I think a lot of it has to do with what I started getting at in my thread a couple weeks ago: Nyquist since Datsyuk's Return & Unnatural NHL Development
Nyquist had 2 assists for 2 points in 11 games once Datsyuk returned. I think when the big guy was back, he likely changed his approach to everything in his game. And I really do mean everything. I don't care how much teams can learn about a guy and work to shut him down, once Datsyuk came back, if anything, he should've at least had more room some of the time because you can't just ignore Datsyuk. And the guy was on such a tear for more than just a couple of weeks, that he only was able to muster 2 assists in 11 games once Datsyuk returned, playoffs and Boston's D or not, you've got to acknowledge that some of the synapses that were firing in his head that lead him to be successful while Datsyuk was gone started firing in a different way, absolutely not for the better. There's really no other logical explanation for such a complete drop off in production.
That said, as I said in my thread, I don't think there's anything wrong with Nyquist or a lot of our guys, but I think the adrenaline rush you have when you get called up from the minors to replace someone who's injured in the middle of the season can sometimes get you through a lot of the bumps in the road regular NHL guys have to learn to work through by simply growing as an NHL player. It can be like rocket fuel for some guys, Nyquist included in this case. So some of these guys come up and play at a really high level off of this adrenaline rush, and then when they're dropped back down to the minors or a major team dynamic changes like Datsyuk coming back, the flimsy nature of an adrenaline rush gets shaken, and suddenly you're not only changing your game or playing in a different role, you're struggling with a new mental battle of trying to match what you've now already done.
Expectations mount not just in your own mind, but among your team, your coaches, the media, the fans.
That's a lot for a young guy to take, and it's certainly not the kind of headache they need when they really should just be focusing on how to become a regular NHLer. That's a hard enough task for most guys, but when you tack on the expectations that come from these one-off mid-season surges, I think you stand to really derail a guys natural progress.
The ultimate point of my original thread was that clearly we have a lot more guys in GR that are ready for the NHL than we thought, but we can't expect them to just manifest the skills it takes to be an NHL regular in the middle of the season when they're just blown away by the excitement of finally playing in the NHL. I think we need to start bringing guys up a little bit earlier than we have and giving them time to adjust to being an NHL regular in a more normal lineup. This takes a lot of that early pressure off and allows a guy more time to grow into his skill set and develop mentally.
I admit, I could be way off on this, but the last 5-6 years, I've been paying more attention to this sort of thing and it's become more and more apparent as time's gone on that there might be something to it. We've seen a lot of guys come through our system, have their "flash in the pan" moments of brilliance at odd times, typically when playing in a role that they would not be in normally at an early stage in their career, and as they become NHL regulars, they end up struggling not only with general consistency, but more so with coming close to matching the performances they achieve when the stars aren't in the lineup. That is a mental struggle, because if you can dial it in in certain moments and not others, we're not talking about a physical or technical limitation, we're talking about self-imposed mental barriers that guys are putting up.
Again, while it's clearly a theory and one that may be very wrong, I think there might be a good chance that we might see more consistent and ultimately better long-term results from some of our more skilled players if they're allowed to do some of their ripening on the NHL level in a smaller role suitable to grow and learn in. They'd be used to playing in a lineup with the stars and vets, and they'd be used to the grind of the NHL and the typical ups and downs. It's just hard for me to imagine that not helping a player to develop a better mental game, while I can think of countless reasons why early success in unusual situations can set a guy up for failure and stifle the growth of their mental game.
And of course, the side-benefit I mentioned of less room for washed up mid-level guys that have mostly been disaster signings for awhile now. Big plus right there to my development suggestion...
-Elliot...does not panic.