Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Embracing the Thump

Porty Tweeted this Morning the a deal is almost done with
Matt Calvert
For a great deal of the season last year, I spent quite a bit of time calmly discussing (i.e. whining about) the inability of our fourth line to contribute to overall puck possession, and thus team momentum during a particular game.  By puck possession I do not necessarily mean as measured by surrogate statistics, but by the line's ability to win battles along the boards when on the forecheck.  In 2013-14, in our run to the playoffs, our fourth line, lead by a relentless Derek MacKenzie was the group that Todd Richards would turn to when the team's back was against the wall.  Injuries, inexperience, and confusion of roles eliminated this tool from HCTR's tool box for much of the last season.  The 2015-16 season is already looking good in this regard with the free agent acquisition of Gregory Campbell to center the fourth line.

With Campbell, Matt Calvert, and Rene Bourque/Jared Boll looking like the composition of that line, it becomes a line to be reckoned with, and hopefully one that will create some match up problems for opposing coaches.  In 2013-14, with MacKenzie at the helm, this line would take the puck back behind the opposing goal tenders net, and play 'keep away' for full shifts, and the following line change would put a great deal of pressure on opposing players.  We are looking to regain that possession aspect for this coming year, and Campbell, Calvert and Bourque have enough scoring touch to chip in and help with the scoring.

I look forward to with keen interest in how this group performs, and look to see Calvert driving the play with his relentless forecheck, and Campbell and company jumping on the loose pucks as hapless defensemen attempt to get the clear {wipes drool off chin}.  If this line can generate this kind of action, then we have a good chance to have a really fun season.

With regards to Matt Calvert, I know he has played successfully higher up in our line up in the past.  I don't see the fourth line duty for Calvert as a demotion, I see it as pressure from the top of the line up by players like Saad and Clarkson that is pushing successful players into different roles.  In other words, it is a reflection of how good this team can be.  But on the nights when the legs aren't quite there, the play of the fourth line will need to drag the rest of the team into the fight.  This line's ability to do this is critical to the teams long term success this year.  And Matt Calvert's motor is where that action needs to start.  I'm pleased to see that a contract for Matt is nearly done.  It's looking like it is going to be a fun season.


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