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Friday, August 10, 2007

Analyzing the Team: Defense

By Latrappe and Matt

Andrew Alberts: Was solid last season and his game is getting better and better. He's not afraid to hit and he's more reliable in the defensive zone. Playing with Z had a great impact of his play. I fully expect to see Alberts become a solid player for the B's this year.

Alberts matured a lot this season, racking up solid minutes and proving himself as a top 4 guy on the team. He signed a 2 year/2.5 million dollar deal this summer which shows the B's have him in their plans for the future. He is a defensive defenseman and will rarely make bad choices. Expect his game to go to the next level.

Zdeno Chara: Big Z had a very ordinary season last year. He was not that bad considering the fact that he was not able to play his game. He logged a ton of minutes, for the first time of his career, and that workload had an impact on his game; especially in the last minutes of the game. Still, the impact of big Z, on Alberts's game, should not be overlooked. Look for Chara to the captain of this D.

Z had a tough time last season, which can largely be contributed to Dave Lewis, now the ex-coach. Chara did, overall, have a nice point production, and logged a lot of minutes. He is clearly the number 1 defenseman on the team. Chara did make a handful of mistakes, but hopefully which the defense a year older, that will change. Look for Chara to likely set the screen on the PP. Many fans we dissappointed with last season's Chara, but look for the real Chara this season. We also notice that almost every defenseman Chara played with, they were better, whether it be Redden in Ottawa, Lashoff, Stuart, or Alberts in Boston.

Andrew Ference: Good speed and decisions making. Ference is very reliable in the defensive zone and he rarely puts himself in a bad position. According to reports, he's a very good team player and I expect Julien to give him a larger role on this blueline next year. A very good return from the Stuart trade.

Ference is one of the more underrated defenseman on the team. He is overall very sound and can score and play great defense. I found him to be the best defenseman on the team last season. He comes at a reasonable price, 1.4 million for the next 3 seasons, and can contribute on all parts of the ice. PP, PK and even-strength he can do it all. Ference, like Latrappe said, is a team player. I look at him as a top 4 on the team. By getting a full season to watch him, we can appreciate him more.

Aaron Ward: Has the experience and the leadership but I'm not sure about his adjustements to the new NHL. When I looked his game, last year, he looked slow and prone to penalties. Granted that experience and leadership are priceless, but if we look at his contribution versus his salary, Ward could be a part of a trade, especially if you consider that Lashoff is in the fold.

Ward may not live up to his salary, but I will say that the B's D is a little young, and having a veteran with Chara will help. Ward may be a scape-goat for B's fans, but he is a nice stay at home defenseman that makes some great defensive plays. He is also not afraid to drop the gloves. Ward should provide a nice season for the B's, and if they do fall out of contention, expect him to be dealt.

Mark Stuart: Young stay-at-home D who likes to hit. I must admit that I was impressed by his game last year; especially in the defensive zone. Stuart has solid potential and can be a very good player for the B's for many years to come. Stuart reminds me, a bit, the way Don Sweeney was playing. My only worry: Can Stuart stay healthy?

Arugably the most NHL-ready prospect on the B's D, he is why they didn't go after D in the UFA market. He will likely make the club this season as the 6th defenseman. He should make the team over Matt Lashoff. He played very well last season in his limited time, and not for injury, would have likely made the team. Expect a great rookie season from Mark.

Matt Lashoff: Very, very close to the NHL. Lashoff can be the smooth skating and PP D-man the B's are looking for. During his stint in Boston, Lashoff was -6 and half of this stat was taken in the Ottawa game where he had to handle an enormous workload. His pairing with Chara was a success and he didn't looked foolish at all, on the ice. I'm ready to give him a spot on the roster but the politics around Wideman (Boyes trade) might award him another year in Providence.

I would slot him as the 7th defenseman barring injury. He is still very young, not even 20, so I don't want to rush him. He is a fluid skater and will be a solid NHLer. Him playing another season in Providence wouldn't be the end of the world either. Him and Mark Stuart will likely battle for a spot on the team.

Dennis Wideman: What I can say... PC sold him as a PP specialist but he doesn't have the footwork who comes with the responsibility. I thought that he was a bit "flatfooted" on the blue line. Wideman was a minus player since his last year, junior year, and we can say that he did not improve (from what I saw when he played in St-Louis) the defensive aspect of his game. It's good to produce on the PP but it doesn't help if you're -15 in 5 on 5 situation. Still, the jury is out on Wideman and the fact that PC signed to a 1 year contract tells me that the team is not that "high"on him.

At first I thought he sucked, but people have told me to wait a season and I will. He is only 24, so he is still young. He is an offensive defenseman, but I want to see him play a little more defense too. He was awful in his own zone, which is the last thing the B's need. Hopefully he will mature, if not, Matt Lashoff is waiting.

Bobby Allen: Nothing against the guy or his game. Allen is a profesionnal AHL'er who can fill a 7th D-man spot in the NHL. He might be victimised by the fact that Lashoff is better then him and his two ways contract. I don't see him making the club, this year.

The "Nathan Dempsey" of this season. He will the 7th-8th defenseman. He played well last season, but barring an injury to a starter, he will spend the season in the AHL. Allen is a great depth guy to have.


Blogger Mathew said...

Good article, I like the assessment of these players. I am anxious to see what McQuaid is capable of, because honestly I haven't seen him play at all...

8:35 PM  
Anonymous xpunkrockelvisx said...

I am really excited to see that there is some good young depth at the D spot. I really hope us knucklehead fans don't try to chase some youngsters out of town when they show that they need some more time to be big time difference makers. We have good talent in Providence, decent talent up at the big club. This year, we may make the playoffs, but this year should be seen as a development year all around.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

honestly i think aaron ward at 2.75 million is probably the dumbest contract signing in the history of the nhl, well behind zhamnov obviously.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If PC can convince the Coyotes to take Aaron Ward as throw-in for a deal involving Derek Morris I think the D would be significantly better. Might have to give up too much for him, though.

6:37 PM  

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