Early this morning, Mike Vogel broke the news that the Caps reassigned forwards Jay Beagle, Andrew Gordon and Mathieu Perreault to AHL Hershey. Then during Media Day, Bruce Boudreau stated that he thought Marcus Johansson had more defensive upside than Perreault to try and explain why the French-Canadian was sent down over the Swede. I am far from a Perreault supporter, so you know this is coming from the numbers heart.
Looking at the pre-season stats of MJ90 and MP85, do they really show MJ90 is better defensively?
If we go by conventional stats then yes: MJ90 was a +5 in 5 games played with 0 Goals and 4 assists while MP85 was an even player with 1 goal and 1 assist in 5 games. However this is RMNB and we are anything but conventional, so let’s take a look at scoring chances.
A scoring chance is a shot directed at net – an actual goal scored, a shot on goal or a missed shot – and if we look at scoring chance differential we get a completely different story.
Both pivot hopefuls played roughly the same amount of time in the preseason: MJ90 63.5 minutes, MP85 60.4 minutes. MP85 was on the ice for 55 scoring chances for and 53 against, while MJ90 was outchanced 53 to 37 when on the ice. In addition, the Caps were outchanced in 4 out of his 5 games – including a -14 clunker – when he was on the ice. Last time I checked, defense meant keeping the puck away from your own net.
MP85 was outchanced in only 2 of his 5 games but never worse than a -5. Some of that can be attributed to MP85 spending 32.55% of his 5v5 time with Knuble and Ovechkin – Backstrom’s first line scoring threats. Some of it could be chemistry. Some of it could be his AHL/NHL experience. All of it is better than MJ90′s on-ice numbers.
This brings up a question: If MP85 was a legitimate 3rd line center candidate, why not see how he would do with players he would see regular time with? MJ90 spent most of his 5v5 time with Andrew Gordon and Matt Hendricks – more realistic linemates before RMNB’s favorite blogger was sent down through waivers.
So is MJ90 better defensively? Too soon to tell, but to this Corsi-aware blogger it looks like MP85 was sent down because he could be and not because he is an inferior defensive player.