Vulgar Opinons: Centers, A Different Perspective
I realize that foremost among this team’s problems is that it simply cannot score enough goals to win in the National Hockey League. So looking at anything other than improving the offense is kind of foolish, I understand. But something occurred to me tonight that causes me to think in a different direction.
Right now the centers are some amalgam of Jochen Hecht, Luke Adam, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Matt Ellis, Brad Boyes, and Ville Leino. Is that not the worst group of defensive centers in the NHL? Luke Adam is slow at times and poor positionally, Derek Roy plays lazy and stupid, Paul Gaustad hustles, but is slow, Matt Ellis is a fourth liner in all respects, and Brad Boyes and Ville Leino have been nothing short of a mess. You can bang on the offense as much as you want, and be pretty on point, but I’d bet that the production of that group holds up against the centers of most teams in the league.
Hockey is a fluid game with it’s many facets all intersecting with one another to the point where they almost become indistinguishable at times. Success truly does start in your own end and work it’s way outward. Now the defense won’t win any awards any time soon and the goaltending has been troublesome in spots, but I think the biggest issue with our defense has been a bunch of forwards that don’t want to play it. From that you get more time spent in your own end, more time chasing down pucks, more time blocking shots, and by the time you finally do leg the puck up the ice, you’ve got little left for the offensive side of things.
This is the point where I step back and say that I’m not a great hockey mind when it comes to analyzing the game. (Kind of why I write a statistics column.) But I think if you take a look at our forwards, especially our centers, it’s not offensive skill they’re lacking despite the meager goal production, it’s defensive positioning, and I think the goaltending and defense bail them out bigtime way too often.