NFC East 2013: Key Players

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The difference between being the best and the worst team in the NFC East these days is razor thin. I decided to make a list of players each team could least afford to lose, some obvious, some not. A change of tone today. I’m writing from the fan point of view.

Philadelphia: RB LeSean McCoy. If there’s one thing us Giant fans know about the Eagles is that we can’t beat them. The biggest reason for that is because McCoy runs wild against us. In his eight career games vs the Giants, Shady has averaged 5.5 YPC. With no set plans at QB under new coach Chip Kelly, the running game is going have to carry the offense until either Michael Vick can re-establish himself or Matt Barkley shows he’s ready.

Dallas: WR Dez Bryant. The Cowboys are just the opposite of Philly in that their backfield is a mess and they need to throw the ball. TE Jason Witten has been so good, he’s become like part of landscape. He is their most valuable player without saying.  But in order for Dallas to insert themselves into the playoff conversation, Bryant has to continue on his path to maturity and productivity. When focused, Bryant is one of the league’s most explosive players. In six games vs the Giants, Bryant has scored five TDs and averaged over 20 yards per catch.

Washington: QB Kirk Cousins. When the Skins drafted him right after they took RGIII, they tipped their hand on what they thought of Griffin’s chances to stay healthy. So far, they’ve been right. Cousins could be a potential starter on many teams in this league, and if RGIII continues to leave the pocket with such frequency, Cousins will be called on to keep the Skins on track. His presence will allow Griffin and the Shanahans to keep on taking risks, and a team that is undaunted like that is tough to keep up with.

New York: DE Jason Pierre-Paul. You saw what the Giant defense looked like last year with a disabled JPP, imagine what we’ll look like without him. That’s a distinct possibility, at least for the beginning of the season. It is still unknown how he will respond and rebound from the back surgery he had last month. The team is optimistic, but in researching the injury and it’s effects, it’s a stretch to think JPP can return to 2011 form. Unfortunately for us, we need him to. If he doesn’t, well…you can use your imagination on this one.




205 comments
Logan Monstuart
Logan Monstuart

Tomorrow night we should see whether Evander Kane might be the missing piece. Because hard as it is to believe, the Isles now are only a few players away from being a contender. Every team needs two dangerous lines, one very good line, and one pretty good line. The Isles are a left wing away from that. Grabovksi does for the Isles what Carter did for the Kings -- makes the line he's on dangerous.

And thought Lee looked better than I remember him. He could be a fixture after all -- though would still include him in a trade if it got the job done.

csd21
csd21

According to Staple it looks like the Bailey's injury is not as bad as they initially though, so he is going on the road trip.  I would just wait till he gets back before making more moves.  As much as I dislike conacher on the first line, I would not dismantle the other lines just to get JT and KO scoring 5 on 5, especially since scoring is not our problem.

I think the Franz/Grabo/Kulemin is a great 2 way line that we are going to need to keep other teams off the board.  Against Dallas their great defense lead to fast break offense that won the game for the Islanders.  A line that can defend against the other teams top lines and score on them is priceless in the NHL.


Now the question is when Bailey returns do you place him on the top line or insert him in Kulemin's spot?  If the Franz/Grabo/Kulemin line is still having a lot of success, then I would place him on the top line and see what happens.  He wasn't playing that bad before he got hurt, and he can't be worse than conacher.

finnmaccul
finnmaccul

BTW Pulock and Reinhart both scored for the ST Saturday night.

finnmaccul
finnmaccul

@redly  I agree that Lee isn't the answer for defence on the 1st line, but the opposing D would have to put someone right on Lee giving JT and  Okposo more freedom.  I'm happy with Lee with Nelson and Strome, I just don't see that they're so defensively weak that we need to diminish their ice time to less than the 4th line.  Do you see Grabner with JT/KO?  Plenty of speed on attack (but no hands), and he can get back quickly.  


