Mar 14, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Yannick Weber (68) skates with the puck against Ottawa Senators during the first period at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

Montreal Canadiens Defence Pairings: Part 2

Mar 14, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Yannick Weber (68) skates with the puck against Ottawa Senators during the first period at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

We continue our look at the Habs defensemen and how they worked as pairings which we started yesterday. There we saw the unbridled dominance of PK Subban and Josh Gorges together, their competence apart and the trio of Kaberle, Diaz and Emelin who provided more or less adequate yeoman services in a losing cause. Today we have a less pleasant offering, the breakdown of the dregs of the lineup.

Just like before, if you want to follow along at home, take a look at the handy chart:

Subban/Gorges Kaberle/Emelin/Diaz Weber/Campoli/Gill
Gill

-2

-7

2

Campoli

1

-9

5

Weber

2

-7

3

Markov

X

-5

X

St Denis

1

X

1

Spacek

1

-1

X

The Ugly: Campoli, Weber and Gill

As a group these three fit a general pattern. When one of the team’s top two studs are available they are fine, playing about even hockey. When they are together they are playing the easiest minutes possible for an NHL defender, so they do all right there. Its when they step up to play with one of the middle tier defensemen and get forced into second pairing minutes that they crash and burn and leave a lovely little explosion followed by the cratered fortunes of their hockey team.

Gill get rocked worse than most, but unlike the others he is a defensive specialist and tends to draw tougher situations like defensive zone draws and top opposing forwards. This season did re-establish that he’s only a third pairing defender and PK specialist. His turn as a shutdown defender last season was entirely on the broad shoulders of young Subban. Now that his two proteges (Subban and Gorges) play together instead of with him they are both more effective.

Campoli and Weber don’t have Gill’s excuses, although maybe they have some new ones to offer. Campoli was generally putrid and his -5 with Kaberle made the elder puckmover look worse than he is. Campoli has been a decent 3rd pairing defender before but in a season hampered by injuries, without much shelter and already having to much redundancy in defensively weak offensive defensemen Campoli brought nothing to the table but a warm body.

Weber’s first full NHL campaign took a turn for the bad. He was reasonably effective as a number 6 in 10-11, protected by the veteran Spacek. This year did not turn out so well. Shorn of effective veteran support and too often switched between 3rd right defence and 4th right wing, Weber had a brutal time. He may have been one of the worst defenders in the NHL by results, given how powder soft his minutes were. There should be hope for the young Swiss though, under 25 defensemen often stink but grow into effective players and he’s very effective in lower leagues. I wouldn’t count him out until he’s gone through a few more years.

The Barely Involved: Markov, St. Denis and Spacek

Spacek got traded early for Kaberle after initial injuries. This may have been a mistake. Spacek was a plus defender on two relatively weak 5 on 5 teams. He played butter soft 3rd pairing minutes in Carolina but beat his opponents in both shots and goals for and against there. His kind of steady, no frills, competent positional defence was sorely lacking in Montreal and his contract convienently expired this summer, freeing almost 4 million in cap space. Kaberle filled another need in terms of a PP quarterback so it wasn’t completely bad, but the trade worked out poorly for Montreal.

St. Denis showed some real reason to think he has an NHL future during his 17 callup games. He was about 12th in the teams defensive depth chart to start the year but showed far more reason to be in the lineup than the likes of Campoli and Weber. In a third pairing role, St. Denis presided over a stretch of ice time where the Canadiens were consistently winning. Only Subban and Gorges can also claim that. The CIS grad might have a future as a body for the third pairing.

Markov had a disappointing return to the NHL. His relCorsi was solid, +15 shot attempts relative to team average per 60 minutes, but that’s partially due to how dismal the Habs were in general at that point, his actual Corsi being dead even. Markov played exclusively with Emelin and while their possession stats were decent, they posted a -5 in 13 games. Markov is the principle hope that the Habs 2nd defensive pairing will recover, so better results are needed from him. In general he had good puck movement and possesion skills but had some bad defensive breakdowns and trouble picking apart opposing defences.

He did show a lot of his old skills and an understandable amount of rust after barely playing for 3 seasons, so I think there is cause to be cautiously optimistic where Markov is concerned.

 

The Master Charts

WOWY Goals For and Against

Subban

Gorges

Kaberle

Diaz

Emelin

Gill

Campoli

Weber

Total

Subban

x

21

Gorges

16

x

17

Kaberle

3

0

x

-2

Diaz

1

3

-1

x

-6

Emelin

-3

0

0

-3

x

-21

Gill

0

-2

x

-4

-3

x

-9

Campoli

1

0

-5

-1

-3

2

x

-3

Weber

0

2

0

0

-7

0

3

x

-2

 

WOWY Corsi% For and Against

Subban

Gorges

Kaberle

Diaz

Emelin

Gill

Campoli

Weber

Total

Subban

x

49.7

Gorges

49.6

x

48.0

Kaberle

61.1

42.9

x

47.0

Diaz

39.7

45.8

43.0

x

48.0

Emelin

45.4

48.2

50.1

49.3

x

48.2

Gill

47.6

27.8

x

48.5

46.9

x

47.1

Campoli

52.9

53.3

41.5

50.0

42.0

46.7

x

45.6

Weber

35.9

31.8

41.0

36.7

43.0

45.1

45.4

x

45.1

 

 

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Tags: Andrei Markov Frederic St. Denis Hal Gill Montreal Canadiens Yannick Weber

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