Ramblings: Marchand, Pouliot, TNA and more (Sept 12)

by Dobber on September 11, 2016

Rambling about Brad Marchand, Team North America, Derrick Pouliot and more …

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Last Fantasy Guide update was Saturday. I also updated the Draft List. Updates start coming fast and furious (daily or even multiple times per day) when camp opens and there are lots of changes.

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It looks like my fears expressed in last Wednesday’s Ramblings were completely unfounded. These players are giving their all! I’ve caught three pre-tourney games so far and I don’t think anyone can argue the enthusiasm of Team North America or the physicality of Team USA. And whether USA’s  tough brand of hockey brought Team Canada up from ‘not caring’ to ‘caring’ – or if Team Canada was already taking things seriously, the fact is that they do care now and the reason doesn’t matter.

I haven’t tuned into any games involving the European teams yet (other than Team Europe vs. TNA) so I can’t speak to those guys yet, but I can only assume the level of caring is similar.

Honestly though, when I see stuff like this I become 100 times more vested. I’m right in this thing now. Nobody else dropped out from an “injury” and every player on the ice is giving his all. Anyway, if they care this much – even those players not playing for an actual country – then perhaps this tournament format will work after all.

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So after watching the pre-tournament games, how is my $100 wager on Team North America looking?

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From now on, instead of saying “Oh my God!” or “Great Scott!” or whatever, I think we should all say “By Thornton’s beard!”

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The World Cup ‘actually’ begins on Saturday, September 17. Sweden’s final pretournament game is Wednesday against Team Europe and they have a couple of players who may not be able to play. Rickard Rakell and Marcus Kruger may have to be replaced, but both are getting close. Teams can replace an injured player up until Friday.

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Do you think that sometimes an average player plays with an elite player he becomes a better player, and that sudden influx of hidden talent seems to stay with the average player even when he’s no longer playing with the elite guy? I do. I’ve seen it a lot over the years with players of varying degrees of skill. A 30-point guy plays with a superstar for a year or two and is a 55-point guy, and when he stops playing with the superstar (perhaps one was traded, or whatever) and he’s a 40- or 45-point guy. Or a 50-point guy plays with a superstar and becomes a 75-point guy, and afterwards he’s a 65-point guy even without the superstar. It’s because he’s treated differently. The coach treats him like that star scorer even without his superstar linemate. He’s given more situations ideal for scoring.

Anyway, the point is – we all saw how Brad Marchand scored 37 goals last season. And almost to a person, we believe that he will take a step back this year. Regress. Expectations are 55 points, perhaps 50. But now I’m starting to wonder. Not only is he coming off the high of scoring 37 goals – which by the way is more than any other player on Team Canada scored – but now he’s playing with Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron. This does a couple of things. First, it further solidifies the chemistry and bond he has with Bergeron. And being the permanent linemate of your team’s best player is always a good thing. Second, it has to do wonders for his state of mind. His focus will be less on agitating and more on scoring. Just a subtle shift in his psyche compounded on his already high confidence of scoring 37 times in a season. Last year he took 35% more shots than he’s ever taken in a season. And his ice time went up by a full minute per game over his career high. His bond with Bergeron will see to it that the latter happens again (or more) and his shifted psyche will see to it that the former happens again too.

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So if the Oilers already have:

Lucic – McDavid – Eberle

Pouliot – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi

Maroon – Nugent-Hopkins – Yakupov

Hendricks – Letestu – Kassian – with Lander extra

How can Kris Versteeg make the team? Well, he could play well enough that the Oilers can decide to put Jesse Puljujarvi in the AHL. Stupid? Puljujarvi is NHL-ready? Well that doesn’t matter and you know it. Over the years hundreds of players are NHL-ready and are sent down. In fact, hundreds of players would have not only belonged on the NHL team in question, but they would have been one of the five or six best forwards on that team. And they were still sent down. Doubly so during the cap era. I’m not saying Puljujarvi will be sent down. I don’t believe he will. I’m saying that I won’t fall out of my chair if he does – especially if Versteeg has a great training camp and earns a contract.

Another option – healthy scratches. Both Maroon and Kassian have had their share over the last couple of years. And if the roster remains healthy after a few weeks and constant healthy scratches are starting to do more harm than good – then you’d look for a trade (i.e. Yakupov). But if Versteeg has a strong camp then the team will find a way.

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Things are getting very serious for Montreal prospect Martin Reway. We knew that he was hospitalized with a virus (announced last week), but he has now been moved to the intensive care unit of the department of pneumology and phthisiology. No further details have been given, but the term “phthisiology” is the care and treatment of tuberculosis of the lung. Pneumology is synonymous with respiratory or chest medicine. My thoughts and best wishes go to Reway and his family.

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I’ve written here a couple of times about Derrick Pouliot’s offseason, but I didn’t know that he was training under Gary Roberts (or else I knew and just forgot). Anyway, I own him in one of my three keeper leagues and I’m quite happy to hear about how hard he’s working and how much he cares about his fitness level and diet. He doesn’t have a spot on the roster right now – he has to earn one. This is a great first step.

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