Area Man Assholishly Issues Letter Grade to Pro Athletes’ Performance: Defence & Goaltending

wiggum

Blech, this oughta be fun.
If there was a consensus criticism among Sens fans this season, it was probably that the main issue with the team was a porous defence which contributed to shaky goaltending. Well, I agree hypothetical summation of fan attitude! ALL IN ALL A GREAT YEAR! Thanks for reading and see ya in October! …oh you’re still here. Umm, well, might as well relive the memories of the year that was on defence and in net. Join me in the pits of helllllllllllllllllllllll or this blooooog (same thing).

Playah Grade Emotions
Erik Karlsson A Are there things to improve upon a bit? Sure, only really in that same way that any 23 year old (!) top pairing pro should be looking to improve their game. Was his D game up to where it was two seasons ago? No, but maybe the fact that he came back from having his Achilles slashed less than a year ago and came 4 points within his Norris season production overshadows that. Me, I’m still in ‘Thankful he can still play like Erik Karlsson’ mode. I’m going to put a dime on EK being a plus player next season. He led a team with one of the most productive forward lines in the NHL in points. Still hands down the best player on the team. Long live the king.
Marc Methot C+ Methot had a strong arrival in Ottawa anchoring the back end of a depleted line up and quickly won the favour of many with his fast skating and penchant for hip checking particularly disagreeable players (Kadri, Cosby, yes, Cosby).
On the heels of an Olympic camp invite this past summer, it seemed all but certain he was a lock for the top pairing with EK but in the end he had a bit of a down season. He got shuffled around and even scratched (which I didn’t really understand).
A down season on a team having a down season…oh gentle reader, what’s a girl to do..with his/her OPINIONS?
I sincerely hope for a return to his swift and steady ways in the futuristic year 2014-15 I almost don’t know what to outright call him out on. Hot take: Have a better season next season, you big galoot!
I think it would be unfair to say Methot in particular submarined a weak performance by the defence corps. He logged an average of nearly 22 mins per game (second only to Karlsson’s 89 mins per period) put up 23 points, scored some timely goals, took 117 shots (which were more than many forwards on the team could muster) and finished even in +/-. I’m not saying Methot was the linchpin he was expected to be but his was not the worst season by a Sens defenceman I’ve ever seen (See: Chris Phillips 2010-11 – 82GP, 9PTS, +/-: -35). I think he can turn it around. It could help him to be paired with Erik Karlsson regularly in place of Jared Cowen. Though I guess Cowen earned those top minutes what with his terrible, terrible season and all. Ugh.
Patrick Wiercioch Did not attend Performed reasonably well when given a rare shot at actually playing the game of hockey on the team that just signed him to a three year, one-way contract.
Biggest complaint: Needs to stop having sex with Paul MacLean’s wife if he’s going to see more ice time. Could get more time on the power play if he devotes his summer to not having sex with Paul MacLean’s wife.
Chris Phillips D+ Must…not…let…hatred…for…contract…influence…grade.
Yes, he used to be very good but, honestly, one of the worst defencemen on the team this year. If people are going to talk about Spezza setting a bad example as captain, can we talk about how there’s a very real possibility that the guy who leads the team in “shaking his head at himself while staring at the ice after getting a goal scored against” might be captain next year?
According to the numbers Phillips has a history of bouncing back after bad seasons. Sound Logic: Expect a pretty big bounce back then…at age 37? *jazz hands*
His 15 points are okay for his standard. Also led the team in high fives given after wins, though I’d love to see those numbers improve. He was actually producing a little bit when he was put on the power play because Paul MacLean hates my viewing experience. Something-something mentoring-schmentoring Cody Ceci. Ugh, this isn’t really the place to get into this but I can’t believe he was rewarded with a multi-year deal for his season. For a team that has to be careful with its dollars, I can’t fathom why the organization would think devoting a total of 4 million dollars for the next TWO seasons to Phillips is good value. What’s worse is his assistant captaincy, billion games of experience, community involvement, politics, infinity make him virtually impossible to scratch going forward. *Sens horn song* SENS ARMY PLEASE WELCOME YOUR 2015-2016 38 year oooooooold Chriiiiiiis Phiiiiiiilliiiiiiips *Cheers for some reason*
Jared Cowen F You held out for that? For THAT? That’s what you give us to look at after holding out? BAD GIANT SEINFELD. You and your novelty sized mouth guard are going to your giant bed without your stupid mega supper. If you’re an NHL player who’s over 6 foot 4 and 220lbs you get hella (ew, sorry) chances to redeem yourself. As a fan, I am pinning my hopes on how Cowen was pretty good, then got injured badly and was suddenly awful AND SO LOGIC DICTATES HE WILL HEAL AND SOMEHOW BECOME GOOD AGAIN (right?). This season wasn’t a “down” one like others experienced. No, with Cowen it was a setback in his development. We did it, Boo.
Eric Gryba B+ Turns out Eric Gryba is pretty alright. Nothing was more awesome than seeing good ol’ Grybes become a bit of an advanced stats darling for the Sens defence for a stretch this season. Curious to see if his good performance this season will actually end up making him the cherry on top of a big trade package. Never thought Gryba would even make the team back in the day. Always thought he would top out as “competent injury call up” Good on ya, Lasagna. I call Eric Gryba ‘Lasagna,’ it’s our thing…I don’t know, it’s silly. Let’s move on to the next thing…
