Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wild Pound Peoria

Okay, it's the preseason.

Even though it's getting down to the end, when teams normally are identifying their opening night rosters and icing them to develop chemistry or cohesion or whatever cliche you particularly enjoy, my guess is that a lot of guys whose NHL jobs are secure are probably not giving 100%. As such, these games don't really mean anything, and are certainly not predictive of regular season things-to-come.

This is possibly why Blues' coach Andy Murray decided to leave virtually all of his probable starters (goalie Manny Legace notwithstanding) in St. Louis and take the kids on a little trip to St. Paul. Conversely, JL played a lineup almost entirely made up of probable regulars. The result was a 7-0 win for the Wild.

The game was scoreless after one period, and the Wild exploded for six in the second (including 4 in a 4.5 minute span) and added the cherry on top in the third. Blues goalie Legace had to have been pissed. The poor guy was abandoned by his teammates - and he played quite well overall, all things considered.

I thought Benny Pouliot played a strong game, and Shawn Belle also played fine. I was unimpressed with Dominic Moore.

Here's my problem with guys like Moore, Foy, Radio, and Veilleux: they're all fighting for maybe two of the three spots on the fourth line. But none of them has stepped up to really claim a job. They're all basically different shades of the same color, and I really don't care which of them ends up playing on our fourth line - as long as two or three of them actually earn it.

Boogaard is technically in this group, but his is a unique value to the team being that he's the only guy we have who scares anyone on another team. Now if the current trend of refs targeting him and giving him a shorter leash than everyone else continues, maybe that value will be nullified. But until it does, he warrants at least a split of a fourth line spot.

But guys like Moore just don't have the margin for error to be invisible in a game like last night. I'd really like to see the team make some actual decisions with these guys, and get rid of the one or two that don't earn a job. I'd also like to see the team play one of the kids (like Pouliot) even if it means losing a guy like Radio. I don't think you're counting on Radio for more than a handful of points, and he doesn't do anything else that much better than a guy like Pouliot. Add into the mix the fact that Pouliot's ceiling is obviously a lot higher than Radio's (or Moore's, Foy's or Veilleux's) and there's no reason to keep dead weight on the roster right now.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Ironically, both teams can chalk this one up to a preseason game mentality. Hard to get too excited about how anything looked because it wasn't a very good litmus test at all. Individually, Pouliot and Belle saw their stock rise a bit.

STUD: Rolston who now has five preseason goals in three games. His whole line was great (PMB and Belanger) but he finished.

DUD: Moore. Sorry, but when you're fighting for a job you have to show me more than that.



Kris said...

I am not sure Moore did so bad last night. It was the first preseason game I was able to watch. But, what are you going to show when you are on a line with Boogard and Veilleux? It was not a place that could have really shown any sort of flash, only hard skating and fighting for the puck, and physical play. But, Pouliot looked really sharp out there with Gabby and Demitra. Especially, on Demitra's last goal that looked like it was scored by Gaborik or Pouliot.

Nick in New York said...

kris: I only saw the game online, so if you saw it in person you're in a much better position to grade one of the players than I was.

That being said, in the first Detroit game, Foy absolutely stood out, and he was on Boogey's line too. Now, Boogey got tossed in that game, but I thought Foy did a good job of bringing energy even before DB got the gamer.