Entering the season, there were plenty of reasons to doubt if Jason Chimera could be a meaningful contributor. Save for the playoffs in which he look re-energized, 2014-15 was a lackluster season for the Ice Cheetah, spending time as both a healthy scratch and a fourth liner in Barry Trotz‘s first season behind the Caps’ bench. Combine that with this being Chimera’s second mediocre regular season over the previous three seasons (2013-14 being the exception) and Chimera now entering his age-36 season, many people, myself included, were skeptical of his ability to contribute in 2015-16
But somehow, someway, Chimera’s production has bounced back. There’s plenty of reasons to be suspicious of how sustainable this production is moving forward, but that doesn’t take away the 30 points Chimera has chipped in through the first 54 games.
While Chimera’s 5v5 production has been solid (his points per 60 is the second best he’s posted since coming to DC), it’s been Chimera’s power-play production driving his uptick. He’s already set a career high in goals (4), assists (5), and points (9).
Digging a little deeper, Chimera’s production this season with the man advantage becomes more impressive. Chimera was leading all NHL forwards in points per 60 on the power play for much of the season, but after a recent dry spell he’s plummeted all the way to third. Before the season, I would have taken 1000:1 odds on Chimera not being in the top 20 in power-play points per 60, so to say I’m shocked that he’s third this deep in the season would be an understatement.
(From War on Ice-current as of February 15)
Another nugget on how a 36-year-old, workaday third liner has been one of the most efficient producers on the power play, typically a time when the elite skill players shine: All five of his assists with the man advantage are primary assists, putting him behind only teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov among NHL forwards in primary assists per 60 on the power play.
Chimera has certainly benefited from the ice time with Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Kuznetsov has the primary assist on three of Chimmer’s four power-play goals and Ovechkin has scored three of the five goals he’s assisted on. So, the argument could be made that Chimera’s production has come from riding the coattails of elite linemates, but the flip side of that coin is that Chimera has been put in an opportunity to succeed and he’s done just that.
Over the past 16 games, Chimera has just one assist on the power play, and his 23.5 percent shooting percentage and 100% individual point percentage aren’t sustainable, but again, saying this doesn’t take away from what he’s accomplished this season.
What Chimera has accomplished this season is a bounce back in production in his age-36 season, something that should be recognized for both how rare and impressive it is.
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