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Split-N
09-23-2014, 02:35 AM
Well well. Hockey East Media Day, which is looked upon as the unofficial start of a new season, is now behind us so that alone suggests that it's time for the official new season thread. Besides, pretty much all of us find ourselves getting bored to tears by the increasingly torpid off-season drivel. Oh, and puck drop for the annual exhibition game is only 12 days away.

The nickname for this thread could just as easily be "Great Expectations" because there are some for the first time since "l'affaire Cronin." The polls are starting to come out and what I've seen so far has NU in the 3-4 range in the league while John Buccigross has the Hounds in his pre-season Top Ten. My personal expectation is for no less, plus it is not unreasonable to also expect a Beanpot and a respectable post-season run, especially with the FF being played in Boston. So it's time we invited ourselves to those parties.

I personally don't see this team as having any problems putting the puck in the net, nor should motivation and desire be issues. The question marks in my mind remain 1) Team defense (should be improved based on experience alone) 2) Injecting some spark into a chronically blah PP, and 3) Goaltending (CW needs to put the post-Beanpot blues behind him). If things go well in those areas, this could turn out to be a winter to remember for all the right reasons.

Let the comments begin.

NU_Husky
09-23-2014, 10:15 AM
Well well. Hockey East Media Day, which is looked upon as the unofficial start of a new season, is now behind us so that alone suggests that it's time for the official new season thread. Besides, pretty much all of us find ourselves getting bored to tears by the increasingly torpid off-season drivel. Oh, and puck drop for the annual exhibition game is only 12 days away.

The nickname for this thread could just as easily be "Great Expectations" because there are some for the first time since "l'affaire Cronin." The polls are starting to come out and what I've seen so far has NU in the 3-4 range in the league while John Buccigross has the Hounds in his pre-season Top Ten. My personal expectation is for no less, plus it is not unreasonable to also expect a Beanpot and a respectable post-season run, especially with the FF being played in Boston. So it's time we invited ourselves to those parties.

I personally don't see this team as having any problems putting the puck in the net, nor should motivation and desire be issues. The question marks in my mind remain 1) Team defense (should be improved based on experience alone) 2) Injecting some spark into a chronically blah PP, and 3) Goaltending (CW needs to put the post-Beanpot blues behind him). If things go well in those areas, this could turn out to be a winter to remember for all the right reasons.

Let the comments begin.

I am in agreement with you on all three of those points. I think team defense will be improved. I think the 2 freshmen will be contributors (though Owens is still in a walking boot), I think Smith working closely with them will aid their development, and like you, I think another year of experience can only help. They might not be the best D in the league, but I believe they will improve over last season. The PP should get better just by regression to the mean- they were that bad last year, especially in Hockey East play. And Clay Witt, with a year to focus all his efforts on hockey, I think will come out like a brick wall. I have a lot of faith in Clay returning to pre-Beanpot form, or something similar to it.

Recruit news: NHL CSS Preliminary rankings were released. Ryan Shea and Adam Gaudette both received a C rating. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=731360&navid=nhl:topheads

SkinsFan09
09-23-2014, 12:28 PM
Offense will be fine. Roy and Szmatula will each drive their respective lines. Roy is probably going to be a Hobey finalist this year. Should be anyway. No reason he can't hit 50 points.

The question as usual is defense. You'd hope experience + new faces will make the defense middle of the pack. They don't have to be elite, just average with Clay Witt behind them.

Witt was asked to stop 40+ shots a game, eventually, shots start going in. Gotta have a much better season between the blue lines.

NU_Husky
09-23-2014, 12:58 PM
Went to open skate at Matthews today, and a sheet from yesterday's practice was left up on the glass. Lines were listed, thought I'd share:

Roy/Hedges/ZAR
Sikura/Szmatula/McMurtry
NStevens/JStevens/Reid
Rosenthal/Pond/Snydeman
Jameison/Messa/Collier

and on defense:
Gunn/Benning
Cockerill/Saucerman
Lauwers/Schechter
Darou/Fennell

I like them. Big American third line, two scoring lines, Rosenthal adds a scorer to the typically grinding Pond 4th line. Schechter adds another puck mover, and pairs well with a DFD like Dax.

