Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Half Check-Up

Defence

20 games in, this was a well above average crew sitting near the top of the league in goals against and near the top of the standings for it.

Let's see where the defenders are now 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


Roman Hamrlik


Grade:

B+

The Hammer went from being a plus player with sketchy supporting stats to a player just under neutral at ES, but with much improved Fenwick, Cosi and chance differential. His second twenty games included a 7-game span that he'd probably rather forget (as would Habs and fans in general), but it also contained a stretch where he was fully outstanding.for 11 games. Given his new brief to carry the biggest load on D, he has done remarkably well. And under the radar has been his steady point production that gives him the pace of a true offensive defenceman.



Jaroslav Spacek


Grade:

B

Spacek's had his ups and downs as well, yet I admire the way he recovers from his low points to return good efforts. If B is a nice solid, round, average grade, then that's what i give Spacek. He has been a steadying influence for the team and an important player for shadowing some top stars. he has shown more toughness than he gets credit for (have you ever seen anyone go face first into the boards so many times?), and he has done it performing an expanded role. I'd like to see him alter the play so that his Fenwick number soars a bit more, but -5 isn't all that bad.



Josh Gorges


Grade:

B+

Josh had a great great start. It definitely tapered off, and the surgery to the knee tells us why. Full credit to him for playing a career so far on a damaged joint, but I am wont to deduct points for pushing the envelope to the point that he was making the team suffer and that now his recovery date falls squarely in the summer. At his best this year, he could have laid his hands on the #1 mantle for the team, but he was too many games below his absolute top to warrant an A grade. The improvements must now wait till next year, next contract. They should include more care to chances being allowed and perhaps a little more courage to participate in the offense.



Hal Gill

Grade:

B+

Hal's often been the poorer cousin in his partnerships, but since Gorges started feeling the pain, I feel he has stepped up. And then there has been another step since Gorges went down. Gill has his limits, but the good thing with him is that he knows them well and has with experience worked out how to deal with many of them. I used to look at Hal Gill as a massive liability, but these days I look at him as a useful weapon, one that creates an advantage if deployed correctly. Penalty kill is the best example of his special skill, and he more than any player is responsible for the Canadiens excellence in this category.



PK Subban

Grade:

A

PK has been bitten with some goals against in the last 20 games, and a couple of those were due to some silly errors in judgment. Despite this, he continues to rampage in the new stats categories. It's truly impressive that a rookie can tip the ice surface so squarely in favour of his team as PK has done. For that he earns the top mark among defenders. It will be interesting to see how he copes with his expanding workload. So far so good, as he curtailing his search for the big hit a bit and beginning to skate again.



Alexandre Picard

Grade:

B+

Picard gets a lot of his impressive numbers courtesy of his smooth skating partner. But it would be unfair not to at least admit he provides the backing solid enough from which the assaults the other way can be launched. As time goes by, I consider the Picard acquisition more and more important in the scheme of things. After losing Markov again, and Gorges, it's a very good thing Gauthier made this acquisition in the summertime. Perhaps the biggest surprise with Picard is that he's not really an offensive defenceman at all. perhaps that's due to the energy it takes him to fulfill Martin's requests of him. Either way, I like him on the blueline at the moment.



James Wisniewski

Grade:

N/A

Whoknewski? I have to say it again. Replacing Markov was going to be impossible. But other than that the Canadiens needed to replace MA Bergeron. So far Wisniewski has done just that, and with a much more comforting style in the back end. I reserve the right not to rate him for 4 games in the first half. A continuation of his current play will ensure something quite generous, I'm sure. 5 points with an OT gamewinner is icing on the cake in this trade.



Yannick Weber

Grade:

B

Weber's another player who probably hasn't done exactly as expected. I'm sure he was brought in to provide seeing eye shots for the PP, but he hasn't done that. Even so, he's a much improved defender to the Weber of last season or the playoffs previous. His play to this point has been adequate for his role, and occasionally very good. I'd like to think he can improve even more and gain the confidence to become an offensive contributor. I'd like to think he can improve even more and gain the confidence to become an offensive contributor.



Andrei Markov

Grade:

B

No games. So I reinsert what I wrote at 20 games:

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.



Ryan O'Byrne

Grade:

N/A

Smae with O'B. The 20 game take:
Not very much to judge him on, so I won't. He may thrive in Colorado and may yet be missed here.

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