This post when up on http://www.mackeenshockey.com
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Feedback, Banter, Debate always welcome
This post when up on http://www.mackeenshockey.com
click the link to read:
Feedback, Banter, Debate always welcome
Position: Stay at home, Shut down, Defense
Height: 6’3 Weight: 205
Regular Season: 67GP, 1G, 19A, +7, PMI 68
Playoffs: 17GP, 1G, 5A, +2, PMI 39
-Holzer does not have breaking speed and at times can get burned to the outside or inside by high-speed forwards, however it is rare due to strong position and ability to read the play.
-Directional Changes, pivots and foot work are what help Holzer keep up his strong defensive play, ability to track and follow opposing forwards closely he rarely gives up space when defending, may come off as slower, but position play makes up for it. Doesn’t overreact.
-Not a defenseman known for his pinching, generally has a head of speed when skating backwards and rare to see him get burned, NHL caliber with his reverse stride.
-Shot is accurate but not overly heavy or quick on the release (goal total good example) can be blocked effectively.
-Seems to know effectiveness of his shot therefore plays puck deep to create cycles and has ability to keep play in the zone. Doesn’t force shot, would rather keep play alive.
-Effective using first past to clear the zone or skating out under pressure, relies on D partner, utilizes D to D passes and doesn’t rush clearing attempts.
-Not at all flashy with puck skills, stays poised and makes timely, simple, well thought out decisions. Rarely seen forcing a play.
-Will never be cast as a fighter but brings a tough streak, wont back down or be pushed around and always comes to the aid of teammates during post whistle scrums etc.
-Works hard night in and night out, shows a sense of maturity that seems to come from being an older prospect, having played 2 NHL games and at the Olympics. Speaks well with the media and appears mature and composed.
-Digs pucks out well and frees up space, pounces on loose pucks
-Although strong on the boards Holzer gets knocked down a bit easier than it seems a player his size should. Could benefit from a bit more core strength.
-Can take a hit to make a play and doesn’t appear shaken up as a result. A Strength in Holzer’s game is separating his man from puck quick and effectively. This helped with a quick Marlies transition game in the 2011/12 season.
-Not a defensive playmaker in the sense that you will never see Holzer lead the rush, true highlight of his game is making his goalies life easier.
-Anticipates the play well, drops back for coverage early and remains in solid position majority of the time.
-Plays below the goal line a little to much at times, would like to see Holzer as more of a net clearing presence; leaning on forwards (D partner was more inclined, coaching?)
-Calm under pressure, usually part of the first shift on ice after scoring or conceding a goal, frequently in starting line-up and mainstay on the PK
-Heavy PK minutes for one of the top units in the AHL all last season. Not overly versatile beyond PK and shutdown D
-Defensive play is Holzer’s strong suit, he reads and reacts very well and controls gaps with persistence giving opposing forwards very little time and space.
-Position is always solid and knows what zone his game belongs in, doesn’t stay to high ever.
-Works the slot well and has an active stick in passing lanes, breaking up plays, especially on the PK
-Ties up opponents effectively but would like to see Holzer clear the crease in a more physical manner to increase effectiveness.
-Speaks well, knows the language and conducts himself as a professional on and off the ice.
-Constant communication with D partner, leads the defensive charge on the ice.
In Conclusion, Holzer cracking the Leafs lineup seemed pretty likely especially when Franson committed to Europe for the entire 2012-13 season and they have very little resembling a true shut down D man on the pro roster. It can’t hurt of he continues to develop in the (talent boosted) AHL for this year, but expect him to get a long look if training camps open. His time is now, just gotta wait for the ink to dry on the new CBA
Feedback, Opinion and Debate always welcome.
Since the JVR for Schenn trade broke earlier today I have spend sometime getting aquainted with the arsenal that van Riemsdyk brings to the Leafs top 6 (more on top 6 later). I put together a few notes to give Leafs fans an idea of whats coming.
James van Riemsdyk:
- Looks quick on his skates pivots well to find open ice to shoot from. Has a good first step and can create separation from defender on the rush. Lets hope his hip problems haven’t slowed him down at all, that speed is essential for him to fit in the line-up
-Has a couple good curl moves that put him into the slot for good shooting position. When he creates a fraction of space he gets his shot off quick to capitalize and looks to catch goalies off guard.