Huskies01
09-23-2014, 04:36 PM
1) Team defense (should be improved based on experience alone)

Why? Experience was not an issue for this team on defense last year. They only started one freshman! Its a talent thing. There just is not a lot of it on the blue line. Another year does not make someone "better", just a year older. If they could not skate backwards last year, they will not be able to do it this year either.

As for Roy hitting 50 points, why would that be a big deal? He went for 46 last year, so a pick up of 4 points would get us how many more wins? If they find linemates for him who can actually get him the puck, I would hope for 65-70 points, he would easily put up JG like numbers.

He was amazing last year being held back by Stevens as his center and ZAR who was great at picking up the garbage, but its not like ZAR was setting up Roy, or taking pressure off by carrying the puck up the ice for him. He needs someone who can take pressure off him like Vinny did his last year here. That is why I like playing him with Szmatula. It also forces Szmatula to share the puck, something he did not do as much when paired with guys like Mike "turnover" McMurtry. I am also big in letting talent play with talent to get the most out of the talent. Keep the suck guys together and keep their responsibilities as little as possible. Keep the talent together so it can prosper.

This is a middle of the pack team in a league that has a lot of middle of the pack teams this year. Let me put it this way, the team 4 years ago with Rawlings in net, McNeely and MacLeod up front, probably steam rolls this team. That team went 14-16-8.

SkinsFan09
09-23-2014, 06:08 PM
You really do a god awful Bill Parcells impression.

Huskies01
09-23-2014, 06:46 PM
You really do a god awful Bill Parcells impression.

just being myself. I have said the same thing about this team from Day 1. The potential for the defense to hold this team back is pretty big. The only guys on this team I think that can "get better because of a year of experience" would be Hedges, Benning, and older Stevens. If they do not get better, then that would be a huge issue in itself. Everyone else, they are who they are. :)

As for the lines below, switch Hedges and Szmatula and off we go. #1 best line in the league. #2 line would be the turnover prone Canadians. #3 line would be the All-Americans who won't be All Americans. #4 would be, why is the #1 line not out there line!

SkinsFan09
09-23-2014, 06:54 PM
I do think everyone is in 100% agreement that the defense is yet again the big question mark. I don't think they have problems scoring goals. It'd be nice to actually have a halfway decent powerplay this year.

Huskies01
09-23-2014, 07:10 PM
The powerplay failures to me is a function of two things. One being lack of talent up front and in the back, compounded by horrible coaching. I mean, this is not a fast team, so lets put one guy on the blue line so everytime a shot misses the net, the other team gets a 2-1 the other way. Then, lets put the guy with the best shot on the team, Roy, back there by himself to facilitate things, instead of trying to get him an open look.

Yeah, the dmen are slow when moving the puck. Its an issue. And I personally never minded the 5 forwards out there, but it was a mess when the other team had the puck.

Put lack of talent with clueless special team coaching and you get the garbage we have seen the last few years.

HHound
09-24-2014, 08:08 AM
Went to open skate at Matthews today, and a sheet from yesterday's practice was left up on the glass. Lines were listed, thought I'd share:

Roy/Hedges/ZAR
Sikura/Szmatula/McMurtry
NStevens/JStevens/Reid
Rosenthal/Pond/Snydeman
Jameison/Messa/Collier

and on defense:
Gunn/Benning
Cockerill/Saucerman
Lauwers/Schechter
Darou/Fennell

I like them. Big American third line, two scoring lines, Rosenthal adds a scorer to the typically grinding Pond 4th line. Schechter adds another puck mover, and pairs well with a DFD like Dax.

Nice bit of reporting! Who needs the SI department?;)

These lines are really preliminary. The only line OI can see remaining unchanged by late October is Roy-Hedges-ZAR. You have a clever center who will distribute the puck well. You have ZAR who seems the enjoy mucking along the boards and you have Roy. Should work well, but might need ZAR to create space for the others.

