Canada’s general manager, Mark Bergevin, went to the bazaar with little change this weekend. He got what he paid for. It doesn’t mean much.
Two defenders. John Merrill and Eric Gustafson. The former has no goals this season. The second did not play in April. Nothing to do with the virus. He was in good health, but the Philadelphia Flyers preferred to leave him on a bridge rather than on ice.
are you excited?
Phew. Beautiful face of Lent. As my kids do in front of bok choy … I get you. These acquisitions are not very exciting. I doubt it is enough to fill the loopholes that have plagued Canadians for two months. These are the same problems that led to Claude Julian’s dismissal and that continued, match after game.
Very ordinary special units.
The result: The Canadian remains a “middle team”, as Bergvin puts it. The club that will struggle to compete in the qualifiers with its three potential rivals in the first round – the Toronto Maple Leaves, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets. Moreover, the gap between the Hab and its competitors is widening. We can see it, night after night, by watching the matches. The impressions were confirmed when we analyzed the statistics of the four clubs.
Let’s analyze this together.
in the center
Regulation jewel, Nick Suzuki and Gisbury Kotaniemi, may one day be dominant. But that day has not come yet. Meanwhile, the Canadian central quartet is not a match for its competitors.
Objectives of the current centers *
Maple Leaves of Toronto: 52
Oilers d’Edmonton: 50
Winnipeg Jets: 34
Since the change of coach, Kotaniemi is playing better. But he and Suzuki only have three goals each. And this despite a lot of good playing time in the power game. It is clearly not enough. I’ll come back to that.
Fortunately, Philip Danault recovered. Since his new boss was appointed, he has had a +13 lead and has withstood a hat-trick against best in the division. It’s hard to imagine the Canadian without him next season. Moreover, he liked the acquisition of Eric Stahl. Veteran is better than Suzuki and Kotanieni in the showdown circuit, and will allow Dominic Ducharme not to tire Danault while starting out in the defensive zone.
In numerical superiority
Big problem under Julian and Kirk Muller. Only 10 goals in 90 minutes of tough play. Is it better under Ducharme and Alex Burrows? Yeah. But barely: 11 goals in 81 minutes. The results are much lower than those of its split rivals.
Superior digital targets
Oilers d’Edmonton: 35
Winnipeg Jets: 31
Maple Leaves of Toronto: 27
There are particularly successful players. Earlier this season, Suzuki suffered nearly an hour of idle without scoring a single point. Before the Monday match, Kotaniemi was knocked out in his last 32 minutes of tough play. Over the past month, Josh Anderson and Jonathan Darwin have barely moved the needle in such conditions. Bergevin indicated that Gustafsson could play a quarterback overload in the coming weeks.
Another bad news? You will notice that the Canadian competitors have a man edge. There is nothing for the fan of Habs which, of the four teams, are the wildest this season.
Execution in defense
Al-Kindi’s advocates sometimes seem slow. Or overwhelmed. Often the result is a penalty. To hold it. Or stumbled. Al-Kindi’s buttocks are regularly grasped. On the contrary, it causes few penalties to the opponent. Their differences this season speak of a lot.
Differentiation Punishment (Defenders) **
Oilers de Edmonton: – 2
Maple Leaves de Toronto: – 18
Winnipeg Jets: – 25
Canadian Montreal: – 33
** Penalties are collected minus penalties
Here, the acquisition of John Merrill and Eric Gustafson should make an impact. Gustafsson has never been punished this season. His penalty shootout difference is +2 greater than the penalty kick difference of all Canadians. Bergevin said Merrill was a “mobile defender”. It is therefore less likely to be behind the disc holder. The difference in penalty kicks – 2 is also very respectable, compared to the difference in penalty kicks (- 10), Ben Shiarot (- 9) and Brett Colak (- 6).
Another constant in recent matches is the number of costly turnovers the Canadians have caused. Saturday’s match against planes was a typical one. Remember the lovely pass from Jeff Petrie on the Paul Staunchen podium, while Jake Allen was out of his window.
These imp losses are not anecdotal. They are frequent. I know the statistics on the changes are highly contested by coaches. Because statisticians do not evaluate shifts consistently. Some are more generous than others. I realize there is a huge margin of error. Except when the gap between leaders in the division is more than 30%, there is clearly a problem.
Differential Rulers (Defenders) ***
Winnipeg Jets: – 129
Maple Leaves of Toronto: – 132
Oilers Dammonton: – 137
Canadian Montreal: – 195
*** The difference between the gain and the losses of the imp
Having Merrill on the list should allow Canadians to improve on this record. Bergfen said he is a patient and a responsible defender “moves the disc well”. The numbers confirm this: Merrill loses half the disc as much as Petri, Joel Edmundson or Alex Romanoff loses.
On the other hand, Gustafsson bears more risks. In the Flyers, he was the defender who lost the disc most often, depending on the minutes he played. Which certainly partly explains why he has watched all of his team’s matches this month from the top of the stands.
* * *
Coaches say it often: ‘The little things’ make a big difference. They are right. Merrill, Gustafson, and Staal will address some of the Canadians’ weaknesses. But it will be subtle. And insufficient for the Hab to get rid of papers, oil, or jets in the first run.
If the Canadian wants to play for the long haul this spring, the stars will have to rise. Let Weber find his directions. Let Suzuki and Kotaniemi explode. Petrie, Darwin and Anderson produced like the beginning of the season.
Above all, Carrie Price may return to his health.
* The stats do not take into account Monday night matches.