I'm no fan of Krieder, but this hub bub about him lumbering Markov between the legs is BS.  Watch the video Markow is holding the stick attempting to draw a penalty.

redly
redly

Frans 3rd Star of the week!

bosstrots1
bosstrots1

That first line needs Kulemin. JT and KO need someone with a big shot who is hard to play against to get them a bit more space and time + they literally need him to play defense for them. coancher will be better on the third line with franz and grabbo as they can skate at more his speed until grabner comes back and makes coancher expendable. Let the kid line play for now, i wouldn't move Lee up to the top line bc they need a skater who can back check and that is not Lee's game. I hope cappy is smaht and this is what he does. I love JT but there is a reason why he is the 4th line center on Team Canada, its clear that he needs a little bit of help if that is going to be a true No.1 line. Before anyone bashes me, do the math, i love JT but that first line as presently constructed doesn't score any even strength goals and i'm sure their possession and turnover numbers are not that great either.

finnmaccul
finnmaccul

I watched the Ho-sang "Freddie" shake after his awesome end to end goal rush.  It wasn't what I like to see, but for Pete's sake it wasn't that bad.  Let's not look for trouble.


BTW the Lee-Nelson-Strome didn't appear to play much in the 3rd, but Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck seemed to be on a lot.  5 on 5 time: Lee 8:10, Nelson 11:30, Strome 10:07 vs. Martin 11:40, Cizikas 12:34, Clutterbuck 11:22.   I know a lot of posters express concern about the 2nd line's defense, but Lee +1, Nelson +3, Strome +1 vs Martin -1, Cizikas -1, Clutterbuck even.  I don't get it.

David Di Gesu
David Di Gesu

Tomorrow's game against the Jets is very important and we need a WIN! The Ducks are the next Kings, and we play both of them on the road trip, don't forget the Sharks again. The first 20 minutes will tell if the Islanders are up for tmw's game.

elephant
elephant

Kings just capped off a 6-game home stand, going 6-0-0.  The game on 11/6 should be very interesting.  The Kings are beasts.

hoverlow
hoverlow

Side note to all of this... anyone else see Josh Ho-Sang's post goal celebration.  I caught a glimpse on the NHL section of CBSSports.. http://t.co/3b6UxmEsYN   He certainly isn't doing anything to change the impression people have of him..  I know there are some people who will sand up for him on here, but come on.. He's a punk who will be a problem..

John Niemczyk
John Niemczyk

you guys would have been against Mike Bossy , he wasn't that great a defensive player too...

mrcisback
mrcisback

 All this talk about Anders Lee not being a good defensive player is the reason why he shouldn't be up with the Islanders is pretty funny. Is John Tavares a good defensive player no. Is Kyle Okposo a good defensive player no. 75% of the Islander players are bad defensively also. As a matter of fact probably half of the forwards in the league are not that good defensively.  If Anders Lee can score 25 goals and give me 40-50 points i'll live with his defense. Until the Islanders hire a defensive minded coach nothing will change. Right now there winning with offense not defense.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller

@Logan Monstuart 100% agree. Kane could be the missing piece. Be a real nice farewell for the fans, going out with a Cup. Lee is a monster, given time he's going to morph into a serious power forward.

bosstrots1
bosstrots1

@csd21  I agree with what you have to say.  Conacher's gotsta go though.  I like your logic on Kulemin but we need him on the first line to keep the puck out of our net as much as we need him to help with offense.  Barring a trade which is not happening, either Kulemin or Josh Bailey has to go up to that top line to play the Left Wing Lock for us. If Bailey is not too injured, he has the shot (when he uses it) and the passing and D skillz to do what we need him to do,  KO, JT and Bailey had some success as a line in 2012 so maybe that is a solution for us but Kulemin has played very well when he was moved up to the top line a few games ago and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back there...the Corsi number show very clearly that Conacher is not up to the challenge and that JT and KO suffer when Conacher is out there with him.  There is a reason why Conacher is on his third team in less than a year, he cant shoot worth a lick, has no stick-handling ability and even less on ice vision...4th liner at best...good AHL player though.  

since72
since72

I like Kulemin up on line 1 myself, but as another poster stated, you don't want to weaken the 2nd or 3rd lines right now as they are all scoring.  Once Bailey comes back, I might move Kule up to the 1st and sit Conacher.  For right now, the team is winning so let's not mess with it. 

slapshot18_rs
slapshot18_rs

@finnmaccul it is an extreme over reaction to ho sangs celebration.  anisimovs a couple of seasons ago, playing in the NHL, was wayyy worse. that is the type of celebration i was expecitng to see when people were making a big deal over this. 

John Falcone
John Falcone

@David Di Gesu we're going to need wins against the Jets and Avalanche; after that it's going to be tough getting wins on the road against top teams in the west

shlo
shlo

@hoverlow No way he is a punk. He will not be a problem. He is a kid. A talented kid who many scouts did not like because he did not follow the" mold" of what they perceive a hockey player should be so  he  slipped in the draft.