-Hands are good in tight with a soft finish, he seems to hit the top of net with ease, he is shiftier that I would have expected and almost fools goalies by the looks of it.
-While I wouldn’t call it the fastest shot in the league JVR gets his off quick and heavy, can find small openings. He’s shifty in tight and uses his defender well as a screen when backing them down taking advantage of that ability to shoot accuratly into small spaces.
-Comes off the boards well, not sure how well he plays on them, could be more physical with his size and I’m sure he could still fill out at only 23 years old.
Here one of the better vids I saw:
I would Pencil JVR in on the second line for now, which is gonna push one of MacAuthur or Kulemin down the line-up or out of it all together, I get the sense that one (or both) will be moved at some point to make room for the newest addition.That 1st we were apparently offer for MacAuthur at the deadline would look good right now based on who fell in the draft.
Luke Schenn it was great ride, would have liked to see you after a summer with Barb Underhill (Leafs new skating coach who has helped many players get quicker) always liked you, hope you hit your potential, thanks bud.
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The NHL head offices breathed a collective sigh as the New York Rangers we eliminated and they lost their dream match-up of the 2 biggest markets in the US competing for the Stanley Cup. Can we all take a second and think of how Gary Bettman would be arguing with whomever from the media, about how great the game is in the US if that had occurred? Sorry Gary, the dream match up has died and the intense forecheckers have won out, can’t always get what we want. I’ll stop ragging on the Devils boring brand of Hockey here for the time being and focus on the match up we do have. Besides, the Kings would have stomped the Rangers with their big bodies anyway.
So New Jersey has played their system to a tea and infuriated their last 2 opponents to death, if one of these 2 teams has gotten better as the playoffs have gone on, its New Jersey without question. After taking the Panthers to 7 games and making easier work than anyone predicted (except me, see last blog) of their last 2 opponents they find themselves facing what has been the most consistent and dominate team through out the playoffs in The LA Kings. If they can carry the momentum they’ve built to a new level they will certainly frustrate an emotional LA Kings team. The Devils to me play a similar style to the Coyotes and we all saw what the Kings did to them, they took away their time and space and wore them down physically until they found the cracks in Mike Smith. Can LA do the same thing to The Devils? I think they can but it might be the toughest challenge yet.
I’m having a hard time coming to a conclusion about Marty Brodeur is he a savy vet that knows how to win? or is he a 40 year old goalie who’s play is slipping? It seems the young athletic netminder is taking over in these playoffs and based on quality of goals allowed alone, I give a pretty steep edge to Jon Quick (LA’s MVP no doubt). Its the Cup Finals though and you never know how a guy like Quick with take the pressure and we don’t know how valuable Brodeur’s experience will be. Marty can still win but I think were seeing a Playoff MVP performance from Quick (win or lose, just like Giggy in 03′). In the battle of the goalies its to hard not to give the nod to Quick, he’s been too good the first 3 rounds and there is no sign of him slowing up. Brodeur has been good too, but a couple of weak goals makes me believe that Marty might not be quite as sharp this time around. Edge here goes to Quick.
Would anyone like to know how valuable Mike Richards is about to become? If you haven’t noticed yet you will in the Cup Final. This is not the Coyotes, their are some seriously talented forwards on this Devils team, a few that Richards is very fimilar with from his days in Philly. No one plays an in-your-face shut down style better than Richards can, and Parise, Kovalchuk, Zajac and even Henrique are about to learn that the hard way, scary part is Richards can still score (the goal where he looked off Luongo in rd 1, beauty). I called out a couple forwards on LA to Step up in Round 3 and I’m calling Richards number again. This will be his best (and most important) series of the 2012 playoffs, the guy knows how to step up when it counts and were about to see it.
