It has taken two years but the Avalanche and its fans finally got to see what Chris Stewart brings to an NHL team.
Tonight's game against the Kings showed us what to expect of Chris Stewart. Looks like we have another good first round pick to aid us in our rebuild.
Stewart put on a show tonight. In his first few games he was immediately cutting up the ice, getting out of position. Now, in his third game, we can finally see what the avs saw wen they drafted him.
Stewart is a very strong forward at 6'2 228. He's realized that if he moves to an area, no one can move him. He also realized that with his size, when he goes into the corners, he's a force. He can turn his shoulders and protect the puck from anyone. He also can move people off the puck just as easily. Tonight and, to an extent, in the Vancouver game, he asserted himself in the corners and made himself known. Tonight he was hungry around the puck, in both zones.
In his first two games, Stewart was lazy in the defensive zone. He would hang above the faceoff circles and watch the play. Tonight, he played very good defensive game. He was in the corners, trying to take the puck away, moving people and helping out his linemates. In doing so he forced the puck loose a lot and got the puck out frequently. He even did it on the PK, forcing the puck to Laperriere who sprung Stewart for his first NHL goal.
Stewart was also a presense in the offensive zone. As mentioned above, he couldn't be knocked off the puck. He used his size and sneaky speed to be effective. He stole the puck from Jason LaBarbara and set up Cody McLeod's first goal of the night. He also had 5 shots on net. Not just plain shots, they were all smart shots. One was a slap shot, another a wrap around, another a goal.
His goal will be the typical goal for him. He is not blessed with Milan Hejduk hands. Instead the will be the one to charge the net and throw the puck in. That's what he needs to do and he should be paired with a guy who can get the puck to him when he's in front of the net.
As impressive as Stewart was, a lot of what he did won't be found on a scoresheet but he was really effective. I've already mentioned his work in the corners. He also made smart passes in and out of the zone. He skated with his head up. He played with a lot of speed that backed the Kings' defense off.
He was also a great teammate. When there was a scrum and he was on the ice, he was there, standing up for his teammates.
Stewart had a great game and showed a lot of the reasons why he was a first round draft pick. It is looking like our 2003-07 drafts are going to be the ones that shape this team for the future. We've already seen some of the picks make an impact. The Avs already have David Jones(2003), Wojtek Wolski (2004), Paul Stastny (2005), T.J. Hensick (2005) and, Kyle Cumiskey (2005) making an impact.
There's also Derek Peltier (2004) Ryan Stoa (2005), Tom Fritsche (2005), Nigel Williams (2006), Kevin Shattenkirk (2006), Colby Cohen (2006) and T.J. Galiardi (2006) waiting in the wings. See my previous blog (http://my.hockeybuzz.com/...95&post_id=6762"
) for more information on these players.
Outlook: Stewart is going to be a force in the NHL. When he uses his speed in combonation with his size, he is unstopable. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain this and what defenses will do to stop him. He's bigger than most forwards and most of the defensemen he'll be playing with. He still needs to improve. He needs to skate to the front of the net with his stick on the ice. If he does this he will get a lot of goals. He must continue to be physical as well. He is naturally a physical guy and will need to remain physical if he is to be on top of his game. He also must be consistant. He has a tendency to get satisfied with himself. He needs to stay hungry and continue to play the same game he did tonight.