ME PLAY HOCKEY GOOD MR. BURKE? - Bruce Bennett
Is Tyler Biggs figuring out how to use his size effectively? Boy, that could be a big development.
Flashback to last week's CHL Prospects This Week and this is what I had to say in the comment section about Tyler Biggs through 15 games:
I’m not sure if it’s a coaching strategy thing (because nobody on Oshawa does it) or a ‘Biggs is reticent’ thing but when he goes in front of the net, he doesn’t go to the top of the crease to really screen the goalie, he hangs out about six feet above that.
As to whether he can do it or not, I’m not sure he’s any better suited to that kind of thing than anyone else would be, really. What separates guys like Holmstrom or Ciccarelli from every other lesser-skilled player who doesn’t score are smarts and willingness. Whether Biggs is that guy or not is tough to say. He doesn’t dominate physically, he’s merely better than most in the OHL, so whether he’ll be capable of really asserting himself physically against men, I guess, will depend on how much bigger and stronger he gets. He self-describes as “not a point producer” and said that if he scored 25 goals this year in the OHL, he would consider that a successful offensive season. I don’t think he expects that he’ll ever be an offensive threat in a meaningful way.
I try not to make any concrete predictions in such small sample sizes but sharing observations and speculations is the purpose of blogging about Leafs prospects -- the point of watching these guys is to try and guess at what they could be.
For 15 games, Biggs was a big guy who used that size almost exclusively on the rink's periphery. If there was one complaint that I had about Biggs it's that he didn't have much of a net presence. Gus Katsaros over at The Leafs Nation opined that Biggs always seemed to be trying to get the puck off his stick within a second or two of touching it, which is an assessment I would also agree with.
It's almost as though he read what we wrote, flipped us both the bird, and became a different player.
Now if 15 games is too short a period to be making concrete prognostications then 3 games is hardly a drop in the bucket but the 3 games Biggs played last week were probably his best games of the year. In Thursday's game against Peterborough Biggs picked up a pair of primary assists, both on the powerplay, and spent the better part of the evening screening the goalie at the top of the blue paint. On Friday, Biggs didn't pick up a point on the lone Oshawa goal, but he was the player providing the screen. Sunday, oddly Biggs' least impressive game of the week, he picked up 4-points and spent more time on the penaltykill than he would in your average game.
When I expressed some scepticism about Biggs' abilities as a point producer, I suggested that a lot of what separates the players with great net presence from those forwards who are merely 'large' is that player's willingness to go to the grimy areas of the ice. I don't want to sound unduly like Don Cherry here but there is a place on a team's top-6 for a guy who will take a lot of punishment to score even if they may not have the best puck skills or be the fastest skater.
Now I'm not issuing a formal retraction nor am I standing atop the CN Tower preaching the Gospel of Biggs but I will say that during the 3 games last week, Biggs did everything right. Whether you're a fanboy or hate Tyler Biggs on a personal level, I think we're all pulling for more games like those.