Friday, March 7, 2008

Not What We Ordered

I want to make this clear. I have nothing against Brian Smolinski. I have never heard of him causing any trouble with his teammates or even his coach. He smiles a lot and seems like a nice guy. But when Bob Gainey was shopping for a shut-down centre with experience and some offensive upside to replace Radek Bonk last summer, he made an expensive purchase with a no-return policy in Smolinski.

Smolinski isn't a write-off as an NHLer. He's fine most nights as a fourth-line centre. Him and his linemates are often able to force the play in the opposing zone for long stretches, and they don't mind getting dirty in the corners.

Unfortunately, Smolinski and his linemates aren't only being asked to do what they do well. They're being asked to shut down the NHL's top lines and play a defensive game they don't have the talent to play.

Yes, defence is a talent. Carbonneau had it. Smolinski does not. This is why we see leads evaporate late in the third period. It's why the PK isn't as good as it was last year, and it's why the team gets hemmed in its own zone when the better opposing lines are on the ice.

Gainey can't return Smolinski now, or even trade him. Smolinski is a nice guy, but he's not the one we ordered.


Anonymous said...

SMolinski isnt on the team to provide scoring.

He's there to play shut down line, which he has been doing very well as of late. He hasnt hurt us in any way throughout the season, hes been doing what hes been asked to do. He's old, this may be his last year.

I dont think many of us were expecting him to provide more of a scoring touch than Bonk did.

Last night he went about 80% in the faceoff circle whereas Saku failed to break 40%. Maybe he's found a new role on the team?

Mike L said...

Umm, I believe you misread this article. I was trying to show how he was brought here to play a shutdown role and stop the other team’s top lines. Which he hasn’t done. I never said anything about him scoring goals. I may have been unclear but my intended focus was how he was brought to win face-offs and shut down the other team. He is only about 50% on face-offs for the year and is one of our worst +- players.

Anonymous said...

Ever since Smolinski came back from injury hes been doing just fine.

you gotta learn to take some criticism my friend!

Mike L said...

Since Smolinski returned he has been playing ok, but not great. He is flying by and not doing anything important, nor anything stupid so no one notices him really. However he is not doing his main purpose which is stopping the other team’s offensive lines.

I believe that I took your criticism. I didn't offend you nor did I say that you were wrong; rather I merely proposed that you didn't understand the focus of the post.

Anyways, at this site our posts are merely our opinions and everyone has their own. So take it as it is and enjoy.

HabsFan said...

That is so true. Smolinski is not what Gainey wanted. I was really hoping that we would get someone like fedorov at the tdd.

And to habs: what are you talknig about. hes been horrible as the shutdown line. he constantly allows the opposing team to just skate right by him and he NEVER pressures the puck carrier. agaisnt pheonix he had a good face percentage but most nights hes been in the 40's%

Anonymous said...

It may have been his main purpose at the start of the season, and he was doing that just fine.

Now, hes playing like our best faceoff man, he could be the guy we need down the stretch when we need to win a big faceoff in our own end.

Smolinski is the third best faceoff guy on our team at 49% on the season.

However, he has been winning his draws alot lately and maybe thats why Carbo insists on putting him in the dressing room.

+/- is a bull shit stat, it's very deceiving.

Mike L said...

I’m sorry but I don’t really understand your point. He’s playing like our best face-offs man at 49%. Firstly that’s horrible, secondly so what? There are 4 lines. 3rd best, that’s not great. Winning a face-off is 1 thing. Not playing great hockey is another. They do not intertwine and he does not need to weaker 1 for the other.

So again, I don’t really see your argument? If you’re arguing that he is in the lineup as a face-ff specialist then I guess that Gainey made a mistake with that one. 49% doesn’t really classify someone as a specialist.
With regards to the +/-, I strongly disagree with you on that. Although there are numerous factors that can affect it and I cannot be used to solely describe a player, it helps in evaluating a player.

Although we have numerous rookies that would benefit from taking the spots of aging veterans right now on the 4th line, the reason why we are keeping these vets is because they will show their true value in the playoffs. The experience that they have will drastically increase our chances of succeeding in the playoffs.

Mike L said...

Just to point out. Smolinski won 3 out of 9 face-offs (33%)