Analysis by BruinsUnite
By November of 2008, Blake Wheeler seemed to be doing pretty well for himself. He scored his first hat-trick against Toronto at the beginning of that month, and was all the rage. Unfortunately, he remained pointless for the next 5 games, got an assist on the sixth game following the hat-trick, and returned to a pointless 4-game slump. So it’s safe to say that his post-Toronto slump lasted 10 games.
Strong Points: Still, when it scores, it’s usually in important games won by a goal, and he is, after all, at +36, boasting 21 goals and 22 assists. He doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the team, in terms of style of play, but he’s got some finesse and maybe someday that develop nicely enough to overshadow the lack of stamina.
Yet even if Wheeler remains a 20-goal scorer, or even if he were to become a 30-goal scorer, is that sufficient to justify the non-physical play? I don’t think so. While he’s skating around with the puck, losing it and taking hooking penalties, his teammates are being stripped of scoring opportunities and they’re taking all the hard hits. In that case, Wheeler’s 20 goals lose their appeal.
Being a rookie isn’t an excuse for taking penalties and not playing hard. We can safely conclude just that from looking at Lucic, Kessel, Hunwick and even Byron Bitz, who I suspect can learn a lot from Lucic. Once he learns to attack, he will be unstoppable.
Points of improvement: 6’5″, and no visible trace of aggression or stamina. Note:
Over the last couple seasons, Wheeler has added a lot of size, though he’s still filling out, and growing into his frame. Wheeler is a good skater, has deceptive speed, and has great acceleration when needed, but needs to increase his stamina. He can stickhandle at top speed, but needs to develop more moves, especially power driven moves coming out of the corner. He needs to be a bit more creative on the forecheck, using his body and keeping his legs constantly moving. When he shows spurts of confidence driven play, he can be very effective on forecheck, most notably down low. He needs to continue to improve on creating space and or distance while he’s on the puck. He has the ability to play on special teams.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that Wheeler should be working on intensifying his play, using his body, increasing his stamina and essentially growing up in terms of character. He has been pushed around often enough on the ice, and there’s no justification for having smaller players come to his defense.
Posted on April 8, 2009, in Analysis, Analysis by BruinsUnite, Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins News, Bruin Inspiration, Bruins Analysis, NHL Analysis, Player Analysis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.