Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dan Catanacci vs Hartford Wolf Pack 11/11/16 (Grade D+)

Tonight's 5-2 thriller was the most exiting home game of the year so far. There are a couple tap-ins that I would like to get to before Catenacci's scouting report. Fedun played an amazing game, and is starting to look like the playmaking defenseman he was expected to be for the Amerks. He far exceeded physical expectations in his dominant fighting performance that capped off his Gordie Howe hat trick. Also Fedun and Nylander are developing quite the partnership on the power play. In my last review I mentioned that I thought Nylander could turn into a special weapon on the power play and he didn't disappoint tonight, with a goal and an assist. Last I want to give credit to Justin Kea for playing one of the best games I have seen him play at this level. He picked his spot perfectly on his first goal of the night and did a great job fighting for net front position before he redirected his second goal. I think this could be a huge game for Kea, helping him to earn some more ice time even when the Sabres get healthy, and the Amerks get some reinforcements.

I was hoping that Dan Catenacci would take the mantle from Cole Schnieder as the offensive leader tonight. Instead of rising to the challenge he seemed to have no desire in making an impact tonight. At times I felt like he was more interested in watching the game then I was. My lasting impression of his game tonight will be him slowly ghosting into the zone (both offensive and defensive) behind the play with his stick on his hips waiting for the game to come to him. For that reason tonight I am going to give him a D+. I think Catenacci is capable of playing at a very high level and for a few shifts tonight he did, but in a night where he had an opportunity to step up and maybe become the next NHL call up he did the exact opposite. 

In the face off circle Catenacci did a decent job tonight and won the majority of his face offs. Unfortunately he did not do a good job on face offs in the defensive zone. This led to first goal of night for Hartford. After he lost the face off clean he failed to get out and pressure the shooter. Instead he watched the defenseman uncork a slap shot that found its way through traffic and into the net. I would like to see Catenacci work on his timing to win more face offs clean. When he wasn't able too he did a pretty good  job of tying up the other center and working hard to win the puck. 

In the offensive zone I don't think Catenacci worked hard enough to get on the puck. Most of the time when the puck was dumped in he was slow entering the zone and watching one of his other forwards dig the puck out. In one of the few instances he was ahead of the play on the breakout he made a nice play receiving a tough pass and getting a shot off. He chased down the rebound and moved it to the point leading to a goal for Fedun. Unfortunately that was only a quick flash in what was a very dull offensive night. He very rarely skated the puck into the zone but when he did he made a nice pass to Nylander that led to a good shot opportunity. Catenacci clearly has playmaking ability, but he needs to work harder to get on the puck in the zone and create chances. 

On the defensive side of the puck Catenacci was a liability for most of the night. His forechecking efforts were minimal and most of the time he let his other forwards do the work as he waited for Hartford to enter the zone. Once in the zone instead of sticking close to a man he spent most of the night in open space puck watching. His inability to be in position and close down shooters directly led to multiple shots tonight. Fortunately Ullmark was able to bail him out most of the time with another stelar performance between the pipes. But it wasn't a coincidence that Catenacci was on the ice for both Hartford goals.  

Catenacci is in a very important place in his career development. Over the coarse of this year he needs to prove weather he can earn a call up, or if he is going to become a career AHL player. I think he has a lot of potential, but his play is alarmingly inconsistent from game to game and even period to period. For him to have any shot at reaching his NHL potential he needs to put forth more consistent effort and production.


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