I agree with everyone's assessment that things are rough right now, but let’s take a deep breath. Injuries aside a sober look at our predicament isn’t as dire as we’re making it sound. My first observation has to do with Richards and Gabby. Neither of these guys are able to carry a club on their own. We know that. Nothing has changed. Richards is still a great play maker but hasn’t settled into a groove not because he “sucks” but because nobody around him, aside from Nash and Hags, is doing shit. This is why we see our d-men joining the rush and going deep so often. He’ll snap out of it when the rest of the club wakes up. It isn’t enough to pair him with Step or Kreider. For all of their assets these are not natural goal scorers.
Which brings me to Gabby. Joe, we’ve never seen eye-to-eye on this guy. I was SO happy to see him get benched last night. In my opinion, I’d take him off of the power play and never give him another shoot-out chance. But what really gets me about him is how he fishes for goals, letting everyone else do the dirty work. He has a glass shoulder, a glass groin and is timid. Does this mean he “sucks”? Obviously not. Nobody who scores that many goals sucks. But the point is that he does not fit our team style at all. In fact, he works against the grain and needs to be shipped off to the Western conference where he belongs. He does well on four-on-four, when he has room to fly down the boards…which is why he scores us some really clutch OT goals. But five on four he’s almost useless. He cannot work the puck through the neutral zone and always turns it over at or above the circles. Just terrible for long stretches of time. He scores loads of goals against bottom teams and in blow-outs when we’ve knocked the other club on their heels. Otherwise, he’s a turnover machine and watches the action. He won’t change. Trade him for value that fits our club.
But the REALLY good news about last night was the play of our kids! I thought Thomas made a huge statement last night. We saw his shot and his hockey smarts. This kid is small, but way smarter and more adapted to the NHL, North American hockey than Matt Zuccarello ever was. Miller also continues to impress me. You can tell he’s slightly off his timing and judgement but that is simply because he’s adjusting to the big time. He’ll get it and so far I honestly see him sticking around longer, or at least more effectively, then Kreider. Actually, all of our kids played really good. What do we expect? You guys, aside from our closing ability we went toe-to-toe with Montreal’s A-Team using our teenagers and backup goalie! Let’s assume, for the time being, that most of these injuries are temporary. That Nash comes back and Girardi only has a deep bruise. We’re going to kick some ass.
Now, as for us not showing Heart or Character…I agree we should have been tougher. Boyle???? Well, he’s being asked to provide more offense. Powe and Asham are out. Soooo, we’re asking Cally or Hags or Gabby or Richards to step up and play enforcer? Yesterday was a huge game for our kids to find their wheels. That’s what they were focused on IMHO…
We just need to get healthy, make sure we get in the post-season and gel in the next 15 games.