Lake Erie's season came to an end Saturday. Despite a late season charge, the Monsters finished outside the playoffs...again. Even with the game not meaning much, fans showed up and so did the players to put away Grand Rapids 1-0. Of course you could get that info from the box score so I won't go on about that but rather how the players looked at ice level.
The fans who did show up were treated to some positives for the future but also a harsh reality. While the team is full of good players, none of them (outside the goalies) look to have the talent and ability to be much more than complimentary top 6 forwards and bottom pairing Ds at best. Lake Erie is full of players who could be good top 9 players but they all seem to be lacking in an area or two that will hold them back from being a real top 6 forward or top 4 D.
Pickard had a shutout. It's in the box score. What wasn't in the box score were flashes of Roy's confidence. Pickard knew he wasn't going to let much if anything by him. His size and strong positional play made it tough for GR and when they had an open net to look at, Pickard was able to make the last minute save. There was one moment where a save looked amazing but would have looked more standard if Pickard wasn't so slow to pop back up and get over. While he doesn't have the reflexes of Aittokallio, Pickard showed he is an excellent goalie with a confidence that spills over to the team.
A lot of eyes were always on Vincour and Sgarbossa for good reason but the one who should have been watched closely is Paul Carey. He is quietly going about his business in his rookie season. He's not trying anything too fancy and likes to use his speed and aggressive nature to make things happen. What really stands out is how he can go from making a standard play/move and all of a sudden flash the talent he has bottled up. Plenty of times he was noticeable with a slick pass through multiple Griffins, or with a dangerous shot that caught the opponent off guard. Not enough? He plays both PK and PP and does well on both. He'll never be the pure scorer he was prior to college but he's got the right mix to make it as a bottom 6 NHLer with some offense.
Speaking of Vincour, he too goes quietly about his business. He will rarely burn a defender or lay someone out with his size but he knows what his role is. His entire game was focused on getting to the net. He likes to shoot and he's good setting up down low. With someone like Carey and Agozzino on your line, that is exactly how you make a living. He's also a very good PK guy. At one point he decided to hold onto the puck longer, in his own zone, before moving it out. Normally risky to do, Vincour was able to maintain control with his long reach and size and kill off time on GR's powerplay. He did this more than once. Vincour looks like a great complimentary forward for a scoring line or as a solid all around bottom 6 player who somewhat finishes his checks and goes to the net for rebounds, tip ins and the occasional snipe.
sgarbossa had a quiet night. Enough has been said of Sgar that I won't rehash it but he struggled dealing with GR's focus in clogging up the passing and shooting lanes. Couple moments where he looked solid but his speed is a step slow to break through the GR system. He would probably look great playing in a more wide open Eastern style of game but Detroit took away his space and time causing him to struggle. Way too early to know exactly what he may become. Would be interesting to see if he turns into a PA like player in a few years. One thing that stood out despite his offensive struggles was his consistent pest like approach to the game. While Connolly looks to be that Olver like pest, Sgar will lightly hook, slash, nudge you to no end. No puck? Who cares...he probably just cross checked you a little. A lot of teams have been hitting him hard and even boarding him a lot too. Wonder why?
Luke Walker is all speed. If his brain ever caught up to his feet he would be amazing. He scored the only goal of the game on a shot from the left side that the goalie could have stopped but still a good shot. He will never be known as a sniper, heavy hitter or even a skilled player of any sort. What he is is a fast...fast forward who uses his speed well on special teams. Constantly found him able to get around GR's Ds and had a break or two. The Avs should give him another year as he looks like a faster Kobasew.
Agozzino looked good. His speed and ability to make things happen at top speed really help him. His line had some good chances. Maybe the Avs luck out with their version of Conacher (now of Ottawa) but right now it is too early to tell if he's nothing more than an AHL all star. Aggz did look to be centering both the top PP and PK units.
last but not least was Lauridsen. Here is the thing with Lauridsen, watch Barrie then imagine a slower less skilled D doing what Tyson does. Sure the Avs have Shane and occasionally the other Ds trying it but Lauridsen is everywhere sometimes. He has no problem carrying the puck deep into the opponents end. He also has no problem trying to line-up a player for a hit. His big thing is that he plays a high risk game. Something like Jack Johnson back when he came into the NHL. Maybe he tones it down and becomes something like a Wilson but for now the "high risk/high reward" label is stamped hard on Lauridsen. A fun player to watch and one that is at least 2 years from knowing what he may develop into.
There were a few others that either didn't play or didn't stand out. Overall the game was fun and went fast with what seemed many long periods of no whistles. While it was fan appreciation night, you couldn't tell it by anything going on in the stands or anywhere else off the ice. It also didn't help that they named their mascot their number 1 fan. Good thing they gave away the players' jerseys to make up for some of their lack of "fan appreciation".