Theme: “Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.”
When Jason Chimera came to the Caps from Columbus in a trade for Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina in December 2009, he had averaged 14 goals and 16 assists, along with a minus-3, per 82 games in a career that spanned 461 games with the Blue Jackets and the Edmonton Oilers. In 39 games with the Caps after the trade, he outperformed his average, recording seven goals and ten assists while posting a plus-6. He made fans with a crusty style (52 hits that was good for seventh among Caps forwards, despite playing in only 39 games) that was matched to a set of wheels that made him one of the fastest skaters in the league.
2010-2011 was something of a different story for Chimera. Three things characterized his game with the Caps in this past season. First, there was an inconsistency in his results. Looking at his ten-game splits, his scoring was a bit up and down, but imbedded in those numbers is the fact that he had five, six, seven, and fourteen game streaks in which he did not record a point. And what’s more, his plus-minus numbers were all over the place, twice recording a minus-4 in a ten-game split, twice recording a plus-2. The overall splits went like this:
Second, there were defensive issues with Chimera this year in this respect. He had the worst plus-minus of any Capitals skater (-10, compared to defenseman Tyler Sloan’s minus-6). Among all Caps forwards playing in at least 20 games, he had the second worst goals against/on ice per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (2.61). Only Mathieu Perreault, a player with his own defensive issues to address, was worse (2.62). He had the worst plus-minus per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (-0.51) of all Caps forwards. Chimera and Jay Beagle were the only Caps forwards to have a differential between plus/minus on ice and plus/minus off ice at 5-on-5 that was greater the -1.00 goal. And given that Chimera generally faced weaker competition than his forward teammates – only Perreault and Eric Fehr faced weaker competition among forwards who played with the Caps all season – there would appear to be defensive issues that needed to be addressed (numbers from behindthenet.ca).
The third thing that characterized his game was an inability to finish. Caps fans might remember Mike Grier, a hard working player who would have many scoring chances of his own making, but who had an inability to finish. Chimera is perhaps a speedier version of Grier. His 6.2 percent shooting percentage was the second worst of his career (5.1 percent with Edmonton in 2003-2004). That might be an odd result in that in his seven previous seasons, Chimera recorded shooting percentages of 15.6, 13.4, and 9.9 percent. In his 39 games with the Caps last season he had a 10.3 percent shooting percentage. His overall shooting percentage of 9.5 percent over his career coming into this season might have had one scratching their head over his finish in this statistic this season. Overall, though, his numbers sank compared to last season (last season's numbers including those he recorded with Columbus):
Odd Chimera Fact… Plus-1 on the road, minus-11 at Verizon Center.
Game to Remember… March 31, 2011. It never hurts to remind one’s former team what they miss. Jason Chimera did that in grand style in a late regular-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He assisted on the Caps’ first goal, scored in the game’s second minute by John Carlson. After the teams traded goals to get to the end of regulation tied at three goals apiece, Chimera ended it when he, Brooks Laich, and Carlson broke in on Columbus on a three-on-two rush. Carlson carried the puck inside the blue line and held up to feed Brooks Laich coming down the middle. Laich backed off the defense and wristed the puck toward the Columbus net. The puck was deflected by Blue Jacket defenseman (and former Cap) Sami Lepisto onto the stick of Chimera, camped at the right post. Chimera had only to bunt the puck into the open net behind goalie Steve Mason, and the Caps had a 4-3 overtime win.
Game to Forget… February 25, 2011. In a 6-0 rout at the hands of the New York Rangers, Chimera dropped the gloves with Michael Sauer barely two minutes into the game. The Rangers must have found the episode annoying, for they abused the Caps often after that with a pair of goals in each of the three periods. Meanwhile, Chimera played only 9:26, recorded one shot on goal, and had a pair of giveaways in going a minus-2.
Post Season… Not awful, in that he had a pair of goals and a pair of assists in nine games. But his effort in the last of those nine games was rather brutal. In 13 minutes and change, no shots on goal, two giveaways, and a minus-2, part of a team-wide “quick and quiet” exit as the Caps were swept in Game 4 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3.
In the end, Chimera had an inconsistent season. His scoring was consistent with his career averages in the first half, but dropped some in the second half. His plus-minus was all over the map in his ten-game splits, and the drill-down numbers indicated wider issues with his defense. He showed an inability to finish consistently, and the question there was whether it was a blip (given his history of shooting percentages) or if he didn’t have the softest hands on the squad.
It was a somewhat disappointing year for a player who might have been slotted as a solid third liner when the season was dawning, but one who was getting fourth-line minutes (except for the odd turn on the power play) as the season was winding down. It seemed as if there were just too many imperfections across his game this past season to justify a bigger role.
(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)