Monday, December 12, 2005

What's Working and What's Not

Has anybody seen this Cory Stillman?
Props from the plain-speaking contributors to the LetsgoCanes.com discussion board are greatly appreciated. I'm not a student at UA, just a former North Carolinian living in warmer climes (it's partly cloudy and 70 degrees right now).

Caniacs Mobilize! I know the enemy and he's a Czech-o-Centric from western Canada. Check out Jes Golbez's jab at Puckit and general slap in the face of our collective Caniac hetero-manliness (not that there's anything wrong with a lack of hetero-manliness).

What's Working...
The youth movement: Unlike the floundering Panthers, JR decided to count heavily on the 'Canes meager but capable supply of young guns. Eric Staal is the real deal. The baby-faced assassin is producing balanced scoring right now both at even strength and on the PP. Staal is 4th in the league in scoring but only in the 80's in ice time (Jagr ranks in the 20's and Thornton in the 60's). Andrew Ladd was a force before his injury (4 goals in just 7 games). Justin Williams is on a tear of late and showing that he doesn't have hands of stone after all. He plays with the recklessness of Eric Cole, but he's starting to become a finisher.

Goaltending: Gerbs is without a doubt the man now in goal. He was the difference in taking Dallas to OT and he might just have well taken the ice by himself in the third period vs. the Kings. He's just 4 off the pace in wins, 7th in save percentage and 11th in goals against avg. Henrik Lundqvist might be a bigger story thus far, but it's looking like JR was right when he let Weekes go.

Old Guys on Defense: Lots of ranting after the 'Canes re-signed Glen Wesley. Lots of talk about moving Bret Hedican, his salary and bad back. Glen continues to crunch, grind, and make smart plays at critical junctures. Glen ranks around 14th in +/- and Bret around 22nd. AWard has gone from proverbial player-to-be-named-later trade bait to a real physical and steady presence. Aaron is playing hurt, blocking shots, carrying the puck, and the first guy to make a hit when it's time to change some momentum.

What's Not Working...
Free Agents: Ray Whitney has added finish to the PP (when he's healthy) and ditto Frankie Kaberle, but Oleg Tverdovsky has been an under-achiever to say the least. The 'Canes second highest paid player and highest paid blueliner ranks somewhere around 6oth place in scoring for NHL defensemen. Hell, he's only two points above AWard at this stage. Couple this with a return of his mellon problems, and we've got the makings of a $2+ mil. bust.

Matt Cullen looks lovely with the puck, but the franchise doesn't need Brian Boitano at center.

Cory Stillman got a nice contract with a no-trade clause that will take him to retirement, and he's playing with the complacency of a man who just landed a nice contract with a no-trade clause that will take him to retirement. His 25 points are enough to place him in around 40th place in the league and well below other free agents from last summer including Jason Allison, Pierre Turgeon, and Pavol Dimetra to name just a few.

Counting too Heavily on Team Speed
The 05-06 'Canes were built for speed, but what seems to happen when we meet teams that combine speed with size? The only guys banging right now seem to be CAdams and AWard. Cole will lay some lumber, but it's usually behind the play. The Thrashers have whacked us a couple of times. We're about the only team they are whacking. The boys don't seem to be able to drive Hossa or Kovalchuk off the puck. The Sharks came out playing the body in the second period the other night. The 'Canes couldn't break out of the defensive zone-couldn't even protect the puck in the defensive zone. Tverdovsky was just spitting pucks any time Swedish uber-enforcer, Nils Ekman, was in the vacinity. The Sharks basically owned the game until they went into a prevent defense with a three goal lead. Joe Thornton was King Kong and the 'Canes were pesky little biplanes.

Groins: What is the deal with all the groin injuries? Are these not world-class athletes? Occasional blogger, John Forslund, had a nice piece about how down players get when they are hurt and rehabing, so I would think groin health would be a big part of their conditioning routines. Have they not been using their groins since the lock-out? Sounds like a question for Trip Tracy, huh?

2 comments:

Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

Gobelz?

Wow, yet another new variation of my name. I collect these like hockey cards ;)

CasonBlog said...

Doooh! The fix is in with deep respect in every keystroke...