Sid or Geno, defenses will leave him undefended more and that extra second is all he's going to need to start burying some shots. And once he starts scoring he'll probably score a bunch. That's hockey. Everything I've seen from this kid, I like. He was a fantastic acquisition and Nisky has turned out to be a nice surprise also with a lot of upside.

Kovalev's problem is his age but he can still be useful in certain situations.

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03-22-2011, 12:48 PM
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Dan Barr
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Playing the left point on the power play isn't helping Kovalev either.

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03-22-2011, 12:50 PM
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it's almost laughable that fans thought Kovy was going to magically start scoring goals plug into a make-shift first line.

he's forced into a role he can't really physically play at his age. I'd seriously question if he's even second line material at this point.

As mentioned the hands are there, but the wheels just aren't. He can still produce and I'm sure he'll get another offer.

I'd be open to having him back on the team next year at a much reduced rate and in a third line, 2nd unit PP role.

Neal isn't even worth debating. When the kid pots 30-35-40 goals the love affair will be rekindled. Ray will be a super GM again.

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03-22-2011, 12:50 PM
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Im not even remotely worried about either player. Both have won us shootouts, as well as looking good on the ice.

Kovalev seems to be on and off clicking wise but i bet ya when Sid is on the ice he'll have a lot more room to move around.

Neal looks fine its just not going in for him. Again having Sid there to get him the puck when hes open hell put up numbers.

My prediction.
Say the pens play ~16 playoff games,
Neal - 7+ goals 5+ assists.
Kovalev - 4+ Goals 10+ assists. (PowerPlay will eventually start clicking and Kovalev will benefit.)


Think of what Sid did with Dupuis on his line. I think we can all agree that both Kovalev and Neal are better then Dupuis is.


In summery, both will do much better when they get fully use to the system and have a Center for once to play with.

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03-22-2011, 12:53 PM
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cassius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookeKilledJFK View Post
Oh this thread should turn out well.
Oh **** - batten down the hatches! We're talking about hockey on a hockey message board!



Last edited by cassius: 03-22-2011 at 01:14 PM.
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03-22-2011, 12:57 PM
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All this playmaker stuff is nonsense...they're witches.... WITCHES I SAY!


BURRRRN 'EM!

The guy on the left kinda looks like Neal...

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03-22-2011, 01:16 PM
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cassius
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I think Kovalev could be a perfect linemate for Malkin honestly. I have watched him make some beautiful passes.. just kinda makes me wonder how many of those opportunities Malkin would have buried.

He's got the skill to keep up and Geno likes to carry the puck, so Kovalev's wheels wouldnt matter as much. Kovalev is more of a skilled playmaker these days than a pure sniper. I think you throw him on Malkin's wing and watch Geno re-gain his confidence as a goalscorer and a playmaker.

If we can pick him up for <$2M/cap hit.... its a steal. You guys might think he's old and over the hill, but we won a cup with Guerin on our top-line. When you got a team who has ~22M tied up in centers you need to find bargains on the wing.

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03-22-2011, 01:22 PM
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If it was <2M then sure, give it a shot. If worst comes to worst you can always Leclair his ass.

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03-22-2011, 01:29 PM
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Darth Vitale
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Guys Alex Kovelev is currently making $5M a year. Overpriced? Certainly, but you're talking about him taking $1M+ to stay here. Or roughly a 70%-80% salary cut depending on amount. WHO DOES THAT? If he has even a decent finish to the season, someone will pay him $3M+ next year and then a lesser amount the year after, or he'll just go play in Russia where he can continue making big money.

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03-22-2011, 01:29 PM
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MrBurghundy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cassius View Post
I think Kovalev could be a perfect linemate for Malkin honestly. I have watched him make some beautiful passes.. just kinda makes me wonder how many of those opportunities Malkin would have buried.

He's got the skill to keep up and Geno likes to carry the puck, so Kovalev's wheels wouldnt matter as much. Kovalev is more of a skilled playmaker these days than a pure sniper. I think you throw him on Malkin's wing and watch Geno re-gain his confidence as a goalscorer and a playmaker.

If we can pick him up for <$2M/cap hit.... its a steal. You guys might think he's old and over the hill, but we won a cup with Guerin on our top-line. When you got a team who has ~22M tied up in centers you need to find bargains on the wing.
Well Guerin was good in his short stint here during the playoffs, but he sucked the next year. So I think your comparison really isn't working in your favor there. Plus recently, for every good pass Kovy makes, he makes 3 or 4 horrible ones.

He just doesn't fit this system, and I personally want no part of seeing him be signed in the offseason.

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