After a couple months and finally having a chance to use it on a consistent basis, I have my decision on the Easton Stealth RS stick: unbelievable!
I have used the Stealth line since Easton came out with the elliptical taper on the S-17's. The last five years I have almost exclusively used two stick lines, Easton Stealth (S-17, S-19, RS) and Warrior Dolomites. This review is going to be a little bit about using the newest Stealth released back in the fall, the RS.
When I used the S-17, I picked it up and loved it. The S-19 - same thing - one shot and I was in heaven. The RS however, I almost considered putting away after the first skate, where I used it in warm-ups and then benched it. It rode the pine in favor of the Dolomite for the game, but at the end I decided to give it another try and I ended up loving it. It just took a little more time to get used to than its predecessors.
The model I use is the RS Hall Curve (think Sakic, P92, Draper) 85 Flex, non-grip. Upon taking the first shot, I immediately noticed two things, it has a much different kick-point than I expected (based on using the other two) and it's a very whippy stick. Leaning into shots, it felt much softer than an 85 Flex, and the stick was noticeably flexing forward on my release and follow-through. As I figured out how the stick was going to react, I couldn’t believe how smooth the puck was coming off the blade. Without exaggeration, snapshots felt like they were coming off as smooth as a saucer pass, just rolling off the blade. On top of the great feel, I was putting the puck where I wanted. A symphony of pipes in warm-ups.
There is nothing like the release on this stick, I haven’t ever used anything that came close. Just lightning fast. I lean into a snapshot and its gone. It creates and incredible advantage if you find yourself with an open shot and only need to beat the 'tendy. As soon as you see the goalie shuffle across and it flashes in your mind “shoot now” before he sets, its gone. You can go from thinking shoot to release so quick that it’s mind-blowing. The advantage of being able to release so quick is so important in today’s game - goalies are big, but still quick - so being able to place it where you want when you need to is crucial, and the RS allows you to do it.
The most noticeable improvement I see from the S-19 is the feel of the blade. Again, when I first touched the puck with it I thought it had absolutely zero feel and it felt like a hard blade. As I got used to it, I liked the feel a lot more. I realized it didn’t feel like no feel, it was just a much different feel. Playing with it now, I can really feel the puck a lot more so than I did with the S-19. A month later now, I can tell you I think that great feel comes at a cost, the heel and toe of this stick have worn out a little and chipped and splintered quicker than most sticks I have used. I can’t say for certain why, but the RS blade does not seem to have great durability.
On the other side of the durability discussion, I think the RS shaft feels a lot sturdier than the previous Stealths. The problem I have with the shaft is the grip. As I mentioned I use the non-grip, and as sweet as that matte black looks, I think it makes the stick a bit slicker. I haven’t used one, but I have held the grip version and I can instantly tell you it is way to sticky for me. I’m particular, and need a bit of grip without going overboard; the RS doesn’t really have that option. Its none or too much in my eyes. With the non-grip, I felt I needed more shaft tape than I would normally put on. I found myself looking for something in between the clear and grip shafts.
Overall the Easton RS is an amazing twig. Easton never ceases to astonish me with their innovations. Since the S17 came out, I have found that here is nothing like the first snapshot with a newly released Stealth model.