It’s September and the best part about September is that it is almost October. The 2011-2012 NHL season is on the horizon.
I generally find season previews annoying, mostly because they all say the same thing. Here is how they go: This player performed ___ last season. This season, we expect ____ from him because of ____. If the writer wants to add a little credibility to the opinions, he or she throws in a few stats. Screw that. I have something else in mind. Each defenseman will be evaluated within the parameters below and each such parameter is solely within our arbitrary and capricious discretion. Let’s get started.
1. At his best
2. At his worst
3. If only he
4. If I were to fight him
5. If Surly were to run from him
Jack Mother F’Ing Johnson
At his best, Jack is a top six forward (not a typo) who plays an efficient two-way game. If you are frustrated with Jack because he is not the prototypical defenseman, you’re a dummy. Judge him by standards consistent with his skill set – a force on the powerplay, offensive upside through the universe and the potential to not be a liability on defense. If he reaches that potential, we will have one of the best offensive defensemen in the league on our blue line.
At his worst, he is Terry Murray’s nightmare – aggressive pinches at the wrong time, giving the inside to rushing forwards, letting cross ice passes get through and, on the offensive side, sending slap shots high and wide.
If only he would focus less on strength and speed on defense and more on positioning & angles and use his lower body to gain leverage on the checks and pins along the boards.
If I were to fight him, distance would be key. I am an athlete as well, so his strength wouldn’t initially overwhelm me but I am guessing there is no way I survive if he gets a hold me long enough – enter cheating and cheap shots – if I can sweep the legs and do some damage while he is down, I may not get killed.
If Surly were to run from him, he wouldn’t get very far. Jack isn’t just big and strong, the Mother F’er is fast so I am thinking he has Surly in the first 10 steps and there is little left of my co-writer by the 6th punch.
At his best, his style resembles water boarding torture – relentless and suffocating. He is the porn star of the hockey world with his long stick. Willie Mitchell was my favorite defenseman last season, until his injury.
At his worst, he is injured or just returning from injury and therefore playing tentative…or not playing at all.
If only he would remain healthy, we would have a rock solid defensive defenseman in our top 4. Mitchell is the glue that keeps the defense together.
If I were to fight him, he would laugh at my jokes and take me fishing.
If Surly were to run from him, he would catch Surly and invite him fishing…because that’s the kind of upstanding guy Willie is.
At his best, Scuderi is a poor man’s Nicklas Lidstrom – exceptional positioning on defense, cuts down the angles better than any other Kings’ defenseman, clears the front of the net and doesn’t overcommit to any play. Now, he comes with no offensive upside, but who cares. That’s not in his job description.
At his worst, he struggles in the rough and tumble games. While Scuderi is no slouch, the most effective way of neutralizing him is playing him hard and physical.
If only he would teach that positioning skill to Jack Johnson…Jack would win a Norris.
If I were to fight him, I would wear a “support our troops” ribbon and talk about my positive experiences with law enforcement. We would become best friends.
If Surly were to run from him, he would probably let Surly go while he and I point and laugh.
At his best, he is a young Matty Norstrom – defensively competent, physical, a leader on and off the ice. When the game slows down, Greene excels.
At his worst, he has a slow first step, poor mid range speed and is a liability when shutting down creative offensive forwards who stay away from the boards.
If only he would get faster – goodness, what a defenseman he could be if he had speed.
If I were to fight him, I would borrow Willie Mitchell’s stick and at all times maintain a distance of 6 feet.
If Surly were to run from him, Greener would probably crack jokes the entire chase, force Surly to slow down due to laughter and then pummel him.
At his best, he has flashes of a top 4 defenseman within him – great speed, especially mid-range (with a beautiful glide), an accurate shot, deft passing, solid defensive instincts, willingness to hit and be hit and a swagger all his own.
At his worst, he is a reliable bottom pairing defenseman. The kid has very new negatives. What a difference a year makes.
If only he can keep improving, he would be interchangeable between top 4, bottom 2 and could fit in any circumstance – power play, penalty kill, 5 on 5, defensive role, you name it.
If I were to fight him, I would kick his butt. Period.
If Surly were to run from him, I would tell Surly to turn around and go kick his butt.
Words cost money, especially great ones. I have been writing for you for 2 years. That is 2 years of quality material that has kept you informed, entertained and yearning for more. Here we are again. You are reading this article and enjoying it, as you should. But what about me? What’s in it for me? Where is my pay-day? Don’t tell me you’ll buy me a beer. Screw you and your beer. Is that what I am worth to you? A beer? I have paid my dues. I deserve more than, “hey, great article, Scribe” or “Brilliant, amazing, Chaucer has nothing on you”. I want financial remuneration, long-term, something that will take care of me and mine for a very long time. If you want to keep receiving the same prose, then prepare to pay the price. No deal in principles here…just good old-fashioned greed.
Drew Doughty’s replacement
At his best (this season), he would fit nicely in the bottom pairing role while Martinez shows his stuff in the top 4. He will give Terry Murray options so when Murray needs the size and strength out there, he will fit in. When Terry needs more of an offensive upside, he goes to Martinez.
At his worst, he will make mental mistakes. That just comes from youth and inexperience but, with time, comes that experience and I expect he will get better as the season progresses.
If only he can shine from day 1 and make Drew Doughty, in the short-term, look expendable. Nobody in their right mind would want Doughty replaced by any of our prospects during the season’s long haul but, for my team, I don’t want to see them miss a step as a result of Drew’s absence.
If I were to fight him, his mom Judy would kick my butt.
If Surly were to run from him, Judy would scream, “keep running!”
Who am I writing about here? Come on. The kid has skills. He has only begun to show them.