He took offense to it and was outspoken about it. He has the right attitude and desire.

He is out there to prove them wrong and he will. He will be great for us.


How can you not love a confident player who said; If I were a GM I would have picked me first overall?  I love it.

Give him 3 or 4 years, get some experience,  mature a bit and you'll have a great player who want nothing but to prove all the GMs wrong and do his best for the organization that believed in him.

elephant
elephant

@hoverlow Who cares!  At the end of the day, hockey is a game... a sport, and he should be allowed to enjoy his sick goal.  Yeah, he's not the classiest player, but it looks like Ho-Sang will be creating a lot more problems for opposing teams than his own.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@hover- yeah, we had a chat. The isles don't run his junior team, so they can't do nothing.

The owner of his junior team, and the coach haven't cracked down, so what is to be done.

In his defense, maybe he is taking grief every game, and this how he gives it back.

" You keep talking at me, I will keep scoring".

If the coach of has a problem, I'm certain Canadian media will give it much attention. They had no problem calling him a problem child and killing his draft status- much to the Isles advantage.

I don't defend his behavior, but his coach and the team owner ain't complaining.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@john- I didn't realize Anders Lee was Mike Bossy.

You realize Lee was a sixth rd pick and is older the JT ?

How many goals did Bossy have when he was the same age as Anders Lee?

Not the worst comparison ever, but your in the running.

mrcisback
mrcisback

@John Niemczyk Mike Bossy was the greatest right wing to play in the NHL in my opinion. Who cared if he didn't play defense. Thats what defenseman get paid to do.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc- Did you just put JT and Anders Lee in the same sentence concerning offensive ability?

Not really a good idea.

Anders Lee brings offense to a team leading the league in scoring. Why not let him learn how to play a full 200 ft game, and then there is no trade off between what he brings on offense, vs what he costs you on defense.

His offense is all upside, with no downside.

That is why player development is important.

csd21
csd21

@bosstrots1 @csd21 Cappy put himself in this position, but it is still a tough call as a coach since they have been winning. Its hard for fans to watch the top line suffer 5/5 when you know they should be dominating (it is even harder when JT is on your fantasy team), but it is easier for Cappy to justify it since they keep winning.  Though it seems that he is aware it has to change, but I think it wont until Bailey or Grabs is back or until the team gets shutout.  Though my fantasy team hopes he does it sooner than later.

shlo
shlo

@since72 It's worth a shot, as much as I liked him with Franz & grabo

ghostfritz
ghostfritz

@slapshot18_rs @finnmaccul 

ya think ??? this ia one from the theres nothing to really complain about in islanders country so lets make something a problem files....ooohhh did ho sang wiggle his shoulders and hurt some feelings...boo hoo hoo

doc942
doc942

@John Falcone @David Di Gesu Buffalo just went into San Jose and beat them.  They are not unbeatable.  They lost at home to Columbus as well.  I think the Islanders can win more than just the Jets and Avalanche games over the next 2 weeks.

slapshot18_rs
slapshot18_rs

@shlo its funny that ho sang is a problem but we need to immediately trade for evander kane who has that reputation as well. (id take both of them for the record)


to look at THAT goal celebration and be worried hes a problem is soo silly to me.   not worried about him at all, and love his confidence. 

Don22
Don22

@elephant @hoverlow To me, there is a fine line between excited and calculated.  It seems he likes to do his celebrations when passing by the opponents bench.  I don't mind guys celebrating goals.  But when you seem to try and rub it in to the other team, that can be an issue.  Like it or not, there are guys that will take exception to it and either run him - or run a team mate.

I agree with RM.  There's nothing the team can do about it until he gets to the AHL team.  I am sure that either when he gets to the AHL, or eventually the NHL - he will start to understand why it's not a good idea.  I think a few more years under his belt and being able to play with and against stars like JT and the like will give him a different perspective.  I think his favorite player might be Patrick Kane.  Hearing guys like Kane or JT tell him to knock it off will be a lot more effective than his Juniors coach.


I truly feel he will tone it down a little once he reaches pro hockey.  I just hope he does it before he gets himself or someone else hurt.


Either way, classy or not - we should be excited to have this guy as a prospect.  In a few years he could be a big part of this team.

