Another group have games have come and gone which gives us another opportunity to take a sample of how the scoring chance battle has been fought (and lost). As always, a big thank-you to Dennis for counting the scoring chances in each game. For those that have not yet checked out his work, you can do so here.
(For those unfamiliar with the metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed). The players are organized according to their jersey numbers.)
Games Forty-Two Through Fifty-One, January 13 to Febuary 5
Ethan Moreau, whipping boy extraordinaire, manages to have his best ten-game segment of the season here. Taking into consideration the fact that he's basically sat out two straight years prior to this season, it seems possible that this resurgence could be real. It's at least something to look for in the next ten games. I, for one, am cheering for him, because if he can actually round into good form against the secondary toughs, this team is in much better shape going forward.
Steve Staios is all kinds of awful. The Smid/Staios pairing is no better than the Strudwick/Staios pairing. If Staios gets elevated to the top four and we see a healthy dose of Smid/Strudwick on the third pairing it may provide some healthy insight into Steve's play. That said, both Smid/Staios and Strudwick/Staios had a good first ten games together, so Visnovsky will need to be out for twenty or thirty games to get a good read. The experiment is not worth it. Come back soon!
AVisnovsky's injury will give us an interesting look at quite a few players in the next ten-game segment. One of those is Grebeshkov. He and Visnovsky were again very good in this segment averaging +2 per game. Phenomenal numbers. If Grebeshkov can keep some semblance of that in tact with Visnovsky on the shelf it may necessitate a re-signing.
Horcoff's injury is no different, as now someone is going to be taking on the tough assignments. Just when Brodziak thought things could get no more difficult for him... That poor sap gets thrown under the bus in the press and on the ice. You'd think it would only be possible for one of those things to happen.
Dustin Penner. Seriously. The guy rarely has negative results and yet he's constantly smashed up for his effort level. What happened to the Dustin Penner that was in much better shape this training camp? A look back at Penner training camp quotes from management compared with his treatment thus far this season could prove enlightening. Regardless, Penner on the tough minutes line with Hemsky and center X would seem to be a must at this stage.
Gagner was put out for a few games and when he returned, his magic with Cole did not. The two of them are still playing better together than apart, but they are no longer a ridiculous force of soft-minute magic. In the one game they had with Potulny they were outchancing significantly and I'd love to see those three make up the soft-minute trio going forward. Alas, Robert Nilsson is blocking the way.
The call-ups all performed well in this segment. Reddox was shifted back in the lineup where he can hold his own and, lo and behold, he managed to break even. This guy should definitely not be getting a sniff at 1C with Horcoff down, given the returns at 1RW when Hemsky was out, but as a fourth line guy, he doesn't hurt you. As mentioned, Potulny succeeds in the soft minute role, but was getting pounded when on the fourth line with bangers. The solution seems to be staring the team in the face, but they've demoted him instead. Brule was also demoted after showing his best work of the season, although that may have more to do with the waiver restrictions than anything else.