Another set of ten games is in the books, this time without the services of Lubomir Visnovsky. As we will see, the results leave something to be desired. For those interested in finding where these results can be found on a game by game basis, Dennis has been tabulating them 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 Fifty-Two Through Sixty-One, February 7 to February 26:
Last time around I was very positive about Ethan Moreau and the potential of him progressing. Unfortunately - especially given recent developments - I cannot say the same about the last ten games. Ethan has been terrible. His -29 in this segment alone is worse than the season total of every forward except for Brodziak and Pisani. It's just really, really bad. For most of this segment he was on a line with Cogliano who also struggled mightily in this installment, posting a -13. Their most common linemate was Pouliot who went -10 in six games before finding the bench. Pisani's return resulted in a -5 in his only game back. That third line has been a problem all year and it doesn't look like it's getting any better.
That problem is compounded in this segment by the first line finding the doldrums. Both Hemsky and Horcoff were outchanced at EV significantly over this period. For Horcoff this is the third consecutive segment in which he's been outchanced, although this one was the most significant. Perhaps he has come back early from his injury? Given the way the third line has gone this year, the first line needs to be outchancing in order for this team to have a chance.
This brings us to Dustin Penner. You'd think that with Hemsky and Horcoff in the red that Penner would have followed them, but it just isn't the case. The guy lacks a certain je ne sais quoi (the pundits seem to like to cal it effort) because his results are the best among the forward both for this segment and on the season. In fact he is the only player on the whole team to both have a positive chance differential at EV and have at least one NHL point in his career. Do not trade this man.
With Visnovsky out I was hoping to see if Grebeshkov's numbers were a mirage. Unfortunately Grebeshkov was also injured which meant we got a chance to see Theo Peckham play some games and see if Smid and Staios can handle top four minutes. Peckham performed at about the same level as others have on that bottom pair while Smid and Staios were brutal in a top four role. People continue to pump up Smid as improving this year, but I'm just not so sure the degree of improvement is all that much. In his stint with top four minutes he went -23 leaving him a tidy -48 on the season in 45 games. It doesn't exactly scream "I'm ready!" Still, he's young and patience is required. He may turn the corner (but he hasn't yet).
In summary, this segment teaches us that (1) we should be thankful for Roloson keeping us afloat and (2) we are a well below-average team without Visnovsky.