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Bertuzzi and the Beast: Zack Kassian


elvis15

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Found this blog through a Tyson Giuriato tweet:

Bertuzzi and the Beast: Zack Kassian

Sitting on the Canucks’ bench during a short break in play on April 5th, Zack Kassian – like many of the other players, chatting and drawing breath – had his eyes on the jumbotron, and a montage of Pavel Bure’s most dazzling moments in a Vancouver jersey. The ‘Russian Rocket’ was being honoured in-arena, and a standing ovation from the crowd acknowledged that it was a rare kind of hockey that – realistically – may never be seen on ice again. Kassian disagreed. Finding himself attacking the crease a short moment later, he channelled Pavel and tried a clever stick-to-skate deke he’d just seen on tape. “For some reason as I was skating to the net, I just decided to try it. I had never ever tried that move before and it didn’t work out too well for me. My skate didn’t even hit the ice and the puck went right underneath it.”

The moment made for laughs in the dressing room and light-hearted stories in the press, but it was not an insubstantial symbol of Kassian’s development. In a later, more pressing game against the Chicago Blackhawks, in which division titles and the President’s Trophy were on the line, Kassian summoned up the spirit of another ex-Canuck: Todd Bertuzzi. At net front, he pushed himself clear of Duncan Keith and, with newfound space and an incoming puck, leaned gently back to tap in the 2-0 goal. It all looked uncannily natural.

Zack Kassian not only holds his heroes in high esteem, but understands much about the way they play and has the belief that he, too, can play like that. It’s a rare self-efficacy for a 22-year old, especially one who has been in and out of the minor league with such frequency. Though he has been labelled as inconsistent by the public, such doubt has never reached Kassian himself: over the course of a 48-game season, he raised himself up from an uncertain prospect utilized for less than five minutes per game against Los Angeles, to a capable and powerful specialist playing around thirteen. In this most recent series he looked as comfortable cycling the puck with the Sedins as he was laying hits and making bad-angle chaos with Maxim Lapierre.

It is his time spent with Daniel and Henrik that should be most exciting for followers of the Canucks. He has already shown an ability to slip into the twins’ idiomatic puck-possession game, using his great strength to effectively cycle behind the net and feed chances with quick hands that betray his lumbering, beastly size. What the Sedins can give to Kassian represents an unusual skillset for a power forward: a few intangible quirks, perhaps, of their selfless yet reliably productive play. What it represents to the Canucks’ organization is the rare chance to extend a winning formula into the new generation.

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I really liked what I saw from Kass in the playoffs, played very smart and drove the net well.

We might see shades of an excellent player next year but in 2 years i expect to see him as a force for the Canucks.

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I would like to see him get a much longer look with the Sedins before demoting him back down to the 4th line. I think all 3 need that time to get into a groove both cycling the puck and also creating offensive chances as a result of it. I think a key reason that AV shies away from using them more is the defensive factor. Burrows provides a defensive conscience to the line that Kassian does not bring. And the Sedins are not the best defensively 5 on 5 either.

For Kassian's part though to get that bigger opportunity he needs to still work on his conditioning and his consistency in putting out max effort. He still looks like he gets gassed pretty easily and can start to float when he does.

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Kassian doesn't string enough good plays together, he reminds me a bit of Steve Bernier right now. He shows signs but he's just not finishing off plays. He does share a playmaking ability with Bertuzzi which is pretty rare for a power forward, unfortunately he's not near the skater Bertuzzi was.

The thing Burrows does that's worked so well with the Sedins is he tries to be what they need. He'll act like a 3rd Sedin at times getting involved in the pasing, then at other times he'll go to the net and pretend to be a power forward and finish plays off.

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the unfortunate thing is that he would have had around 8 more points after playing with the Sedins. He and Booth were playiing great and he was feeding Booth great passes, but Booth had no finish.

edit: that would be around 19 points in 39 games, not bad.

