Sunday, November 21, 2010

Defenders At The Quarter Pole

20 games into the season is as good a time as any to look at some stats accumulated.

I present to you here the rundown of the defence as I've seen it so far, complete with expanded gamelog statistics. Green means good and blue means bad. Note how good in the goals, assists, and points scored does not always correspond with the rest -- hence the need for a gamelog that tells us more...

And just a quick recap for the legend:

G, A, Pts - you know already
PM - Plus/minus
Ch +/- - Differential in scoring chances at even strength (these chances combined by Olivier are basically shots, misses and blocked shots that happen from danger areas)
Fenwick - Shots and missed shots for minus those against at ES
Corsi - Shots, missed shots and blocked shots for minus those against at ES
Dome - Dome for that game = 1



Jaroslav Spacek

Grade:

B

Spacek has been plenty maligned for his play up to this point. Yet, for the most part, it must be said he is meeting expectation. He is often on the top defensive pairing for an improved defence and has chalked up 8 points already.

If you look at his gamelog, it doesn't show giveaways, but it does show that he's mostly been having good games with about 5 in 20 worth questioning. He has really turned it on lately as well, a timely spurt given the injury situation.


Ryan O'Byrne

Grade:

N/A

Not very much to judge him on, so I won't. He may thrive in Colorado and may yet be missed here.


Josh Gorges

Grade:

A-

Josh gets some hard assignments and comes through with flying colours most of the time. But if he wants an A+, then he has to find a way to avoid big blue patches on his even strength gamelog (see below). Still, over the first quarter, he has been the best defender on an improved defence, so that's worthy of praise.


Roman Hamrlik

Grade:

B+

Hamrlik is viewed as Spacek's babysitter at times, but the partnership actually seems more mutual than that. Hammer has lived up to all expectation of himself so far and has had a a few standout games. What this even strength gamelog doesn't show is PP and PK, where Hammer is actually quite a talent. I'd say a good quarter, and looking solid as we move ahead.


Alexandre Picard

Grade:

B+

Yes, Alex has had all the easier assignments at ES, but he's made a mockery of those he's faced at times (see Game 9). He's really been a pleasant surprise in the line of French Canadian Brisebois aspirants, as he gels better with his partners and makes less ridiculous passes. He too could have a higher mark, but for his pretty ineffective PP work to date.


Yannick Weber

Grade:

N/A

He's been a Hamilton stud so far, and last night he played well enough. There's nothing here to base a mark on, but keeping his record from last night will result in two changes: a move to the forward list, and a higher than average mark.



Hal Gill

Grade:

B

Gill really has taught us to think of defence differently, and Martin too, I think. The barely ambulatory lug is very effective when he's doing what his skills are built for. PK and playing obstructive ES D is where he thrives. A higher mark? Well, his limits as a defender do still hurt the team. His slow feet cost odd-man situations and his passing is not always Markovian. Gill has a ceiling, and so a B is more than it might be for others.


PK Subban

Grade:

A

Subban has been extremely impressive in his first NHL season. No hesitation, no fear, no reluctance to show people up. You can see from his outstanding gamelog what an asset he is on the 3rd pairing -- it gives those opponents hardly a chance to move as he cleans up and sets up offense with aplomb.

Things to work on for Subban are shooting without a 3 second back swing (too many attempts blocked) and even trusting his partner a bit more. To be saying only this about a 21-year-old defender is astounding.


Andrei Markov

Grade:

B+

Markov's game time doesn't allow much analysis either. Still, in seven games he gave enough impression to earn a grade. While Markov left the ice hobbling as the best Canadiens Dman, his seven games were a build to that point. When first back, he was quieter. 3 games in he was ambitious, even dangerously so. And against Carolina, he wasn't starting to conduct the orchestra again.

It is a shame that he leaves as his impact was just beginning to be felt. You will note there has only been one 7 goal effort for the Habs this season, and though they've won an impressive number, few wins have left the lingering feeling of offensive juggernaut. That is probably the biggest loss with this injury. The defenders (as seen above) have all been working out how to defend, but few can put it together with the extracurricular offence the way Andrei does.


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