FanShot

Notes on Couture from Monday's Rookie Skate, Petrecki fools around and gets a Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Petrecki was amazing in his first "pro" game, posting a Gordie Howe hat trick. In addition, Couture was taking some heat from the posters on WTC, so I posted my breakdown of his tournament so far and though I would share here as well: "I’m still surprised at people’s criticism of Couture, especially after these two games. Granted, I only went to Monday’s skate, so I don’t know how he looked last night. But if he played like he did on Monday, fans should be happy. No, he didn’t score a point in either game. I admit, that’s a knock on him playing against inferior competition. However, he did so many impressive things on Monday that you look for from a top prospect. He won almost every single faceoff he took, he saw teammates and made crisp passes, had amazing vision, stripped pucks from any opponent around him, blocked shots, played big minutes on the kill (including playing as the sole forward on a 3-5 disadvantage) and quarterbacked the powerplay. His shot is also improved, and probably would have scored a PP goal if his stick didn’t break on a shot between the circles in the 2nd. Admittedly, the skating does need work. But sometimes I feel like people rehash old scouting reports to knock on a guy even though he’s made significant improvement. His stride is much stronger than it was even last year with Ottawa/Worcester, and he often dragged multiple opponents through the zone with him (drawing penalties in the process). He needs more work skating on the rush, but his footwork was impressive in the offensive zone when the game slowed, often dancing around defenders in limited space. It would be easy to see how good he is if he scored multiple points. But I don’t see how any one who watched him could think that he was disappointing. I expect him to compete strongly for a spot on the roster." [Plank Update 4:22 PM]: Yes, that's Minnesota time. Anyways, here's my take on this, as I mentioned in the comments: I have no idea why everyone is getting up in arms over a player who hasn’t even seen AHL competition yet. It’s always been San Jose’s philosophy that they can teach skating as long as the kid has good hockey sense. That’s how Douglas Murray and Joe Pavelski made the team, and I assume that’s the philosophy with Couture. I also have no idea why everyone is quick to judge him off one or two games, games that most of the people with an opinion didn’t even see. This game occurred against very young competition, with most of these players probably seeing limited NHL time if any. It’s a goddamn rookie game. Let’s not hastily rush to conclusions here, regardless of where you end up (Couture is a bust, Couture is the next number one center etc.) That being said, I’ll trust Max Giese, PJ Swenson, and TCY over Garner every day. There’s a reason I rarely read anything that guy writes. Anyways, if Couture is defined as a playmaker (which every report indicates he is), there could be a reason he didn’t score*. When you’re playing with players for the first time, you’re going to your areas of responsibility and not taking as many chances as you would normally. A defenseman isn’t going to cut backdoor because he doesn’t trust his forward to replace him at the blueline. Forwards aren’t going to be moving as much off the puck because they’re not sure where their linemates are headed. A guy like Couture (just like Pavelski and Thornton) relies on creativity and an awareness of where his teammates are going to be in order to thrive. *I don’t even care about this, but everyone seems to be up in arms about it. As for Couture’s future with the team, I would prefer if he spent the year in Worcester barring a major injury down the middle. There’s no need to a) throw him on a checking line or b) scratch him most nights and deprive him of ice time in Worcester. We already have three bonafide top six centers (Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski), as well as Mitchell who will hold down the third line. You can maybe move Pavs to second line right wing if the injury bug hits like last season and throw Logan there, but now you’ve got two similar guys trying to do the same thing in the offensive zone. Keep him in Worcester this season, let him mature and play against AHL competition for a full season, consider him if the injury bug hits and/or you want to give him NHL ice time for a couple games since he has a two-way, and then re-evaluate the organization’s depth chart next offseason.

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