The second line gives us an idea of what JM thinks of Sikura. Szmats should love playing with kid as he is clever, can really skate and seems to look too set up his linemates. McMurty really improved, especially toward the end of last season. According to the roster at 6' 195 he has added 25-30 lbs since he arrived here. He sure didn't look that big when I last saw him, but that was a year ago.

The third line is where I have problems. I was not as thrilled with JSteven's game as JM & Co. seems to be. His defensive positioning had him looking like a spectator giving opponents terrific scoring opportunities. His "check" of the BC player who deflected the winning goal in the BP showed him in position but ineffective. I don't really know how good nolan will be, but the coaches were relly excited when he committed. His U-18 team numbers don't reflect the way he was used. Reed should finally learn to deke on breakaways and should have a great senior season. I doubt this line remains intact.

The fourth line is kind of a surprise. We have two right shot forwards among our top 12, and they are both on this line. Pond is where I expected him to be. Rosenthal, based on the monster year in Coquitlam (Burnaby) and subsequent accolades should wind up providing muscle for Roy and Hedges after things shake down. OTOH, PC has a kid name De Jersey, who had a monster final year in B.C., but has been a bust so far for the Friars. Snydeman is a useful hustler who could play on any of our lines. He made some great plays last year but he missed some great opportunities. I like the 4th line better than the 3rd.

Where Brendan Collier fits in is a mystery. I suspect that he'll learn our system, earn some ice time or will be interchanged with one of the freshmen.

Huskies01
09-24-2014, 08:45 AM
Glad to hear McMurtry spent time in the weight room, but how did he really improve on the ice? During the final two months of the season, January through February he managed all of three points! Two goals, one assist. He went pointless in February! On the 2nd line! Yes, credit of a nice playoff series against UNH, but that seems to be more of an outlayer then his play actually "improved".

As for Sikura, lets reserves judgment until he plays in a league that has goalies and defenders that are not orange cones and a cardboard cut out. Hedges and McMurty have learned its a little bit harder at this level and I would assume Sikura is going to find it to be a lot harder once he gets out there against tougher opposition.

Agree on John Stevens. He was brutal the final three months.

I think Rosenthal and Collier end up on the 2nd line with Szmatula, come the New Year and our Canadian friends turn into pumpkins again.

HHound
09-24-2014, 10:35 AM
Glad to hear McMurtry spent time in the weight room, but how did he really improve on the ice? During the final two months of the season, January through February he managed all of three points! Two goals, one assist. He went pointless in February! On the 2nd line! Yes, credit of a nice playoff series against UNH, but that seems to be more of an outlayer then his play actually "improved".

As for Sikura, lets reserves judgment until he plays in a league that has goalies and defenders that are not orange cones and a cardboard cut out. Hedges and McMurty have learned its a little bit harder at this level and I would assume Sikura is going to find it to be a lot harder once he gets out there against tougher opposition.

Agree on John Stevens. He was brutal the final three months.

I think Rosenthal and Collier end up on the 2nd line with Szmatula, come the New Year and our Canadian friends turn into pumpkins again.

I agree that McMurtry hasn't been an offensive force. His overall play, passing, checking and generally mixing it up along the boards definitely improved as he spent more time on the wing instead of at center. You simply cannot judge a player's value to the team by his scoring statistics alone.

I don't think Sikura is going to hit the ice sprinting, but I've watched him (and Eric Williams) play several times and I have an idea of what he is capable of once he acclimates. Players from that league in Ontario tend to take longer to adjust to the D1 game than do players from the USHL.

I heard how "hockey smart" Stevens is, because his dad's a coach etc,etc. At times he's shown some clever ideas on offense, but he hasn't done the same in his own end. He needs to improve in that area. I hope the brothers Stevens conduct themselves on the ice with more composure and skill than the Ferrieros.

I'll really be shocked if Collier and Rosenthal don't advance from the 5th and 4th lines - unless the guys in front of them are filling the nets with rubber.

