Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let the games begin

Seth Jones (Portland Winterhawks)
I kind of feel sorry for Team USA as the World Under-20 Championships are about to get under way that it looks like it is "The Seth Jones and Friends Show" instead of Team USA. I am not going to knock anyone for singing the praises of Jones because I am one of those singers too.

There is a part of me that has this nagging feeling that if the NHL season is wiped out that somehow Seth Jones will wind up in a New York Islander uniform. It is one of those feelings like when the NBA draft lottery was first introduced in 1985 that the New York Knicks wound up with Patrick Ewing.

Seth Jones as a member of the New York Brooklyn Islanders would open doors in the USA that the NHL has really never been able to on their own. I have gotten to see some very special players in my lifetime.

This is one of those rare players who actually lives up to the hype that is being said about him. When I watch him skate end to end, I do think of Brian Leetch and Bobby Orr as those 2 redefined how a defenseman played.

The thought of Seth Jones and Griffin Reinhart anchoring the Islander defense is scary because they will change the franchise around for the better. The Rangers may be the more established team but the Islanders would appeal to a younger, a more diverse fan base.

Check this video out and remember that Jones is 6'3 208 and still growing.

The only thing I have not seen Jones do is fight and I think that the other teams in the WHL should be thankful for that. But as a player he does everything with so smooth a motion that it almost looks like it is in slow motion.

It is going to be interesting to see how Canada plays him as they can't afford to give Jones any space to skate. If they do then he will tear them apart with his end to end rushes.

The Rest of Team USA

I can tell you before the game against Finland starts that Brady Skjei is a healthy scratch according to the pre-game notes that were posted on the USA Hockey website.

This is being written as the first period against Finland gets underway (it is 3AM here) and J.T. Miller is wearing the "C" for Team USA. And it is true that Skjei is not playing tonight.

If the whispers are true then it means that Brady Skjei did not make the final roster. And if you are one of those who will take that as a sign of Skjei being a bust then sorry you are in the wrong.

I will be one of the first to say that USA coach Phil Housley is taking a huge gamble going with 2 smallish defenders especially with the size Canada and Russia will bring with their forwards.

And after watching the first period, I think Housley should think very long and hard about keeping Skjei. My case is based on last year's Under-18 squad as well as the USNTDP team as Seth Jones was partnered with Skjei and if you want to get the most out of Jones then pair him with Skjei.

Jones knows if he pinches deep that Skjei will have his back, think Buekeboom covering for Leetch. It will be a big difference maker for the USA blueline.

If Skjei is cut anyway then it will not shake my belief that Brady Skjei is going to become a solid NHLer. Why? Because there is a Ranger defender who was just like him as a freshman and Ryan McDonagh turned out quite well.

If I am the Rangers then I am very unhappy that Miller has two players so small as linemates that even Mats Zuccarello would be calling them "shorty." Man I already know that Canada and Russia will physically mishandle them so I only hope that Housley doesn't wait too long to change those lines.

I would kill though to see how John Tortorella would be reacting. Miller took a lazy penalty in the first which would earn him a spot in the doghouse. But Miller would not be alone as 2 games in the US team is not playing smart and are taking stick fouls.

I do not like the makeup of this team at all as Housley is ignoring previous chemistry like Miller and Ty Biggs, Jones/Skjei. USA will need to defeat Germany and Slovakia to avoid another trip to the relegation round.

Game Action

The QMJHL for whatever reason is playing this weekend and having a very short holiday break. That means Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie Comeau Drakkar were in action against the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.

Noreau had a secondary assist on the Drakkar's first goal of the game which was also the game winner as the Drakkar shut the Saguenéens out 2-0. Noreau was very active in this game with 6 shots and 2 hits.

For Noreau, he is 6-15-21 on the season while his Drakkar find themselves in 7th place in the QMJHL. It looks like the 2nd half is going to be a lot of fun to watch as 2nd and 7th are separated by 3 points.

Loic Leduc (NYI 2012 4th) and his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles played themselves in and out of their game against the Moncton Wildcats. The Screaming Eagles scored 3 times in the 2nd period to take a 3-1 lead but then gave up 2 in the 3rd period and 1 in overtime to lose 4-3.

Leduc had a slashing penalty and a +1 for the evening as the Screaming Eagles are barely holding on to 16th place which is the last playoff spot.


Kmp said...

I like Barkov more than Jones or Mackinnon.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Go right ahead and take Barkov; I will take either Jones or MacKinnon and still wind up with the more talented player.