Sunday, November 1, 2015

Yakupov just doesn't understand what it takes to win.

Consistency and a willingness to assert ones self on the ice even when it hurts.  Too often Yakupov watches other people do the dirty work along the boards instead of getting his hands dirty.  McDavid a kid is more willing to go to the dirty areas than Yak who spends way too much time waiting for a perfect pass.  The reason you take the body is because it should create a little separation between player and puck.  At the very least the defence will rush the play and upon occasion turn it over like we do.  The whole waving your stick at it the puck like Yak likes to do makes him just another soft, unwilling to pay the physical price of winning player.  I would make it clear to Yak that if he wants to stay on that McDavid line he needs to get 3 hits a game.  Right now with the Draisaitl player will with Hall and RNH, when Eberle comes back if Yakupov doesn't get a hell of a lot better than welcome to the dreaded 3rd line. The thing is Yak is good at it hitting.  Strong, low centre of gravity and not a risk of getting a head shot to anyone as his vertical sucks.    He seems like someone you have to work hard to convince him to do it.

Every time you go up a level in any sport you have to reinvent yourself because there is a higher quality of player.  In the NHL you need straight ahead speed to enter the zone and back the defence off.  The hope was Yakupov would be like Bure but his straight ahead speed has never been as good as the Russian Rocket.  In close spaces he is quick just not straight ahead which is why he sucks at entering the offensive zone.  His tendency to go horizontal not only causes him to turn the puck over more often but also increases the chances of his teammates going off-side.  Teams know this, take away the McDavid outlet which usually gets you a few turnovers as guys are looking for him too much.  Yakupov will get at least one or two offsides a game with his inability to enter the zone at speed.  The dump and chase only works if you have guys willing to be physical which Yak could be if he stopped wanting to play pretty hockey and added a little Putin to his game.

I think it would help Yakupov's game if he added the pest element to his game.  He is the type of player you almost don't want to hit if you are the opposing team because it gets him involved physically.  For him to be a successful NHL player anywhere near his draft status he needs to become assertive, initiate contact consistently and be a mean SOB to play against.  A pest role would put him in the state of mind I believe he needs to be in to be an effective NHL player.

Winning and losing is about paying the price.  There is no magic formula to maximizing your skills.  It is just hard work, blood, sweat, tears and most of all want.  People talk about heart as this abstract thing even though it is very tangible.  Heart is really about playing a sport with such desperation that you do so with little regard to the pain of your own body.  Even if you are bruised all over, playing back to back and everything hurts you take the body because the need to win is greater than the pain you feel when you hit someone with your bruised shoulder.  When I look at the Oiler first overall draft picks I see four young men at different stages in the process of learning there is a price that has to be paid if they want to win consistently.  Winning hurts, there are no short cuts, pretty hockey is for junior, this is the NHL and if you want to succeed you have to leave it on the ice.

RNH needs to shoot the puck more.  Guy has a wicked shot.

Hall needs to fight Jamie Benn.

Graham Iceman
rabid Oilers fan

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