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IL • United States • 2014 Years Old • Male
Being "game ready" is more than just being physically fit to play hockey. It's about more than just having honed your body, stick-handling, passing and shooting skills. It also consists of being in the right mindset to play the game of hockey to one's best ability, and being motivated to continue to build upon the foundation that a player has already set for himself. You hear all the time of players being in "mid-season form," a saying that describes a player at his best after he's accrued enough games to get up to speed. But then there are those that are in mid-season form right from the get-go. The 2014-2015 NHL season is still in its infancy, but here's a look at 10 players that are already game ready and in mid-season form: (1.) Gustav Nyquist (Detroit Red Wings): Flashback to one year ago when, despite being NHL ready, Nyquist was sent to the minors as the team's only applicable player that could do so without clearing waivers. He was called up around Thanksgiving and scored 28 goals in just 57 games. Nyquist is leaving no doubt that he's a bonafide NHL-er this year, having scored seven goals through 11 games so far. (2.) Jon Tavares (New York Islanders): Tavares has been a good player on a struggling Islanders team since he broke into the NHL. But the Islanders have surrounded him with talent and acquired Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy before the season's start. He should be even better. (3.) Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins): There are a lot of Crosby haters, but you can't deny his skill level. With his concussion issues in the past (Crosby won the scoring title by 17 points last year), he's bound to pick up right where he left off. (4.) Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning): Stamkos missed a good chunk of the season — and the Olympics — last year due to a broken leg. Now fully healed and following an intense offseason of training, Stamkos should be better than ever. (5.) Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers): Giroux had a messy offseason, which was highlighted by getting arrested for "groping" a police officer. But watch as he uses that as motivation to show people that it's the last thing he should be remembered for. (6.) Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs): There's been a lot of chatter in the Toronto media about how Kessel isn't a good team player and often disagrees with his coaches. Whether it's fact or fiction, you can't deny that Kessel has a nose for the puck — and for putting it in the back of the net. (7.) Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks): Gritty, scoring power forward who has a knack for clutch goals as much as he does for the penalty box. He's off to a slow start this year, but only from a goal-scoring perspective (three). He has 14 points in 13 games and usually is a point-per-game player. (8.) Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh Penguins): Kunitz has always been a scrappy little forward with a nose for the net. But what's really made him stand out over the past few seasons is the center that he plays with: Sidney Crosby. As long as he's playing on the wing with Crosby, Kunitz will be putting up the points. (9.) Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks): Patrick Kane is the best offensive forward on the Blackhawks roster (with due respect to Jonathan Toews, who is better known for his two-way play), but has never seemed to compete for the scoring title yet. But Kane has cleaned up his off-ice antics and is poised for a big year. (10.) Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators): There's not a better offensive defenseman in the game today than Karlsson, who won the scoring title among defenseman by 13 points a year ago. Oh, and he's only 24. You may have noticed some obvious omissions from this list such as Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Alex Ovechkin. Consider this reasoning as to why the aforementioned aren't in game shape yet: Datsyuk and Malkin began the season injured and are still getting up to game speed, while Zetterberg spent half of last season hurt. Also, Ovechkin is off to a sluggish start playing for a new coach. They'll likely be game ready soon, but there's no denying that the 10 on this list are already there. About the author: Nate Puskaric is the Marketing Coordinator for www.prostockhockey.com, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and remains a devoted Blackhawks fan. Nate is passionate about the game and is an expert in hockey gear and equipment.
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