What about that hey, a second line actually functioning without Naz. Who would have thought THAT? I was really impressed by what i saw against the Islanders. That was arguably the best game from our second all season, without its key cog. You better believe so. Sure they only combined for two points but they CONTROLLED the game. They wore them down. They won it for us.
How We Won
From the second line alone, we had:
– 21 Shot attempts for / 5 Against.
– 9 Shots on goal / 2 Against.
– 3 High danger chances to zeeeeeero.
– 2 Posts.
– 80.77 Combined Corsi.
– Team-high 7 neutral zone faceoffs.
All just in a shade under 10 minutes of even-strength ice time.
Can they sustain such success? Maybe. Can they become the new Mr. Fix It Line?
I have been skeptical of JT being the guy that can be leaned on to truly step up when needed and find an extra gear like some expect him to. Did his good performance against the islanders change that opinion for me? No. But it was refreshing to see another glimpse of what he’s capable of. He has flashes of brilliance from time to time and can look to almost be more than just the depth guy we got in the O’Reilly trade. Sometimes I have to scan the ice to see if he’s dressed (not literally). Then he has games like this that restores my faith in him. Winning important faceoffs, better zone awareness, more shooting confidence and winning stick battles will go along way to see him get on my good side, just like he did for me yesterday.
Big Ol’ Val
Big Nuke is only getting better as the season goes on. This guy was once praised by the god himself, Jaromir Jagr, as a junior “he’ll be one of the best players in the world”, he actually said. It’s been a rocky start but it’s starting to click for him in Colorado. 8 points in his last 10 games, second line minutes and a motor that just doesn’t stop. What’s the secret? Is the Borscht in Denver really that good? Dunno. But keep doing you, Val. Against what is a well-coached Trotz defense, Nichushkin was OUTSTANDING.
The subtle plays behind the net to create separation for his linemates, the offensive zone retention skills and brute strength in transitioning the puck was just simply too much for the Isles’ defense. He had one wrap-around ring off the post and created several dangerous slot chances with some quick reads and even quicker hands. Is it too early to say he’s becoming a go-to-guy? For his confidence, i think a game like this can only see him get better.
The Joonas Brother
As for Joonas, scoring against Varly was somewhat redemption. Not on Varly, but perhaps on his critics. Only 3 points in his last 22 games, it’s not what we paid 3.9m for is it? Agree or with me or not, but it is. Val and Burky have been fantastic on that second “New Guy v2” line and the Calvert/Bellemare duo has been working as efficient as a swiss watchmaker and are the cogs to the best pseudo fourth line in hockey. So where does that leave Joonas? He’s the smart two-way veteran who can fill any role or void. Whether it’s been filling in for Gabe or Mikko, switching between the Compher and the newly crowned “Rolex Line” (by me) or playing a more defensive role in Calvert’s absence, Isn’t that what we’ve missed for all these years? Skilled players, who can just about do it all?
Despite Donskoi being tasked with heavier defensive duties and less time on the sheet as recent, he’s still on pace for his highest point total as a pro. Even though “his game has been off” and as much as “he’s been terrible of late” Joonas is just doing what Jared Bednar needs him to do, and doing it well.
Can the trio keep it up?
We’ll see… we’ll see. That’s all we can do, wait and see. If the Islanders win gives me any indications, it’s a 62.8% yes. Sometimes players just get it with each other and we are gifted with a great brand of hockey. Up next is the Quack Attack, let’s watch what the Nichomphskoi line can produce and re-evaluate.