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Observations From A Non-Observer


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I wasn't able to see or hear the games this weekend, so my take on the weekend comes from press and internet reports.

Obviously the PP is a problem, so I know I'm not breaking a hot story here, but this view of things is pretty stark. This is how UND's and its opponents' scoring breaks down this year (UND's scoring listed first):

5x3 0-0 (When UND has the 5X3 advantage, neither team has scored.)

5x4 0-2

5x5 8-2

4x4 2-0

4x5 0-3

3x5 0-1

Even strength, UND looks great. Outscoring good opponents 10-2 is very impressive. The PK results have been OK, as well, allowing 4 goals in 22 chances (18%). That's not great, but the opponents have been good.

Even though UND seems, to me, to perennially struggle on the PP, I think this team just has too much talent to not be at least decent on the PP. When this element of their game comes around, this team will be hard for most teams to handle. They are 0-20 so far, so at least it can't get worse.

I love what it means for the team to receive improved play from guys like Fylling and Genoway. When you consider that Parise, Murray, Lundbohm and Massen (four forwards that I considered among the top six on the team heading into the season) have hardly contributed on the scoreboard yet, and then realize that they probably will still have a major impact, depth at forward looks to be shaping up nicely.

I've read a few accounts of a BC player taking Schneider's skates out from under him while heading into the boards. Anybody remember what Ian Kidd did when Skeeter Moore did the same thing, endangering Kidd's career? (Answer: He got up, completely ignoring play, and chased after Moore. He tried to take a tee shot at Moore's ankles, missed, then delivered a cross-check from behind that had the stretcher out. It was nasty, but also a kind of frontier justice for about as dangerous a play as you can make out there.)

Anybody wondering whether there were some recruits in the stands for the Friday night game? That's the kind of environment you hope for when you bring kids in for a visit.

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Admittedly, Lundbohm and Murray have had slow starts. But Murray DOES have an assist to his name if not two. Parise has a goal and two assists.

As for Massen, I think his role has changed since last year and I think it is taking him a bit to adjust. In fact, I see his role to be similar to Stafford's, but Stafford is obvious far more adept at it than Massen is.

That's my opinion. Also, my opinion is: Murray needs to score to make the believers believe, but I watch his play and I am impressed with it so far. I like his aggressive attitude on the ice. I love the fact that he doesn't let his size limit him to who he takes on. And he is FAST! He makes mistakes, but that's to be expected for a freshman. No one is Jeff Panzer his freshman year :D

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I saw 2/3rds of Friday's game. Everything else on the games I got electronically.

My thoughts:

PP sucks. How can it actually get worse than it has been?

Hearing we lost 2-1 to BC didn't bother me too much? Why? Only gave up 2 goals. Not bad at all....

Concered we didn't get a lot of shots on net this weekend.

Stafford looks like a veteran out there. Wow.

Give Murray time. How many freshmen come right in a rip the place up?

Genoway still getting points. Keep it up!!!!!!!

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I wasn't too worried about the low SOG, because they were low for both teams and I'm sure BC is used to outshooting its opponents too.

Re: Murray, I just think he should shoot more. It seems like he's always going for the perfect pass, so when he's racing toward the net with the puck, he'll suddenly put on the brakes and look to pass when sometimes it seems like he should just take the shot and hope for a good rebound if not a goal.

I don't even want to talk about the PP. It was frustrating to watch.

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Re: Murray, I just think he should shoot more. It seems like he's always going for the perfect pass, so when he's racing toward the net with the puck, he'll suddenly put on the brakes and look to pass when sometimes it seems like he should just take the shot and hope for a good rebound if not a goal.

I noticed this too. There were a few times where he'd have a 2-1 with Boche and try to make the pass across when he should have shot. The BC defensmen played the odd man rushes very well, taking the guy without the puck instead of the puck carrier. Murray just needs to be a little more selfish in those situations. He may trying to avoid a "puckhog" reputation right now...I think he'll come around.

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I think you are right, but I also think he's aiming big at the same time.

It may be true that he seems to be avoiding his first goal, but I think it appears as though he really sees this as a team effort and avoids being selfish. He's always focusing on getting opponents off the puck handler and not getting into scoring position. This is good and bad. Good because, if this is happening in our own zone or in the neutral zone, it could start something. Bad is that if it happens in the opponent's zone, then who's going for the rebounds?

I really think Bo is a flat out goal scorer whereas Parise has evolved into a playmaker and playdeveloper among the first line forwards. I really think Murray should be like Ciccarelli: Physical and ALWAYS crashing the net.

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In reply to Murray...

I think Murray has some amazing speed, vision, and skating ability. He's low to the ground which helps him change direction VERY quickly. He is very good defensively because of his speed and I saw him create a lot of turnovers. He makes some typical freshman mistakes, but I think the main thing is that he is adjusting from the BCHL to the WCHA. He's trying moves that he could probably get away with against BCHL defensmen, but when it comes to teams like Duluth, and Boston College, he isn't going to get very far with them. He needs to use his speed to create shots for himself, as I don't know if I've even seen him take a single shot on goal. Everyone can tell that he has all the tools, it will just take some time to get going.

Now Stafford on the other hand... what can you say about this kid... He is consistantly one of the best players on the ice for the Sioux. His strength reminds me of Prpichs, but he has hands more like Bochenski. HE's ONLY 17!!!! My god, he looks like a junior or senior the way he plays. This kid could have a 40-50 point season. Stafford is something special folks, you don't see players like this come around very often, and any NHL team would be stupid not to pick him up in the first round. He is going to develop into one hell of a hockey player.

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Stafford: Rumors place him going in the first round. Initially I heard that he'd go in the top 15, but I'm not so sure. Yeah, he's good, but I've always seen hype surrounding prospective high picks such as that and there doesn't really seem to be as much hype surrounding Stafford.

In fact, before the season started, we were all talk about Murray.

I'm not going to be naive. I'd say he goes middle first round to very very early second round. My pick at who chooses him: New Jersey or Detroit. Yeah, I'll be forward in saying that. I say Detroit because they DESPERATELY need a young power forward. Drew would fit the bill. That's where I sit at this point.

The pipeline goes like this: SSM -- UND -- NJD :D

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If he continues to progress at the rate he has over the last year, I would think the risk of his opting in to the 2004 draft is reasonably high. The NHL loves size. Zach slid on draft day because of size, and they'll be drooling over Stafford for the same reason. Hopefully he has a great year this year and decides that another year to mature physically is in order before taking the big leap.

Of course there may not be a 2004 draft.

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