I have a bad habit of nitpicking the public statements of NHL general managers. I have a ton of respect for their talents, and I think their jobs are very difficult, but they’re also kind of terrible at articulating themselves– or maybe they’re just bad at saying things that are supported by facts.
Case in point: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan touting the playoff performance of Tim Gleason.
Quoted by Alex Prewitt in the Post, MacLellan patted himself on the back for picking up Tim Gleason at the deadline. (Emphasis added.)
“He’s a good teammate, provided us with a physical presence, filled in on the PK when Brooks [Orpik] or Karl [Alzner] got penalties,” MacLellan said. “I thought he did what we thought he would do and he played great against the fourth line of the Islanders.”
The part in bold is what Oz from Buffy would call a “radical interpretation of the text” (season 3, episode 16, the second appearance of Wishverse Willow).
The Isles fourth line is Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, and Casey Cizikas. They are, frankly, too good to be a fourth line. I have a suspicion that Islanders coach Jack Capuano knows this and just wants to see how many coaches he can trick into playing their scrubs against them. In the seven-game playoff series against the Capitals, the Islanders fourth line was in the offensive zone so much they could have claimed squatters rights. Here’s how the shot attempts looked when Tim Gleason faced each player during 5v5, with the total possession at right.
|Player||Time||WSH Attempts||NYI Attempts||Possession|
Now, no one did particularly good against this line. Niskanen and Alzner were barely better than 50 percent, but Gleason was the worst.
At least he did better against that fourth line than he did against Johnny Boychuck (19 shot attempts to 53 , dear god, that was brutal), but there is no possible way one can characterize Gleason’s play against the fourth line as “great” unless the rest of that sentence goes “…when compared to my already alarmingly low expectations for the player.”
In MacLellan’s defense, New York’s fourth line scored on Gleason just once: in game two, when Grubauer was in net. But if you wanted to say that, the correct phrasing would be “Braden Holtby played great against the fourth line of the Islanders while my deadline pick-up got repeatedly posterized.”
Again, this is a nitpick. I’m throwing spitballs from the back of class here, and I know it. Then again, we’re heading into free agency, when the Capitals will let Mike Green go without a new contract. Green, they might say, failed to produce goals in 14 playoff games. Well, yeah. Look at his D partner.
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