Richard and I had the opportunity to take in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals last night in Winnipeg. Here are a few notes on some of the selected players:
Corey Schneider: Taking a brief moment to acknowledge once again that I know nothing about goaltenders, Schneider played a very solid game. He seems to be technically sound, is always square to the shooter and has impressive reflexes. He faced a lot of shots and tons of traffic, but is able to use his size to fight through it and make the key saves. Kept the Moose in the game during some hectic moments. The downside to his game is that he gives up an awful lot of rebounds, and was bailed out numerous times by his skaters.
Michael Neuvirth: We noticed that he plays a very similar style of game to Schneider, and last night’s game was definitely a goaltenders duel. Neuvirth plays the same basic style as Schneider, though he gives up slightly fewer rebounds. He really didn’t give the Moose shooters much until Jason Jaffray’s game winner, which Neuvirth likely should have stopped.
Michael Grabner: He has come a long ways since we first saw him a couple years ago. He is a much stronger skater, and stronger period. No longer easy to knock off the puck, Grabner can use a powerful stride and a quick first step to beat defenders wide. He was held off the scoresheet last night, but he was able to make things happen in the face of a stifling Bears defense.
Chris Bourque: If he was a couple inches taller, we likely would have been talking about him in the Caps-Pens series. A quick skater with excellent lateral movement, Bourque possesses NHL calibre playmaking and shooting skills. Able to play with some grit, Bourque was all over the ice last night and frequently backed in Moose defenders with his speed and shiftiness. I would be shocked if he didn’t make the Caps next fall.
Mark Fistric: After hearing so much about him, we were both a little underwhelmed with his game last night. Prone to bad decision making and not terribly fleet of foot, Fistric gets burned often trying to play the riverboat gambler style. He did make several nice plays to keep plays alive and is very, very strong (separating guys from pucks with one arm, etc.) but he needs to learn his limitations in order to have a positive impact going forward.
Cody Hogdson: He had little impact in limited viewing. Not much ice time, and when he did play he lined up on RW.
Matt Pope: A pleasant surprise from the Where The F@#% Did He Come From Tree, Pope had a very strong game and was impressive at both ends of the rink. This Bemidji State product looks like another coup for the Moose scouting department.
News and Notes: The MTS Centre was electric last night, with nearly ear splitting crowd noise and some very enthusiastic fans, including a Hutterite family that was on the edge of their seats all night and some guy in a Sidney Crosby jersey that yelled the entire game. The other end of the spectrum were the slightly sauced and very funny girls sitting next to us, who came up with such gems as, “Oh my God guys, he forgot the puck” (upon seeing a turnover) and “Guys, guys! Look! The shots are 28-28, isn’t that funny?” Lets hope their passed out friend made it home ok.
Lastly, we would like to take a minute to note that we still despise the bad angle one-timers on the Power Play. The Moose love to try and give the cross-ice feed to Jason Jaffray as he sets up at the bottom of the circle. This angle presents a very low percentage shot, with a far greater chance of him missing the net and clearing the zone. We see this all the time at all levels of hockey, and it still does not make sense.