I attended last nights Blades game at Sask Place. Sat 8th row, on blueline. '3,000 paid customers' in that arena is pretty sad, but they've been so bad for so long there is no hope. They are a bad hockey team. They've recently been bought by a 35 year old who likes the bar scene in Saskatoon. The year they had Schenn and Holtby they got swept in the 1st round. That was 'their year.' I meant to track zone entries and corsi, but I was with a pal who is a Wings fan, and once the beer hit my lips it was over. Just watched Nielsen and a kid on the Blades I taught from Warman, Terrell Draude. God bless him he tries hard, but the skill level just isn't there and his Dub career hasn't gone as planned.
On to Andrew Nielsen.
Very, very impressed. He's a presence on an excellent hockey team. The Hurricanes are an awful team historically, but they've put together a team with size, skill, skating, and toughness.
He ended the night with 1g 2a 3 pts +1. The scoring initially said he had 1 and 1, its since been changed. It also says he had 0 shots. He had 4 by my count. The fact he scored a goal on a shot into the open net should at least net him 1sog. I don't know how the shots can be so bad in so many places without something being done about it. On the first assist he got it under pressure at point and looked like he could just fling it at the net, but he got his head up and made a short sharp pass to the slot where it was fired home. His second assist was hard blast from the point that was tipped 5-hole. He has great ability to make a quick deke at the blue line and fire a shot on net. Takes a lot of confidence.
Nielsen's skating surprised me. He can skate like the wind, and threw in a couple saucer passes . One in particular stood out. He jumped in to the rush on the left hand side in a 3 on 2. Center dished to Neislen as they crossed the blue line then drove behind the d-man. Looked like Nielsen would just fire it across ice to other winger, instead he chip sauced it right on the tape of the driving center creating a scoring chance. For a big man he has great edges, and his head is up with the puck quite regularly. He is intimidating and not shy to get involved, smart about it. Very calm demeanor, appears to be a silent leader.
He turned the puck over directly twice. Once to a d man as he missed the winger with a pass to the half wall. It led to a hard shot on goal. He also flung a couple of pucks, admittedly with little options, through the neutral zone right to other teams D. Not ideal, as he had time to do a little more. He bobbled the puck a couple times, but all-in-all was good at skating with the puck. He hammered two shots, one pad save blocker side he really wired. The other was on the deflection goal. Shoots hard and low, again intelligence is shown. He pinched and missed once that led to a goal; however, his dman lost the goal scorer on a wraparound, while Nielsen had recovered well and had position on his man.
I was really impressed, as I've said. The Hurricanes are a real good team with no elite superstars. Nielsen played pp2 and pk1. His ice time increased as game went on, and he looked a little disappointed a couple of times to be taken off for pp1 at start of pp. I'd guess 19-22 minutes ice time.
ps the Blades for some reason just traded for a terrific 18 year old goalie who came on in relief. Very tall...played unreal. Evan Smith, remember the name. Late bloomer. Game was 7-4, but would be more likely to be 9-2 if it was played again.
Holla at me if you have any questions about Nielsen or anything really.
Get some pitching Jays.