Joe Corvo Drop D No truth to the rumors that Corvo is reforming his band Crazytown for Ozzfest 2014 but keep checking www.welcometoyourkarlssonyears.com in the coming weeks for any updates!
Cody Ceci A- Ehh, k, so I know he’s a first round pick and all but I thought Cecer Augustus was going to spend the next two years in Binghamton. As an Ottawa 67s fan, I spent years watching him dominate the barber pole blueline through good times and bad eventually becoming team captain. I was thrilled when Ottawa scooped him up in the draft at 15th.
The fact that he is not a very physical player for his large size made me assume Old Man Murray would make him spend a couple of seasons at Sir Luke Richardson’s Grit Academy. Turns out his talent and an endorsement from the BSens coach citing him as “one of the best players in the AHL” allowed him to fast track his graduation. Truth be told I’d have been happy to see him get one call up this season let alone 49 games. Expectations? Thoroughly surpassed.
Next year is a whole new situation for Ceci as defence is a damn tough job and now that he’s a lock to make the team, expectations will be different. Hopefully he doesn’t allow Chris Phillips’ uh….leadership to handcuff him too much. He was a little quiet production-wise given his average of over 17 mins of ice time but that might be me setting an unrealistic standard from his high flying OHL years. Still, I’d rather him play it safe while he continues to gain experience and branch out from there. Get’s an A just for saving the organization the prospect (and likely more) that they were just about to trade in exchange for what would have probably been very average D help before his call up.
Mark Borowiecki C+ It’s no secret by now that Mark Borowiecki looks like a ninja turtle. Was decent in his call up. Glad he made up for that own goal as that shit happens but it would have been be a really bad impression to leave on the season. By tying Matt Kassian in goals, Boro will get the benefit of starting off his one-way deal (tugs collar) fresh. Really wanted him to finish the year with more points than Kassian…but there are dreams that cannot be.
Craig Anderson C+ Andy, Andy, Andy. I didn’t expect you to be the monster that you were last year but damn boy you had some mo-ments of being a shadow of yourself. I’ve gone over this ad nauseum this season but one last time, as our man Steve texted me during a particularly rough game, “Why the hell can’t Anderson stop the first 10 shots of the game?”
Steve and I started paying attention to this and oooo boy I kind of wish we didn’t. He went a serious stretch without keeping pucks out before the magic number 10. Even in wins. As a Sens fan, I feel I have a sad fondness for the notion that teams play better when they trust their goalie. I don’t think Anderson instilled that confidence this year. Was he hung out to dry a lot? Often! Is goaltender the most difficult job in hockey? Ahhhhh yeah. What irks me though is that Andy’s whole strength since he arrived here was that he was the first Sens goalie in ages who allowed the team to play bravely in front of him. He could compensate for their mistakes a little. It’s not a particularly attainable model but I think he lost some of that infectious confidence this season. He showed flashes of the brilliant Andy we know and love. He’ll always able to show those flashes because he’s a really good goalie. We’ve seen his capacity to be a great, consistent goalie though. He has to get back somewhere near that place if the team as a whole is going to go anywhere. It’s telling that he turned around his season toward back half and still only salvaged his GAA to an even 3.00. Maintained reputation as “a more hyped up interview than Robin Williams” for 3rd consecutive season which is worth something.
Robin Lehner C+ This season had to be a humbling one for the “Lehner would have stopped that” crowd. He was always lurking in the background, one blood sacrifice away from stealing Anderson’s job but good. His three game winning streak after an unsuccessful road trip only solidified this pro-Lehner line of thinking. Why can’t Andy win three in a row? Then Anderson got hurt (again) and it was Lehner time, full time! 😉 Aaand turns out he’s 22 years old. Basically a zygote as far as goalies go. What’s encouraging is that his struggles are pretty normal. That so many of us believed in Lehner’s inevitable usurping of the starter job is just a testament to how ahead of the development curve he was. Robin’s attitude appears to have really improved and it seems he has embraced the role of student over heir apparent. This will only help him.
Robin put up some noble losing efforts this year particularly early on routinely facing 40 to a completely unacceptable 50 shots a game. He also had some simply god awful performances (I don’t even think I need to point out which games…pick your own favorite!). Either way, he finished the season with a losing record. Something no goalie would be proud of.
Like with Anderson, it must be considered that he played behind a porous defence and spent too much time behind a short handed team to succeed. On the other hand, hey, it’s a harsh world and if Ryan Miller can put up a 2.72GAA and .923 save percentage behind the Buffalo Sabres…you gotta do better than that on a middling squad like the Senators. Still love / am terrified of him. Have a super duper off-season and may many goats perish in the name of your player development. I still believe the hour of purification is at hand.