Huskies01
09-24-2014, 03:07 PM
I agree that McMurtry hasn't been an offensive force. His overall play, passing, checking and generally mixing it up along the boards definitely improved as he spent more time on the wing instead of at center. You simply cannot judge a player's value to the team by his scoring statistics alone.


If you are on the 2nd line, score goals. Otherwise, move down to a checking role. His passing did not get that much better based off the 4 assists he managed during 34 regular season games. That's less then one assist a month during the regular season. And again, he played the majority of the year with Szmatula.

He is not a Top 3 line player no matter how much he bulks up and what it does for him along the boards. He could not pick out a pass his freshmen year, he could not do it his sophomore year either. The game continued to move to fast for him when the puck was on his stick.

HHound
09-24-2014, 03:27 PM
If you are on the 2nd line, score goals. Otherwise, move down to a checking role. His passing did not get that much better based off the 4 assists he managed during 34 regular season games. That's less then one assist a month during the regular season. And again, he played the majority of the year with Szmatula.

He is not a Top 3 line player no matter how much he bulks up and what it does for him along the boards. He could not pick out a pass his freshmen year, he could not do it his sophomore year either. The game continued to move to fast for him when the puck was on his stick.

You must have been attending "Captain's Practices" for Team Pessimist, because you're already in mid-season form. How about waiting until the kid has played a few games before you consign him to Devil's Island!

It's fortunate for you that we weren't ranked any higher in the pre-season polls. Positive thoughts and optimistic thinking cause you to break out in hives and to suffer from a nasty rash!

Huskies01
09-24-2014, 03:39 PM
You must have been attending "Captain's Practices" for Team Pessimist, because you're already in mid-season form. How about waiting until the kid has played a few games before you consign him to Devil's Island!

It's fortunate for you that we weren't ranked any higher in the pre-season polls. Positive thoughts and optimistic thinking cause you to break out in hives and to suffer from a nasty rash!

Its not being a pessimist, its looking at the data, and from 1st hand observation, two seasons worth of the kid.

I am over pre-season polls. They were wrong about us last year, probably be wrong about us again this year.

Tilldog40
09-25-2014, 02:43 PM
It seems that this year unlike years past they have plenty of quality depth. Injuries happen so it's always key to have quality players to step in instead of relying on freshman. I wouldn't be surprised to see a forward converted to defense this year as well.

HHound
09-25-2014, 03:00 PM
Who do you have in mind? I was thinking that the opposite might occur. Schechter strikes me as a candidate for conversion. He might make a better RW checker than Snydeman, who is more of an attacker IMO.

Tilldog40
09-25-2014, 07:08 PM
I think players on the 3rd and4th lines could b plugged in anywhere if somebody goes down. What I mean is that is somebody in the top 3 lines goes down there is skill and depth that I feel can get the job done and not be a huge setback.

NU_Husky
09-26-2014, 08:41 AM
I think players on the 3rd and4th lines could b plugged in anywhere if somebody goes down. What I mean is that is somebody in the top 3 lines goes down there is skill and depth that I feel can get the job done and not be a huge setback.

I tend to agree- I think Rosenthal will eventually become a top 6 forward. Collier could work into the third line. I echo the sentiments shared below, scoring goals will not be the issue (powerplay excluded until proven otherwise). Defense and giving Witt clear sight lines will be the biggest issue.

Tilldog40
09-26-2014, 09:15 AM
I tend to agree- I think Rosenthal will eventually become a top 6 forward. Collier could work into the third line. I echo the sentiments shared below, scoring goals will not be the issue (powerplay excluded until proven otherwise). Defense and giving Witt clear sight lines will be the biggest issue.

Exactly. We have always had skill but never the depth we have had now. Competition for ice time makes a team practice and plAy better. When your job is not safe or you don't play up to expectation you will be replaced. In years past that was not always the case because there was not many players to plug in. This years team seems to have more options and skill. Hopefully we remain healthy and play well but I feel better going into this s a son than any other in the past.