Theme: “Consistency is the foundation of virtue.”
-- Francis Bacon
We have remarked from time to time about the amazing consistency of Alex Ovechkin. That is the manic consistency of scoring goals at a lofty pace. Shaone Morrisonn might be said to express a consistency of his own, that of a more understated sort. In five full seasons with the Caps, Morrisonn has been almost a metronome played at the pace of a slow stroll. Here is how his seasons have played out…
His ten-game segments show a similar modest consistency in offense…
…but there is the matter of his being minus-7 in his last 13 games. It was not an expected result on a team that was 9-1-3 in those 13 games. Then again, of the 35 goals scored against the Caps in those 13 games, Morrisonn was on the ice for 17 of them, 15 of those at even strength.
Morrisonn led Caps defensemen in penalty minutes this season (68). Of the 18 minor penalties he took, 12 of them were of the obstruction sort (holding the stick, hooking, interference, tripping, holding).
Morrisonn did perform well overall against those teams that made the playoffs this spring. In 31 games against the other 15 teams that made the playoffs, he finished 0-5-5, plus-7. However, it is worth noting that he was plus-5 against the Flyers and “even” against the other playoff teams from the Eastern Conference.
Morrison has been consistent over the years, but has he improved? Consider these 5-on-5 numbers (all from behindthenet.ca)…
-- Over the last three seasons his goals against/on ice-per 60 minutes increased from 2.35 in 2007-2008 to 2.39 in 2008-2009 to 2.96 in 2009-2010.
-- His plus/minus differential (on ice/off ice) per 60 minutes has gone from -0.34 in 2007-2008 to -0.13 in 2008-2009 to -1.98 in 2009-2010.
-- The quality of competition he faced went from 0.033 in 2007-2008 to -0.019 in 2008-2009 to -0.001 in 2009-2010.
And looking at the same numbers at 4-on-5…
-- Over the last three seasons his goals against/on ice-per 60 minutes decreased from 7.04 in 2007-2008 to 7.01 in 2008-2009 to 6.19 in 2009-2010.
-- His plus/minus differential (on ice/off ice) per 60 minutes has gone from -4.22 in 2007-2008 to -4.80 in 2008-2009 to -6.45 in 2009-2010.
-- The quality of competition he faced went from -0.239 in 2007-2008 to +0.055 in 2008-2009 to -0.054 in 2009-2010.
The progress of his performance has been somewhat uneven – somewhat better in penalty killing, somewhat off at 5-on-5.
The playoffs were a bit of a lost cause for Morrisonn, who missed two games to an injury in the seven-game set. One thing of particular note was that he had his minutes limited, more than a minute and a half less average ice time (15:54) than he averaged during the regular season (17:34), although his average number of shifts per game was almost unchanged (22.8 to 22.4). Some of that ice time might have been the effect of the emergence of John Carlson. Only two Caps defensemen averaged more than 20 minutes a night in the regular season – Mike Green and Tom Poti. Carlson’s getting more than 20 minutes a game in the Montreal series, in addition to that of Green and Poti, likely chopped a bit into Morrisonn’s time.
This is a crossroads summer for Morrisonn. In his five seasons (plus three games) with the Caps, he signed four contracts as a restricted free agent (August 2005, July 2006, July 2008, and July 2009), once as a product of arbitration. Now, he is an unrestricted free agent, and he is being pushed on the roster by youngsters Carlson and Karl Alzner. At 27, Morrisonn is entering what should be the prime of his career, but his consistency over the past several years suggests that has reached his niche as a stay-at-home defenseman who has a certain amount of grit to him (he played through a broken jaw and separated shoulder in the 2008 playoffs). Whether that is going to persuade the Caps to be the team to give him a raise is just one more contract issue Caps fans might be watching this summer. But for this year, it is a grade consistent with last year’s performance…