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About fourtrax

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    Hockey Guru / Grand manitou
  1. Been a nice surprise so far. It's neat having a defensive third-line player who can actually win faceoffs.
  2. I hope this is just a practice move that doesn't reflect what Martin's planning to do for the next game, because if it is, I hate it on two levels: Pouliot hasn't played well, but you can't just yank a guy off a line after three frickin games. Give him a sustained chance to prove himself on that line (10-15 games is about right IMO). If he's still not getting it done, then you can explore other options. This just smells like typical Martin panic. Travis Moen? Really, Jacques? Because Moen has performed so much better than Pouliot over the past three games? Because Moen is a goalscorer? I'm so sick of this "put a grinder on a scoring line to wake the line up" garbage. IT NEVER WORKS. The person who should be replacing Pouliot is Lars Eller.
  3. Definitely. I don't think it's coincidence that Ryan's best game of the season thus far came with Hamrlik back in the lineup as his D partner.
  4. At least he's hitting.
  5. But how does this reflect well on Ryan? Yes, he's arguably a better choice than a bottom-tier depth d-man we picked up for nothing in the offseason. That still doesn't mean he's very good, or that he has a permanent spot on the team.
  6. Probably just too much PK duty.
  7. The problem isn't Hamrlik per se but the fact that a 36-year-old Hamrlik at $5.5 million per is our second-best defenseman. Not Roman's fault we can't build a D corps properly or figure out how not to overpay. Hamrlik will be an upgrade on O'Byrne or Picard, but it doesn't change the fact that our top-four is a mess.
  8. O'Byrne is not young by hockey standards. Age 26 is an age when good players can be expected to play consistently from night to night. No one is asking Ryan to be Doug Harvey reborn or to suddenly become a topnotch shutdown guy. What we're asking is that he demonstrates himself capable of being a competent defensive defenseman, a 4th or 5th d-man who doesn't hurt the team with penalties and blown coverages. To this point, Ryan hasn't proven he can be that d-man. This is a pivotal year for Ryan. If he can't cement his spot as a starter, he doesn't belong on this team.
  9. He got moved down after two periods because he was the only forward in the Toronto game playing worse than Gomez and Gionta. But his natural spot should be on a scoring line. We didn't flip Latendresse for Pouliot just to make Pouliot a fourth-line checker. We already have plenty of those. Yup, definitely encouraging. If he's not scoring, at least he can pound enemy d-men into the boards and loosen them up for the Plekanec line. It's not much, but it's a start at any rate.
  10. Uh, he's not on a checking line. He's on a scoring line and he's expected to produce points. Also, the idea of Pouliot as a checker makes me want to laugh hysterically. He's arguably the least defensively responsible player on our team.
  11. Tossup between O'Byrne and Gill as to who makes me more nervous. It's really too bad we don't see playoff Gill outside of, well, the playoffs. Regular-season Gill is an accident waiting to happen.
  12. Still tries Junior-B moves too often, still has no physical presence, still can't be trusted in his own end, still stays on the perimeter. Pick it up, Benoit.
  13. Over the past three years, Ryan has 125 NHL games under his belt. This is his fourth season with the team and he's 26. It's a make-or-break year for him as far as I'm concerned. I have been a staunch supporter of O'Byrne over the past year, but if he wants to show that he's more than a fringe NHL player and injury fill-in, he has to take a definitive step forward in 2010-11. Smart, assignment-sharp hockey should be the rule for Ryan this year, not the exception.
  14. I'm not talking about statistics. I'm talking about what I've seen of Ryan's play through the preseason. He just looks lost and two steps behind most of the time. Not a good sign. Don't misquote me. I never said preseason counts for nothing. I said that preseason counts for nothing in terms of assessing veterans, i.e. established players. O'Byrne, as far as I'm concerned, is a 26-year-old prospect, in that he hasn't established himself firmly as a starter. It speaks to his lack of development that Subban, five years O'Byrne's junior, has already leapfrogged him on the depth chart. Preseason is an important time for unproven players to show what they can do. Ryan, unfortunately, has to date only showed what he can't do. A lot. Well, like I said initially, I'm not going to pass judgment on O'Byrne based on preseason. I'm not writing him off. And I do believe that he deserves this season to demonstrate that he belongs with the team. But thus far, he hasn't shown me anything to make me believe he'll be anything other than a slow, soft, mistake-prone penalty machine with no offensive upside who still, at age 26, has to be shielded from top matchups and carefully managed to remain even marginally effective.
  15. Everybody you mention brings something to the table. Subban has offensive upside. Spacek and Gill are vets and preseason isn't the place to judge their effectiveness. Gorges has already proven himself. The rest are fringe NHLers at best (Henry, Picard) or prospects whose development has stalled (Weber, Carle) -- their futures aren't promising, but their shortcomings don't mean Ryan doesn't have work of his own to do in order to improve. O'Byrne has not proven anything at the NHL level, yet his preseason was very poor from a personal performance standpoint. Unlike Subban, whose defensive gaffes are off-set by other elements to his game (puck movement, PP production), O'Byrne is nothing if he's not generally solid in his own end. For a 26-year-old player entering his third year with the team, O'Byrne has underperformed markedly, to the point where it is legitimate to wonder whether he has what it takes to be anything more than an injury fill-in at the NHL level. Ryan isn't a player out of junior or a 21-year-old kid. He's 26 years old. While I don't expect him to be the second coming of Larry Robinson, but I do expect him to at least demonstrate that he can play basic defensive hockey like a 5th d-man with some potential to slide into the top-four down the road. This isn't Ryan's first rodeo; chipping the puck out of the zone and cleanly taking his assignment out of a play on the boards should not be Herculean tasks for him. Right now, he's difficult to watch, because there's a good chance even the simplest of assignments will turn ugly for no particular reason. I'm not writing him off, but his performance during preseason certainly has not helped allay my anxiety. Nothing would please me more than to see O'Byrne put all doubts to rest with a rock-solid season in which he firmly establishes himself as a player Martin can play in high-pressure situations. But he still has to go out and prove his worth.