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I think our top line can work more on outscoring the line they are on the ice with. I am not saying defence shmeefence, but if your top line can score 2 goals a game with relative ease then it is okay if they let the other team score one. Just sayin...we didn't not defend well enough in the playoffs, what we didn't do is score enough, two years in a row in the playoffs.

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Kassian is just pure potential right now.

The thing that bothers me about him is his lack of a two way game. A lot of times I see him floating around the defensive zone. If he can use his body and stick to retrieve pucks back then the coaches would have no problem moving him up the lineup.

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The problem isn't Zack. He wa doing what was expceted of him and producing. The problem is the Sedins. They need a linemate that can carry the physical play, create space and be teh defensive conscience/speed they lack. Talk about one-dimmensional.

The Sedins are too sheltered by what their linemate is required to bring. If you watch other top players in the league, they carry more of the load (going to the hard areas, taking the body, standing in front of the net, driving the net etc) and therefore are more effective and make others more effective on their line. Year after year we have seen the Sedins shut down in the playoffs because their precision passing and space is not there, forcing them to be strictly perimeter players.

It is the Sedins that need to adjust to a more attacking style of play. One that drives the net and to the scoring areas. Personally, and as Danny has become mroe of a passer than a shooter in the last 2 years, I think they may be more effective split up. You can have 1 soft, slow but talented player on a top 6 line but to be effective in the playoffs, 2 on a line is suicide, as we have seen.

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The problem isn't Zack. He wa doing what was expceted of him and producing. The problem is the Sedins. They need a linemate that can carry the physical play, create space and be teh defensive conscience/speed they lack. Talk about one-dimmensional.

The Sedins are too sheltered by what their linemate is required to bring. If you watch other top players in the league, they carry more of the load (going to the hard areas, taking the body, standing in front of the net, driving the net etc) and therefore are more effective and make others more effective on their line. Year after year we have seen the Sedins shut down in the playoffs because their precision passing and space is not there, forcing them to be strictly perimeter players.

It is the Sedins that need to adjust to a more attacking style of play. One that drives the net and to the scoring areas. Personally, and as Danny has become mroe of a passer than a shooter in the last 2 years, I think they may be more effective split up. You can have 1 soft, slow but talented player on a top 6 line but to be effective in the playoffs, 2 on a line is suicide, as we have seen.

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Kassian is just pure potential right now.

The thing that bothers me about him is his lack of a two way game. A lot of times I see him floating around the defensive zone. If he can use his body and stick to retrieve pucks back then the coaches would have no problem moving him up the lineup.

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Kassian NEEDS to be stapled with (in my opinion) Kesler, and they need to be left to work things out on their own.

Burrows is great with the Sedin's, Kassian is also good with the Sedin's. But Burrows is not as good with Kesler, and I feel a Kesler/Kassian combo on the 2nd would be ultra beastmode. Kesler is defensive enough, and I'm pretty sure his energy would rub off on Kassian.

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Kassian had some good shifts on line 2 but was never able to get any chemistry due to roster changes and the Higgins injury.

He spent most of the season with guys like Ebbet feeding him. I found that odd because once Kass got an opputunity to be offensive he would create scoring chances. His good at putting shots on the net that create rebounds to crash after.

His defensive work is his weak spot, but let him rip offensively and he'll produce. He just needs constant hands on coaching in his youth and with the potencial he brings, it's worth the time to do.

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Needs to be better this coming season. 23 isn't exactly a "kid" anymore. Plenty of younger players making impacts, he was a 1st rounder, has the size that many rookies-sophomores don't have. Even though not fully matured, gotta do some damage, we are missing a very good player while we wait.

Not too worried, I expect he will be pretty beast.

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I think what makes a player like Kassian turn from ok to good to great is having a coach that will work with him so that no matter who his line mates are he can be successful. This constant maintenance should go hand in hand with lineup decisions so that the lines on the ice can be as effective as possible.

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