Friday, January 14, 2011

First Half Check-Up

Scoring Forwards

The scoring forwards are hanging on to that collective title by a thread lately. 20 games in, I don't think we saw it ending up here, but it has.

Here's where I thought the scoring forwards stood at the midway point.

Legend:

G, A, Pts, Dome - you know already
PM - Plus/minus
Ch +/- - Differential in scoring chances at even strength
Fenwick - Shots and missed shots for minus those against at ES
Corsi - Shots, missed shots and blocked shots for minus those against at ES


Tomas Plekanec

Grade:

A

An A is a lofty grade for a player on 64-point pace. But we mustn't forget that Tomas is so much more than points. Besides leading the team in points, assists, and often goals, he plays in a shutdown role and takes the brunt of the penalty killing duties. This stuff doesn't even show up in his gamelog because the sources that some stats are pulled from only seem to value ES. He's a coach's dream and the type of player you just can't buy in this league. We're fortunate to have have found him.



Michael Cammalleri

Grade:

B

Cammalleri's had many good games. However, the expectation for him is that he will be a threat, and often even a scorer and a difference-maker over many of the nights of hockey. Thus far, he hasn't really been that guy. The law of averages tells us that after the playoffs he had, he needed to endure a slower period like this. Even a player playing with Plekanec (as hot as he was at the beginning of the season) has not done too too well to basically put together two little streaks of productivity. The good news is that he's on track with his Fenwick trend, showing he is getting more shots through defenders than the opposition when he's on.



Andrei Kostitsyn

Grade:

B

This is a different kind of B than Mike's. Mike has been B all the way, whereas Andrei was easily an A through 20 games and has lost points through his slump. That remains an important distinction. Andrei has been excellent this season for a 20+ game stretch. How many can say that? Besides the tail off in goals, the reason to downgrade Andrei has to be the levelling off of his other metrics. While he's played well at times through his pointless games (see domes), he still could do better by finding the zip in his step and the killer look in his eye.



Scott Gomez

Grade:

B

Gomez kind of fell into a point streak in this second 20 games, After game 30, he was the prime offensive threat on the team for a stretch. Still, it does not elevate him from out of the B club. Again, this B is a very different kind. In November, Scott was rated a generous B- for the extra things he was doing en route to becoming the highest paid third centre in the league. We must take his play from Game 30 as hugely encouraging, however, as the shots on net stats show a very nice turnaround for his line lately.




Brian Gionta

Grade:

A-

Among the scoring forwards, his second 20 games was probably the best turnaround. When the team needed goals over the last 6 weeks, more often than not it was the captain chipping them in one way or another. He's a Corsi and Fenwick dream too, as he dominates his opponents in shots directed at the net (or just wide) when on the ice. For a team often missing oomph up front, and usually missing goal threats, he's a gem. A very good first half season as captain -- he's doing the C proud.




Max Pacioretty

Grade:

B+

I'm not sure has ever done so much to reinforce the notion that throwing the puck into the crease is the way to score. His first goal was an errant pass, I think 4 of his 5 points were. 5 points in 10 games is OK, but he doesn't get his mark for that. After all, some wouldn't score his goals or assists as scoring chances in the strictest sense (i.e., he got a tad lucky). All that aside, he has been a nice addition to the team. His new-found confidence has at least allowed him to unshackle his defensive tendency and play like a forward. During this stretch we needed that player.



Benoit Pouliot

Grade:

B+

The man without ice time has been the phantom of the scoring forwards. Strictly speaking, Ben should supersede Max and Kostitsyn when in a slump for minutes. There'd be a case to give him some of Cammalleri's minutes, I think too. What he's done with half a season for me is to establish that he's an NHL player, and even thinking about being a scorer in this league. I think all of that was in question last May. I'd like to see more flourishes from Ben, and timed so that martin has to try him with a proper feed. I think this B+ has the potential to go up if the right things happen.


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