 

2 thoughts on “Area Man Assholishly Issues Letter Grade to Pro Athletes’ Performance: Defence & Goaltending

  1. Oh Lehner. The fact that he just seemed so much more mature and ~at peace with himself~ this season makes me feel like those 82 games weren’t… a… complete… waste??? IDK okay being a Sens fan I have to get SOMETHING good out of all those months I spent in angst (see: https://storify.com/yahongc/being-a-sens-fan-one-word-lessons). Also maybe my opinion’s skewed b/c I’ve been writing some fanfic involving him — AHEM sorry I’m commenting on a post right. I think it’s awesome that you watched Ceci play before it was #hip! Any idea on his ceiling? I’ve heard that he could be an offensive threat but I didn’t really see that this season, and sometimes that means the management won’t give him any more icetime than Gryba… who was, I agree, definitely better this season. Hadn’t imagined he could do it, so I guess that’s some optimism for next season — Cowen can’t possibly improve less than Gryba did (I hope???). Also an important Q: I thought Zibby was making the love to Coach’s partner, not Wiercioch? Either way, I’m still worried for our young guns. That massive age gap between 24 and 37 (i.e. Gryba & Phillips) isn’t going to go away by itself. 😦

    • Hi Y,
      It’s not for everyone but I love going to OHL games. You get to see “The Stars of Tomorrow with the Beers of Today”. Before I share my LEGENDARY opinion on Cody Ceci’s ceiling, I should disclose that since there are only a handful of teams in the OHL that typically boast NHL stars of the future, that you ending up see over and over again two things tend to happen:
      1. The guys that are the big stars tend to really dominate which can obscure what their pro ceiling might be. For every Jon Tavares there is a Cory Locke
      2. You develop biases toward players over time.

      Some examples:
      – I probably have a higher opinion of Shane Prince than most b/c I’ve seen do stuff like score a hat trick in one period and watched him put up like 90 points per year. He’s doing well in the AHL but I don’t know, he is pretty small and he seems like a bit of a fringe prospect in the organization. You never know. I’ll admit I’m really rooting for the guy.
      – I think Malcolm Subban sucks. I never saw him play a good game (see also: Shane Prince scoring hat trick on him in first period) for Belleville and am baffled why he was taken in the 1st round but that’s just me basing my opinion on games I saw him play against Ottawa only. He’s probably really good (hopefully not Boston doesn’t need anymore good goalies thank you).
      – Steve and I watched a game where Gabriel Landeskog didn’t even sit down between most of his shifts and we subsequently developed less than healthy levels of adoration for him.

      Also to be noted is that roles change with different leagues. Corey Cowick was a straight up power forward on the 67’s playing against other teenagers. Now that he’s developing as a pro you see that he likely tops out as an energy line guy like Chris Neil or something.

      What was I not talking about? Oh yes, Cody Ceci.
      So Ceci was one of those guys who was always like a 5 inches taller than most of the other players on the ice which always gives one the man among boys look. That said, he’s an excellent skater who’s smart with the puck and in his last year on a brutal 67s team he played in all situations constantly. He showed he can play a ton of minutes that season. He’s quite big but rarely uses his size which i think caused him drop down a bit in the draft (advantage Sens). He possesses a great shot as you saw a couple of times this year. I think his ideal top out is an understated but productive slick defenceman who can play big minutes a la Jay Bouwmeester (again IDEALLY). At worst he’s a very skilled bottom 4 guy but I have high hopes considering how quickly he managed to make the jump to the NHL. I think it’s great that he’s being eased in to the big league.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s