I was in Windsor last night for what was an exciting game between these to rivals. Coach Dale Hunter tried juggling lines up for the Knights who are having trouble scoring goals early this season putting Jared Knight, Vladislav Namestnikov and Seth Griffith on a line.
Goaltender Michael Houser, coming off of a shut out Friday night was great in net despite allowing 4 goals. Houser is very good with his lateral movement, his rebound control, is quick getting back up on his feet, directs shots very well out of danger, is excellent at picking up shots through traffic. If there is one thing he needs to work on its handling the puck. Although he was overlooked in the draft last year, he will garner a lot of attention in 2011.
London's Seth Griffith had a good weekend with 4 assists and a plus 4 in two games. Last night in Windsor he showed his grittiness, excellent passing ability, his quickness at getting into the forecheck and a very good defensive game. In six games, Griffith has yet to score his first goal of the season, but now has 6 assists in 6 games.
Russian import Vladislav Namestnikov is quietly finding his game. The smooth skating center man had a learning process playing in North America for the first time but seems to be finding his game. He leads the Knights now with 3 goals and 5 assists and is a plus 4. He shows a willingness to back check and shows a dedication to the defensive game. He is an excellent play maker who finds open men and seams. He is willing to go to the dirty areas and take the puck to the net. One thing he needs to work on is to use his shot more often.
Defenseman Scott Harrington is a force in the defensive zone. He is excellent in front of his net, battles hard in the corners and on the boards and comes away with the puck most of the time. He makes good outlet passes. he doesn't carry it as much as he probably could. Offensively, he has a good shot from the point, accurate and gets it through. Doesn't always look for the bomb from the point and sometimes looks for a good low wrist shot for a deflection. He still needs to learn when to pinch since he doesn't have great speed to recover.
Windsor's Alex Khokhlachev is everything we were told he would be. A superb skater who plays both sides of the puck extremely well. He drives the net hard, is usually the first player in on the forecheck and he battles hard along the boards. He has a tremendous passing ability and an excellent shot. With 1 goal last night, he now has 6 goals and 5 assists in 8 games.
Defenseman Steven Trojanovic is a work horse in the defensive zone. He doesn't give opponents much room. He plays a physical game and is capable of standing players up. Strong in front of the net, he clears the puck effectively. his offensive game will come with experience but don't expect him to be a force offensively.
Fellow defenseman Craig Duininck is in a similar situation. It is often said in hockey that if you don't notice a player, he is going about his business quietly. And that was the case with Duininck last night. Like Trojanovic, he is strong in his own zone but not as physical. He also has offensive potential that will come with more experience.
As for the rest of the Spits, I will have more on them when i do their profiles.