A lot of people have noticed Koci out on the ice here and there with Duchene. Some people, I think, have interpreted this as a demotion for Duchene. However, I think something else is going on here. I think Sacco is just getting them out there together once in a while to let the other team know that he is tired of people running Duchene. He has taken some pretty big hits so far this season and despite the snickering in town about Koci’s willingness to fight, let alone his ability win, he is the only legitimate heavy weight that the team has. And you work with what you’ve got. McLeod was out for a while with that eye injury and then playing with a face shield for a month (but still had two fights). I think his absence hurt Duchene’s game.
Duchene is a young, skill guy and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for Sacco to be concerned about the opponent taking runs at him. He is having a tough start to the season and he could use a little more room on the ice. I think Sacco has the right idea and tonight Chris Stewart was added to the formula and I think it was very successful. Stewie is a guy that can do more than fight; he is a significantly better skater, passer and scorer than Koci. Obvious, I know. But he is also a pretty tough guy that could be out there making plays and making space at the same time, unlike Koci who only makes space. Or takes up space, depending on who you consult.
That’s what McLeod was doing for Duchene early in the season when he was getting SO many good chances to score. But Sacco needs to give Stewie the job for good. Duchene is a little too subtle of a player for McLeod’s crashing style. Where as Stewie gives Duchene a little more to work with. So maybe Sacco HAS given Stewie the job but he isn’t always responding? I don’t know but I know that Duchene needs people on his line that can read plays and make and receive passes for scoring chances.
Right now this team is hurting more than ever for those players. Stewie has been on and off Duchene’s line, and the recent injuries make the juggling even more difficult for Sacco but I think Stewie could excel in this role. Remember earlier in the season when McLeod was skating with Duchene quite a bit? Duchene was getting more room on the ice and therefore more chances. Right now Stewie is hitting the enemy like he’d hit his little sister. In the recent game against the Wild I saw him line guys up for perfect hits only to end up bumping them and he only had one hit tonight. Doesn’t seem like his style, so either the coaching staff has him on a leash or he has just lost his game.
So I don’t really think that Duchene needs a McSorley but I do think the kid needs the space out there that a tough guy will give him.
-From the Point