Don22
Don22

@rmbbanned You are taking his comment more literal than he means it to be.  Of course he's not comparing Lee to Bossy.  He is just making a point that there are guys here that would knock Bossy too if they could.  It's like saying they would knock the Pope if they had the chance.  That's not exactly a comparison - rather emphasis of a point.  

mrcisback
mrcisback

@rmbbanned I really have to laugh with some of your comments. I'd love to know how long you been watching hockey. Learn to play defense where? Bridgeport has been terrible for several years. Theres 2 ways the Islander players and or prospects will learn how to play defense. 1- There traded to an organization that stresses defense first. 2- The Islanders hire a good defensive minded coach and bench coaches. And i wasn't comparing Lee to JT and Okposo. I just mentioned that there defense is suspect to.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@don- nah, I wasn't really. I was playing with my food.

I was enjoying somebody else thinking the highest scoring team in the NHL needs more scoring at the cost of weaking goal prevention. As if the NHL is like a video game, and when your down a goal you can just pop one in.

If there is one thing to IGNORE in the NHL, it is how strong 3 of the final 4 playoff teams were at goal prevention last season. Or maybe how a high scoring team like the Pens have failed to do real well in the playoffs. (Sarcasm font off).

Cappy seems to be shortening the bench at the very end of close games. It looks like Cappy rolls the fourth line, the third line with 2 centers in Frans and Grabbo, and a modified first line with 2 centers in KO, JT and Brock.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc-

So your saying Pulock and Reinhart are doomed because they are playing at Bridgeport?

Where did guys like Hamonic and de Haan learn to play defense?

So, you still laughing?

When your saying you can suffer the defensive short comings of Anders Lee, and put JT and KO in the same sentence, yes your are comparing them.

mrcisback
mrcisback

@rmbbanned Is it possible that Reinhart was good defensive player from his minor league organization. Pulock i think was picked for his offense and physical play. I'm pretty sure Hamonick would be a #3 or #4 defenseman on most of the teams in the NHL

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc- Pronman, the guru of hockey prospects, did a list of the best 25 players in the NHL under 25.

Hamonic was ranked #25. Reinhart was perhaps the best defensive player in Canadian a major juniors last year.

EVERY GM IN THE NHL WANTS REINHART.

Not some of them, all of them. He is a stud-cat concerning shutdown blue line defender.

Pulock has a howitzer shot. Perhaps a perfect NHL tandem for the blue line, and they are all ours.

redly
redly

@mrcisback @rmbbanned Travis is more respected around the NHL then you think or he would not of got the tryout for Team Canada for the Olympics

mrcisback
mrcisback

@rmbbanned Where did i say Reinhart wasn't a good defensive player. If it was up to me Reinhart would be have been on the Islanders defense last year. I just wondered if the Islanders were losing a little confidence in him.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc- your exact comment

" I'd love to know how long you been watching hockey. Learn to play defense where? Bridgeport has been terrible for several years. Theres 2 ways the Islander players and or prospects will learn how to play defense. 1- There traded to an organization that stresses defense first. 2- The Islanders hire a good defensive minded coach and bench coaches"..

My response was " so you think Reinhart and Pulock are doomed because they are at B-Port. And where did de Haan and Hamonic learn to play defense."

For some reason, your opinion is B-Port not having a good record means they can develop defensive talent.

Can I also point to Nelson, Strome and Lee..

redly
redly

@mrcisback @rmbbanned people need to realize about 1% of players are ready to play or do play straight out of the draft

mrcisback
mrcisback

@redly @mrcisback @rmbbanned Red just to let you know that many players picked in the 2012 NHL entry draft Griffen Reinharts draft are already playing for there NHL clubs. For example 3 defenseman picked after Reinhart are playing.#5 Moran Rielly has played 81 games with Toronto already. #9 Jacob Trouba had a great rookie year with Winnipeg last year. #22 Olli Maatta picked by the Penguins is already a star. Gotta run good conversation.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc- on draft prospects making the NHL first as a standard of excellence.

Josh Bailey was the first guy to make the NHL from his class.

redly
redly

@mrcisback and remember those guys 4 years from now & see whos the stud & whos the dud

mrcisback
mrcisback

@rmbbanned Actually #1- Steven Stamkos, #2-Drew Doughty and Zack Bogosian just to mension a few made the respective clubs the same year they were drafted. Gotta run.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@mrc- yep. I read that column, that why I referenced it. Hamonic is #25..