Theme: “53 to block”
If Quintin Laing was a square on the game show, “Hollywood Squares,” no doubt you’d hear that a lot. For it is what Laing brings to the game – an uncanny ability to throw himself in front of speeding pucks. His statistics over 39 games do not leap off the page…
By any measure, he is a player who is likely to have to scratch and claw for a roster spot at the NHL level. So, he does what he can, and what he can do is block shots. Among forwards, Laing finished 23rd in the league in blocked shots. But here is the amazing statistic – among the top 300 forwards in blocked shots, Laing was one of two to average more than one blocked shot per game, and his 1.33 blocked shots-per-game led all forwards among the top 300 in total blocked shots (the Blues’ Ryan Johnson deserves a nod here, finishing .004 blocked shots-per-game behind Laing…it really is a small group).
Laing also complemented that aspect of his game with some otherwise physical play, averaging 1.26 hits per game, seventh on the team and fifth among forwards (late-season acquisition Matt Cooke and injured Chris Clark not among those counted here, each having played fewer than 20 games with the Caps this season).
Unfortunately, Laing’s contributions are not as frequent at the other end of the ice. He was 1-5-6, +4 in his 39 games was the worst points-per-game average among all Caps forwards not named “Pettinger” (“Brashear,” too, but his role is unique on this club), as was his shooting percentage (one goal on 48 shots for 2.1 percent). However, his lone goal was a game-winner – December 10th in a 3-2 win over New Jersey. Seeing as how the margin for the Caps making the playoffs was two points, that goal is as important as any in this season.
As noted above, Laing is likely to be one of those guys who is always going to struggle to stick on an NHL roster, especially on a contending team. It is worth noting that Laing played in only four games after the trading deadline, when the Caps upgraded their forwards with Sergei Fedorov and Matt Cooke. Of Laing, whose effort cannot be slighted, it might be said that one wishes his talent matched that effort -- he'd be one helluva player.
Laing is very good at one aspect of the game (blocked shots), decent at another (hits), but almost non-existent in others (scoring, passing). In grading, that makes for an A in one class, perhaps a B in another…and iffy grades for the rest of the “semester,” but some credit for the level of effort applied. It is with that in mind that for Laing, he grades out at…