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My trip to Lowell - Player Analysis from the Farm

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DevRickus    0

Well I know I had mentioned something about this a few months ago but every year my father and I take a trip up to Lowell to catch a game. I just returned home from this years trip. The Lowell Devils beat the Worcester Sharks last night 6-4. Rod Pelley recorded the Hat Trick while Barry Tallackson added an assist on each one of Pelley's trio of goals. Jeff Frazee stopped 36 out of 40 shots for the win. With that said, I am going to go through a few players that really made an impression on me last night. The best player on the ice for both teams is someone you might not expect.

The first player that really jumped out at me, which should be no surprise, was Nicklas Bergfors. His skill set seemed to be a level above everyone else. Though he only recorded 2 assists in the game he was creating opportunities the entire game and showed me something I really havent seen from him yet. A tireless work ethic on the ice. Regardless of which end of the ice he was in, he was like a bulldog with and without the puck. Just constantly fighting his way to the net and shooting from everywhere. I was a little on the fence about him because of his inability to crack the Devils lineup but after watching him last night, I have no doubt he has what it takes to make it in the NHL. I just hope in will be with the Devils some day.

The next player I would like to talk a little about is Alexander Vasyunov. He is a player that had some high expectations coming over from Russia and alot of us hadnt hear much about. What really impressed me about him was his nose for the puck and his smarts away from the puck. He only had 1 assist last night but had a lot of scoring opportunities. He made some very nice passes and something that is extremely important when trying to get into the Devils lineup, he was excellent in his own zone. He never lost a check and let his man get to the net. His positioning was excellent and he always made the SMART play to get the puck out of the zone. Like I said earlier, I didnt know much about him coming in to the game and have never seen him play, but I was thoroughly impressed.

Matthew Corrente is a guy I have been extremely high on since last season. He doesnt do anything flashy on the ice but man is he like a rock back in his own end. He always makes the smart play. Never gets himself out of position and is always willing to take the body. He was paired up with Mark Fraser which suprised me a bit becauuse both play a similar shutdown style, but they are certainly the definition of a shutdown D pairing. He recorded an assist in the game and was a +4. He played in both PP and SH situations and on the Powerplay, he was very smart with the puck on the blueline and has an absolute cannon of a slapshot. I know the organization is high on this guy and I certainly can see why.

Another player that really impressed was Patrick Davis. Lowell went down pretty quickly 1-0. About 8 minutes after giving up the first goal of the game, Patrick Davis and Nicklas Bergfors came into the zone 2-2. Bergfors drove the net and it looked like Davis was just going to take a wrist shot. Instead he toe-dragged the puck around the sliding defensemen and put a nasty move on the goaltender and roofed the backhander in to the top of the net. You could hear a collective oooooh from the crowd when he made the move. Later on in the game, he went 1-2 and made a move that I still cant describe in words. It was a sort of inside outside move and got around both players only to have the puck poke checked by the goalie. The 1 gripe I have about him is that he is always looking for the perfect shot instead of just taking the shot. He was fed a puck from behind the net wide open to the slot and instead of just ripping it, he stopped it and hesitated and the puck ended up getting knocked away from behind. Aside from that play, I really like his game. He is a big kid and has excellent hands and above average speed. He is one to watch in the future as well.

I cant continue any further without mentioning Rod Pelley. He, like I stated above, had a Hat Trick in the game and was just flying out there. His first goal came on a 2-1 after he came out of the penalty box. Tallackson took the shot and Pelley cashed in the rebound. 3 minutes after that goal, he circled the zone and was fed a brilliant pass by Tyler Ekford (I will get to him later) and walked right around the defenseman and went forehand-backand top shelf from a poor angle and beat Greiss topshelf. It was a thing of beauty. For the 3rd goal he was fed a behind the back pass from Tallackson where he stashed it in the yawning net. I was kind of down on Pelley after last season, just thinking of him as a John Madden clone, but he definitely has some offensive upside and whenever John Madden moves along, Pelley can slide right in to his position.

The much maligned Jeff Frazee is the next player up. The guy was simply amazing last night. I know giving up 4 goals doesnt exactly conjure up an image of an amazing performance but out of the 4 goals he had a chance to stop 1 of them and that was the first goal on the game. The rest of the goals came on deflections off stick and bodies from the point. He made 36 saves and out of the 36 saves I would say that 75-80 % were high quality scoring chances. His rebound control was outstanding. The one thing he needs to work on is his puck handling skills. To say they are poor would be an understatement. I can see him being Marty's backup in the very near future.

And last but certainly not least, the guy who impressed me by far the most was.....Tyler Ekford. Where do I begin?? How about he truly reminds me of a young Scott Niedermayer. He is always thinking offense but not at the expense of his responsibilities in the defensive zone. His hockey smarts are second to none. He knows when to pinch and when not to and his excellent pinch lead to Rod Pelleys 2nd goal where he pinched and made and outstanding saucer pass right on the tape to a streaking Pelley. He is an effortless skater just like Niedermayer. He has excellent position in his own zone and is not afraid to join in to the attack. He is the type of player the Devils are sorely missing. He is confident with the puck on the blueline on the Power Play as well. All game long I was just gushing about the type of game he was playing to the point where my father told me to shut up..lol. I had never seen Ekford play before but had heard good things about him from his college days. In my mind, he will 100% be a Devil in the very near future.

As for the rest of the team, they played very well. Honorable mention to Matt Halischuk. I know he is just getting in to form after missing a while with the knee injury and he showed signs and flashes of brilliance but you could tell his stamina isnt where it needs to be yet. However late in the 3rd period he got caught out on the ice for a long shift and the Lowell Devils were only winning by 1 goal at the time. His effort and determination were put on display for everyone to see. He hustled his ass off while the Sharks were on a 3-2. The puck got fed back to the trailing player who basically was 1-1 with Frazee. Halischuk never stopped skating and caught the player from behind and took the puck away and got it out of the zone. It's those types of plays that management looks for when evaluating talent.

That's all I have. I wish I could have taken pictures but I didnt realize I forgot my camera in the car until I got to my seat and it was freezing out and we had to park in east bumblefudge so I was not about to go get the camera. On a side note, this was the 4th time I had been to game in Lowell and this was by far the best and loudest crowd I can remember. If you have any questions about anyone in particular let me know.

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Birch    0

Thanks for sharing! You saw a pretty entertaining game. The coach was talking about Frazee in the pregame last night. Called Frazee a "nice surprise" and the "real deal" whose play always gives Lowell the oppurtunity to win.

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vadvlfan    35

Great recap. We never get an opportunity to see hte farm team. Good to hear you feel Eckford looked really good out there. This team is really turning it around from the goaltending out. I'll get an opportunity to see them when they come to Norfolk (Va.) in March. Again good read, thanks.

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