The biggest factor in the success of the Devils so far these playoffs has been their forecheck and their play below the goal line. They have yet to meet their biggest challenge, mainly named Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar (not to mention the 3rd and 4th lines on LA). Big Bodies, hard hits and strong board play has been the recipe for the Kings success these playoffs and as good as the Devils have been, I don’t think they can match what the Kings are about to throw at them. Simply because no one has been able to match them yet and I don’t see anyone starting now.
I mentioned in my Conference finals blog that Penner was coming around, and that needed to continue for LA to succeed, well Penner notched the series clinching goal in the 3rd round and looks like he is more inspired than ever, a le shades of Ducks past. Doughty has continued to get better as the playoffs have gone on and him, along with Penner need that to continue that if they want to win. Would really like to see Jeff Carter play better, guy has to much skill not to look better, Richards and Penner have carried that line. Carter needs to forget about getting hurt and stop loafing around in this Joe Thornton-esq parameter game. Get Dirty, go to the net, and get your shot off where it counts! In the slot.
One thing that could do LA in? Emotions. Doughty was fired up in the last PHX/LA game and it was basically all directed at the refs, he’s not doing himself or his team any favors doing that and I’m sure all officials have taken note and really have no desire to help Doughty out here. He might be the most important skater to his team at this point and is relied on heavily. Keep calm and carry on doing what your doing, don’t let the officials break you, direct your emotion at the other team.
I know I’m going with the easy pick in LA but really they looked to be so dominate on paper at the start of the year maybe they have just started to peak. So it took longer than most expected and a coaching change was needed. But hey, remember how bad the Pens were in 09′ BEFORE they brought in Bylsma, only to win a Stanley Cup. Sutter coming in mid-season plays a big factor in this. The Kings have hardly come out flat once in these playoffs making game 1 big for them, game 3 back in Los Angeles might be just as big (Hollywood will rock). If the Kings take both of those and they should be able to take this series.
LA Kings in 6
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feedback, banter and debate always welcome.
I went 1-3 in the Second Round of the playoffs bring my total to 5-7 on perdictions so far in these playoffs, I was really buying into the Flyers and the Blues but Philly was horribly out coached (like “I would keep a short leash next year” out coached, Lavi seems like emotion gets the best of him). The Blues proved that experience pays and with the chips down they couldn’t rebound and stop the Kings momentum.
On to Round 3:
(1) New York Rangers Vs (6) New Jersey Devils
Well the Capitals gave the Rangers all they could handle in the Conference Semis and managed to give us a really-exciting-yet-incredibly-boring-shot-blocking-and-5-sweater-in-front-of-their-goalie, 7 game series. I’m impressed that a team as soft as the Rangers has made it this far. All but the 4th line (Prust-Mitchell-Rupp) have looked mediocre along the boards and with the physical game. Richards is a gamer and I am starting to think he might be one of the most intelligent players in hockey, he understands situations as best as any and continues to elevate his play, becoming better the deeper his team gets. Richards has the mind of a coac in the making, wouldn’t be surprised to see him go that route or jump to management like Yzerman. There is no question that Lunqvist is the MVP for this Rangers team right now, but if Richards continues his upswing with 2 rounds to left he could be hoisting his second Stanley Cup/Conn Smyth trophy. Paging Marion Gaborik… Where is this guy? I mean come on, Alex Semin had a better series that Gaborik did. He looks scared out there losing pucks to avoid big hits and generally wincing away from physical play, Rangers are going nowhere if Gaborik and his $7m can’t step up in some capacity. He was a part of the Del Zotto GW goal in game 7 but still, not very effective beyond that.
After singing the praise of the Rangers you might think that I’m writing an end to the Cinderella story that has got the New Jersey Devils into the Conference finals. Well its what has got them to the Conference finals that is gonna prove to be the biggest headache for the Rangers. The devils used an intelligent and relentless forecheck to infuriate the Flyers, take away their space and dominate the game below the goal line. A situation that Philly’s defense couldn’t handle. A similar game plan against a less physical Rangers team could really put a halt to their momentum coming off an impressive game 7 win. If the Rangers shut down the skill on the Caps, they won, plain and simple. I believe their is more skill and experience on this Devils group, and their forward’s are going to bring a 3 line attack that will play relentless hockey on a more consistent basis that the Caps could muster. You’ll see the Rangers get caught out of this position this series because of the way Jersey attacks, collapsing on your goalie over and over only gets you so far. As long as Marty can be the guy he’s been the first 2 rounds then I think the Devils can take this, Elias, Kovi, Henrique, Clarkson, Parise, Sykora go high glove.
