Monday, December 14, 2009

Is Leclaire the Key to our Offense?

Who wants to talk about the loss to the Leafs? I don't. Spezza was awful (yep, awful), Picard's a defensive liability and I hate Phil Kessel. But then again, I don't want to talk about the game, so I'll stop.

Wait. I have to talk about it to introduce my point, but only from a macro level.

Watching the game, I was continuously frustrated about our lack of offence. Listening to the Leafs feed, don't let Joe Bowen fool you that the Leafs defence is good. Leafs fans will say they are, but I'm not buying what they're schlepping. Instead, I believe our offence is bad...lately. Despite our offensive talent, we haven't seemed to have offensive excitement in recent games. A few good chances a game but not the flash that I think we are capable of - especially from our top two lines.

But why oh why do we seem to be clutching our sticks tight? It's easy to blame Clouston. Maybe he needs to work on the PP or try another coloured shirt than purple or orange, or is it violet and rust? Does he have a closet of those shirts? I digress. You could blame our D men for not being super good, but that's too easy and ruins my point. But I believe there is a strong link between our offence and our goaltending.

A few posts ago, I compared Elliot to having effective stats. And at the time, I wasn't wrong. And before the BE Keeper lovers set the stingers on me, I'm not here to rag on Elliot. But I am using stats that aren't in his favour. I must point out now that there are flaws in my argument. My stats are not in depth but are from a bird's eye view. This isn't golden but I'm not grasping at straws either. This is valid. Bare with me.

Before Snoopy was injured (and including the game that he was freaksihly injured), Ottawa was 12-9*, with 66 goals in 21 games.

After Snoopy was injured (not including the game that he was freakishly injured), Ottawa is 4-7*, with 26 goals in 11 games.

*Stats don't include OT wins

So what?

Goals per game with Snoopy = 3.14
Goals per game sans Snoopy = 2.36

I'm no mathmagician, but in the world of averages, this is crucial. With Leclaire healthy (I realize he wasn't always in net) Ottawa was averaging nearly a goal a game more than they are with Elliot at the reigns. Since his injury, we've only scored 4 goals in 2 games (and that's our goal maximum) twice - and that was against the lowly Hurricanes and Ducks.

With Leclaire healthy, we all saw a team that was willing to take offensive risks, rushes and chances but could rely on a guy who could make big stops and win games. We saw a more confident team with some flair and swagger. A winning team! Now, with every game Elliot plays, we appear to be less and less of a threat on the scoreboard. To me, this is a team that is well aware that a 2nd stringer is in net and are playing like it. A team that is gripping their sticks too tight and playing without a safety net. And yes, a losing team.

I like Elliot, I do, but as a back up. I just hope this is Leclaire's only injury of the season. If not, our boys need to play a little more desparate and let our keeper do his best to do his job. Hopefully when Snoopy returns, our team get exhale a little and focus on scoring more than the chance of getting scored against.

3.14 to 2.36. Ouch. We need more offence if we're going to stay in the playoff hunt. Confidence in goaltending = confidence in scoring. Am I wrong? Let's hear you. Or am I right? Then I really want to hear you!

Aaaaaaaaaand go!


duff said...

I think you make a valid point here, and I'm not just saying that because we're co-bloggers! I remember how bad we were at breaking out of the zone during the Gerbage era. We attributed that a lot to the fact that when you don't have confidence in your goalie, forwards have to hang back in the zone a few extra moments. It slows down or stalls the breakout and yes, really hurts our offence.

Come back, Snoopy!

Anonymous said...

Well said. I noticed our D didn't have confidence in our goalie tonight and it really hurt our breakouts.

Anonymous said...

Having solid and confident goaltending leads to confident and solid offence
this isn't news...

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pynch said...

Anon 9:47 makes a good point.

As for Anon 10:29 - yes, I realize this isn't an incredible new concept. However, my point is that despite offensive depth, Ottawa's scoring is reliant on their goaltending. They do not have the firepower to play fearless like they used to, or like some other teams do. Instead, confidence is down across the team. Hopefully Snoopy brings his quiet swagger than can positively affect the forwards.

Let's just hope Spezza's our only casualty for the next 8 weeks.

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