Friday, September 27, 2013
Conacher Makes It Easy For Coach MacLean
Okay, I was wrong about Cory Conacher. This guy isn’t going anywhere soon.
I was convinced Mike Hoffman was destined to be on that second line going into the pre-season with all that speed and those flashes of NHL ability he showed last season before going on the shelf. Yet all he’s done this month is pretty much disappear and I’m not sure of the reason, whether it was not impressing early on in camp practices or not coming out of the gate strong in his first pre-season game on September 16. Whatever it was, Hoffman didn’t see another game until last night, a stretch of 10 days in which Conacher likely sewed up the job next to Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur.
Just look at Conacher’s last three pre-season games. 3 goals, 4 points, 10 shots on goal and he’s probably smelled more gloves from pissed off defenseman than any other Senator as he crashed the net every shift.
There’s no competition here right now for that spot. It’s Conacher’s. Hoffman had 3 shots on goal in his two games but hasn’t stood out. Mark Stone looked better than Hoffman but he still doesn’t seem like an NHL player. The gargantuan Buddy Robinson stood out early with two goals in two games but has started to fade. When the pace started to pick-up, it was Conacher, the guy with the most NHL experience, who kept pace.
And this guy is entertaining to watch too. You see scuffles at the net and eventually this little guy comes out of the middle with his helmet on sideways and his shoulder pads hanging out of his jersey. He’s fearless along the boards, behind the net and obviously has a way of getting goals standing right outside the crease. I’m not sure there’s going to be many laser beams from above the faceoff circles but Conacher doesn’t seem to mind going up against huge defensemen down low anyways. He’s going to get his head kicked in scoring 75% of his goals.
An 82 game schedule is going to be hard on him, as it was last season when he faded with Ottawa after tearing it up early with Tampa, but he’s probably learned a lot from that.
Pencil him in. Throw away the pencil.