NJ Devils in 6
(4) Phoenix Coyotes Vs (8) Los Angeles Kings
So can it be said that this series is first and foremost who’s goaltender can be as good, or better than they were in the first 2 rounds. Until the first shots are fired on net we wont know which one of these very skilled and very different netminders will stay on his Lights-Out path that brought his team to this point. By pure history of each goalies situations, I say Quick is the superior player right now. No disrespect intended to Mike Smith. He is carrying a Phoenix team on his back. Not to mention maybe, literally, the future of the franchise along with this playoff run.. LA has got a good swagger going and the star power to back it up. Carter, Richards and Penner have all played in the cup final and they could all say they have something to prove, unexpected trades, contracts, rumors, drinking, pancakes, injuries, attitude. You name it these dudes lives have been dissected over the last few year and they are not the NHL’s golden boys. Bet they would like to win to shut all that talk up. Mix in a less that stellar year from Doughty, who really has LOTS to prove still as an NHL player but whom really has started to turn things up a notch. Then you have the man who calms the team down and seems to just play at the highest level of cruise control possible; Dustin Brown is the perfect leader right now for this team. Sutter has a composed bunch of highly motivated players, hitting hard and line matching perfectly. When they break down, Quick has been the best in the playoffs.
Phoenix, just like their great goalie mentioned above, deserves a lot of credit. I, for one didn’t think they would make it this far. They have looked boring but effective beating Chicago and Nashville in shorter fashion than anyone predicted. No team remaining can say they put away their first 2 opponents as easy as the Coyotes have. The Yotes fan(s) are behind this team and they are incredibly well coached and well captained just like the Kings. However the superstars are on the Kings, they have the top end talent. In the biggest and best situations, the biggest and best players show up. Richards and Doughty will be very good in this series, like Team Canada good, Carter and Penner are starting to follow suit. LA’s best will be their best and Phoenix wont be able to handle it.
LA Kings in 6
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Feedback, Banter & Debate always welcome
If you haven’t been to Ricoh Coliseum to catch a Toronto Marlies game, Its not to late. Fresh off sweeping The Heat in their own building they have earned themselves a birth Calder Cup Conference finals. The Marlies seem to be playing with a drive that says to Leaf Nation “stand up and take note, were bringing you PLAYOFF HOCKEY”.
In a city that has had its fair share playoff drought the Marlies are serving you at least a light beer to help quench your thirst. You know, its not quite the real thing but its pretty close and the more you have of it the more your want. This brings me to my next point; there is talent on this team and you will see several of these Marlies players don the Maple Leaf sweater in the not so distant future.
Now before you go crazy and say that this is nothing like NHL Playoff hockey, your right and I agree. However the best part about a league of guys who will mostly never see lengthy NHL careers, is that when someone in this league has talent, it easier to pick them out and man, is their skill fun to watch.
Anyone interested in watching Jake Gardiner break out of his own zone with grace and ease? Walk the offensive line and have 2 opposing players collaps on him just so he can’t completely dominate in one-on-one coverage? I can only imagine how much Gardiner would have dominate this league if he spent a full season in the minors. Gardiner has done a an amazing job in the playoff games I have taken in giving the Marlies transition game a shot in the arm. After seeing this team play several forwards on the point during the powerplay throughout the regular season they look dangerous and structured with Gardiner manning the point the entire 2 minutes. Just a pure talent to watch, he must be loving the extra time and space the AHL provides.
Holzer will play shutdown in the NHL mark those words, he’s tough, positionally sound to go with a good reach and he’s physical, not overly tough but can certainly hold his own and lean the way he needs too. Tough to say more about him, he’s hard to notice at times buts that because he’s not out of position much, Aulie became expendable because of Holzer’s development.
