Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thoughts on Sudbury from November 22, 2008

Last night, the Sudbury Wolves came to Niagara for the first time this season. It was an ol' fashioned shootout with Niagara coming out on top by a score of 5-4, thanks in part to three third period goals. It was also the first sellout of the year in Niagara, with the fans coming out to support the home ice return of Alex Pietrangelo.

Here are my thoughts on some of the Sudbury players...

Eric O'Dell (Drafted in 2008 by Anaheim/39th)

I thought O'Dell had an ok game. I expected a little bit more offensively from him, so I left slightly underwhelmed in that regard. He showed good speed entering the zone and worked the cycle pretty well with his linemates Lusnak and Staal. Even though he was a -3 on the night, I actually thought he was pretty solid defensively. For the most part, was always the first forward back into the zone, making one nice play to break up a 3 on 2. One thing I was a little perplexed with, was that O'Dell saw little to no penalty kill time. Instead, this was given to his linemmates Staal and Lusnak, whom are not as good or aware defensively as he is, IMO. Especially considering that at the Under 18's last year, O'Dell was a primary penalty killer for team Canada. If he's good enough to kill penalties for a gold medal winning Team Canada team, I would have assumed that he was good enough to do so for Sudbury. But then again, maybe that is why Sudbury's penalty kill is near the bottom of the league! I also thought that at times, O'Dell was floating offensively. Near the end of the game he turned on the extra gears and was forechecking hard, and was actually stopped on a breakway , but for the first two periods I felt the effort level wasn't quite as high. I still think he's got a shot at team Canada.

Marcus Foligno (NHL Draft Eligible in 2009)

Foligno was good in this game. He finished with a goal and an assist and his line was the most dangerous for Sudbury tonight. He's a real big boy, and he laid a couple of nice hits. He does kind of lumber around on the ice though, making him seem a little slower than he might actually be. Defensively, he was used a fair amount on the penalty kill and did a good job of gaining possession along the boards. The goal that he scored was actually a nifty little play, where Foligno shot the puck off the face off (as the centerman taking the draw), surprising Dogs goalie Mark Visentin and beating him five hole. Was a shot that should have been stopped, but none the less it was a creative and impressive play. Foligno is a smart player and it's easy to see why he's getting consideration for the first two rounds in 2009.

Jared Staal (Drafted in 2008 by Phoenix/49th)

I thought Staal looked absolutely terrible tonight. Although I would like to point out that I have seen him play a lot better. His -3 was deserved tonight as he was at times the last guy back to the defensive zone, lumbering his big frame into the play. At 6'3 and 200lbs, tonight he played like he was 5'6, 150. Worked little in the corners and spent most of the time circling the front of the net in hopes that one of his linemates could put a shot on net. You'd think that because of the small ice in Niagara, that his skating would not have been so obviously hindering, but it was. I felt like offensively, he was a step behind O'Dell and Lusnak all night. Tonight was just not his best game.

Peter Hermenegildo (NHL Draft Eligible in 2009)

Hermenegildo was so-so tonight. While he was one of the few players to finish the night on the plus side for Sudbury, he probably didn't deserve it. Proof on how useless that +/- stat actually is. He was caught up ice on two occasions, leading to odd man rushes and forcing either Eric O'Dell or Patrik Lusnak to come back and fill in for him. He also had an absolutely atrocious turnover. He was coming out with the puck infront of his net, but the Ice Dog forechecker met him, causing Hermenegildo to lose his balance. This left the Ice Dog player all alone in front of the net for a scoring opportunity, which he missed, followed by defensive partner Chris Van Laren taking a penalty to prevent a score on the rebound. But on the plus side, Hermenegildo did show a lot of poise in running the point on the powerplay, and making solid passes to lead the rush.

Patrik Lusnak (Overager and NHL free agent)

Lusnak did not impress me last night. I'd been hearing that he had improved greatly from last season. He's also the leading scorer for Sudbury and is actually tied for 6th in the OHL with 16 goals. And while he did show some good speed tonight, he also played somewhat selfishly. On a few occasions, he tried rushing the puck up ice and attempted to skate through the whole Dogs team, only to cough up the puck and prevent the offensive from setting up its attack. His passing ability also looked poor. In one particular occasion, a Sudbury player was wide open in front of the net, but Lusnak rushed the pass and put it behind him, ruining the scoring chance. Defensively, he was involved and he did play the PK. But after viewings last year, and tonight, I'm not sure I spend NHL money on him.

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