Here’s some stuff most of you will find interesting, as Lombardi shares his opinion about some of the players he signed this summer, plus his opinion on Marc Crawford’s ever-changing lines…
Q: Along those lines, with the new faces… When you have guys like Handzus and Nagy who haven’t given you much yet, how much of that is a product of them not finding the right roles and how much of it is them just not playing well?
LOMBARDI: Well, in terms of numbers, what did you expect from Nagy?
Q: Well, in this case it’s probably more Handzus than Nagy.
LOMBARDI: Yeah, I think that’s probably where… You know what, if there’s one thing about Michal, he will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t played up to his expecations. Nobody questions his work ethic. Nobody is harder on him than himself, and that’s one good thing and that’s why I believe he will get through it. He knows he’s a better player, and that he has to play better, so what else are you going to say? He has not performed up to our expectations, and what’s more important is that it’s certainly not up to his expectations either. I think he’s been better of late. One of the things with Michal is that his game — if you talk to the coaches — there’s a lot of subtle things in his game that aren’t (visibly) attractive. He doesn’t look pretty. He plays the angles and gets his stick in the lane and wins battles down low. We’ve seen flashes of that, but he has to be consistent there. It’s not going to be anything that’s flashy. I think he’s been better lately, and we’ve seen signs of it, but it has to be there consistently. That was his hallmark, doing those little things night in and night out. This isn’t a guy who `brings you out of your seat’ because he’s going end to end.
It’s like that play he made last night with Nagy to create the 2-on-1. It’s a little subtle board pass there. It’s not something you really notice, but then when you look at it again, you say, `Wow, that’s a hell of a play.’ But he’s got to do that more often. He never was a highlight-film player. The most important thing, in his case, is that nobody knows he has to do more than he does. That’s one of the positives, about knowing his character, that makes me believe he’s going to come out of it. And I don’t think Nagy has been…maybe you expect a little more production but I don’t know. What did you expect?
Q: A little bit more.
LOMBARDI: Yeah, you could say a little bit more, but I don’t think the expectations have been as far off as with Handzus.
Q: I guess when I looked at the team in training camp, I thought the top line would be strong but then you would need maybe a Handzus-Nagy-Frolov line for some good secondary scoring…
LOMBARDI: Yeah, that’s a good point. I would agree. If you look at it overall, secondary scoring has been an issue and it’s safe to say that. On one hand, Fro has put his numbers up, but in Fro fashion he can be really good or a little invisible. Nagy is a little off, then you’ve got the whole thing with Zeus and then you’ve got (Derek Armstrong) struggling. So it’s safe to say, as a team, there are a lot of guys there. Calder had a great camp, then struggled a little early. Then he started coming on and he got hurt. So I think we were expecting more secondary scoring, yeah, and that hasn’t happened. That’s the other reason, going back to the other thing, that allows other teams to gang up on our top-line guys, making their job even more difficult. So when you’re talking about expectations, we would have expected more secondary scoring.
Q: A couple minutes ago, you talked about Marc having to tinker a lot with the lines. That’s something that fans have talked about a lot. Many of them think he does it too much and that he’s doing a poor job managing the team. Is there a fine line there, between tinkering and overdoing things? Is he crossing that line?
LOMBARDI: It is a fine line, but that’s part of being a coach. Those are the things you can’t always script. It’s a feel that you get, not only before the game but even during the game, when you make changes. This would probably go back to me saying that we have so many new faces. He’s trying to find it. You try to find lightning in a bottle and say, `Hey, these guys work.’ So I think you get more of that when, going back to the point about all the new faces and people finding their roles and understanding their roles, I think that’s part of what you’re seeing. He’s trying to find a solution.
The counter to that is, `OK, but you have to leave them together and give them a chance.’ Well, I don’t think he’s doing… I don’t think he’s overdoing it or anything like that. We’re 20 games in. We wanted to assume that because Handzus and Nagy’s chemistry was so good in St. Louis… and that didn’t work early. Then, Army hasn’t been on his game. So, if (Marc) wasn’t trying, people would criticize him the other way. That’s just the way it works. I don’t think that’s a valid criticism.