I can’t sit here and tell you Jerry D’amigo is gonna be a full time NHLer, if I could, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing a blog. He has been a leader these playoffs and really taken his game to another level. I know its a steep comparison but D’amigo is starting to remind me a little of Marty St.Louis. His speed and authority going to the net have been driven up gear and looks like he can dominate the competition in the AHL when he desires. He posses and heavy shot and is getting it to the net in good scoring positions, and thus has been rewarded with 6 G, 9 Pts and a +10 in 8 games this season. I’ve seen Jerry up close and he’s certainly not the biggest man, but he has a low center of gravity and thick shoulders. Those assets bode well for him furthering his career, If he can keep his speed up while he continues to get stronger I think he could take a regular shift in the NHL sooner than later. Not to mention he’s proving he can step up when it matters, remember why he signed for 1st round money? Because he scored 7G, 12 Pts in 7 World Jr Championship games after he was picked in the 6th round. Lets hope he carries this over to the conference finals and training camp in September.
What can we say about Nazem Kadri that hasn’t already been said by everyone with access to a media outlet. I don’t care if you love him or hate him, his skill is very clear and he’s learning to harness it, all the while being damn fun to watch. He seems to disregard his body in the mold of Grabovski and makes moves to finish plays regardless of the outcome. Their have been whispers that Kadri will be a regular under Randy Carlyle next season, he will be given every chance to succeed with the new coach, something Wilson seemed to have little patients for. There are nights as recently as the this second round that Kadri has been clear and away the best forward on the ice. I don’t know why I’ve never heard it before, but Kadri reminds me of Patick Kane the way he slips checks but with slightly lesser hands (and less blood alcohol level). I want Kadri to succeed because his skill says he should, the pieces have to fall into place soon or I truly believe he will be trade bait next year. Going into maybe the most important offseason of his career, he is doing his best to put it off with a very solid Calder Cup run.
I feel really bad Carter Ashton, gets a extended call up with the Leafs goes goalless and then in a move to end the season on a high note he is slated for top 6 minutes with the Marlies again and only manages 2 playoff games before suffering a concussion. Brutal luck for Ashton but he’s back next year so lets hope he’s good for camp.
This is one is not fun to be writing about but what has happened to Joe Colborne? I started writing this blog before it came out that he was scratched with a real troublesome cut on his hand that has required freezing and multiple stitch jobs. Something has to be up other than this cut, his second half drop off is becoming hard to explain and I feel like we wont be hearing much else until the season is over. He doesn’t look right, injury or not, thats all I know because its what I see.
I mention the injury situation amid the Marlies success because when publications like The Hockey News have Colborne and Ashton at 18 and 37 respectively in their Future Watch rankings its exciting that this young team is getting it done WITHOUT them. This Calder run highlights the depth in young talent that this team has and gives some credit to our current management regime who are on a course to finally build from within.
Instead of the Leafs letting Dallas Eakins speak with other clubs this offseason they should just make Carlyle show him the ropes as an assistant coach. Give Randy 2 others of his choice but an assistant coach with extensive knowledge of the farm team could never be a bad thing. Reports of Eakins being an exceptional communicator shouldn’t go over looked, staying the course and maintaining the relationships he has built up is a win/win for the entire organization going forward. Do we want to be the Habs? A team with no Coach and 2 former prime candidates (Guy Boucher & Kirk Muller) working for other teams? I think not. Eakins’ deserves close to head coach money to help finish what he started with the Marlies, but on the big club.
You sprinkle in some leadership from the likes of Mike Zigomanis, a physical scoring presence in Matt Farttin (5G, 7Pts in 8 GP) and extremely good netminding from Ben Scrivens (7-1 with .944 Sv% 1.61 GAA). The Marlies are the whole package, they are rolling 4 lines and growing the experience of the Leafs organizations with every game they play in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Do yourself a favor and get out to a Marlies game, there is a lot to be learned about where the Leafs are heading.
Thanks for Reading.
So I went 4-4 in the first round, picking the Blues, Yotes, Preds and Devils as winners. Not bad, lets hope I can bring the record over .500 in the second. Heres my second round picks, read and enjoy.
Western Conference Round 2:
(8) Los Angeles Kings Vs (2) St Louis Blues
Well was I wrong about the Canucks, those Kings wingers gave them some serious physical hell to deal with and they could not handle it. Now the Blues are different story they are full of piss and vinegar will be able to respond to the physical play of Richards, Brown, Stoll, Penner and the entire 4th line that the Kings will try and throw at them.. Like Mike Gillis said end of season the Kings are very well coached, I was impressed with Sutter’s matching and the of level focus he’s got his team playing with. It hard to touch on the Goalies in this series, due to the fact that they may be the best two (three?) playing so far in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If its Halak or Elliot it doesn’t seem to matter to the Blues they seem to have the utmost confidence in either tender. This is a tough call and maybe the hardest of the 2nd round, its going long and will be a good watch despite what is being billed as a weak ratings 2nd round.
Blues in 7
(4) Nashville Predators Vs (5) Phoenix Coyotes
I’m starting to believe my pre-playoffs though that the Pred could make it all the way to the Stanley Cup final, I was trying to convince myself because on paper they looked great and they added depth at the deadline, but to be totally honest I didn’t have a chance to watch them much from the deadline until the playoffs started. HOWEVER since the playoffs have started I think they look as good as anyone and I pose to you this question. Who does your top pair shut down if your team scores by committee? No one has more that 5 points (Radulov), 2 players with 4 points, 1 with 3 points and 6 players with 2 points. Some might argue they can’t score, I will argue lots of them can score and when you sleep on them a bottom 6 line will bite you in the ass. Rinnie can also stop the puck as good as Quick and Smith have been doing so. This starts to build up a goaltending battle for this series but the Coyotes have depth too and have looked good at times really taking it to the (sort of weak) Blackhawks in round 1. I think we will see a few OT game here, but I think the Preds have been built to go deep this year as long as the can keep scoring they are a threat. Look for this series to get rough on the boards and be quite physical (maybe most physical in the 2nd round). Hal Gill returns for game 1, if the legs are good he helps The Preds clog things up and on the PK
Predators in 6
Eastern Conference Round 2:
(7) Washington Capitals Vs (1) New York Rangers
Well Caps you did it, its got to the point where this Caps team has needed and entire season of struggle a coaching change and a game 7 upset of the defending champs. Not sure where Dale Hunter learned to bench his stars, but it wasn’t in London, how long do his best Knights players take shifts for? Thats what I thought. But he’s got through to the bottom 6 and the hard-workers on the Caps and they are making a little room for the stars, Holtby is in a trance and things are coming together in Washington. The Rangers looked over matched at times against a dynamic and resilient Sens team, but their big boys are starting to roll and in the last 2 games of the 1st round The Rangers looked like they were finally playing playoff hockey. If they play as good as Torts bitches they can this might turn out to be their easiest series in the post season. Motivated by the loss of Boyle, Richards playing as he should (it took a few games), and a feisty and driven Lunqvist. Spells and end for the Caps. Watch the Caps fall back to run and gun and watch the Rangers block shots, clog the middle and counter really well.. Breakaways anyone?
Rangers in 6
(6) New Jersey Devils Vs (5) Philadelphia Flyers
Well the Flyers seem to be lucky or very good, they got the Pens to play their game, pissed them off and took advantage of it. I could see the Devils falling into the same trap as the Pens did, but the Flyers are gonna take it to the Devils and hard, it will be interesting to how they respond. The main factors that I keep dwelling on are the stars on the Devils and the Goalies in the nets. In one you have Kovalchuk a man who wants to win, but is already paid, Parise an expiring UFA who elected not to negotiate until the end of the season. One can only assume to boost his payday after a good playoffs, starting anytime now would help Zach. If the Flyers can wear down these Devils players and take away their space, the series is theirs for the taking. However is all about what is in net, can Bryz match Marty? If so, the Flyers forwards will emerge and continue as the legit threat they are; a deep 4 line team. Its been beautiful Marty, good luck. X factor? David Clarkson and his ability to do eveything the Flyers can
Flyers in 6
Thanks for Reading, next round I’ll be making my picks all the way to the final.
As always, Banter, Debate, Feedback always welcome