Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never loseThose were the days, oh yes those were the days
-- Mary Hopkin
Those were the days. By the time the 2011-2012 season was five games old, Jason Chimera had four goals. After 26 games he had 11 goals, surpassing his entire total for the 2010-2011 season (10). When the season was over he had the first 20-goal season of his career, five of those tallies being game-winners.
In 2012-2013 Chimera would not match that five-game goal total, let alone come close to his career high or even his career average (15 goals per 82 games). No, three goals would be all Chimera would record for the 2012-2013 season, the first of them not coming until Game 28 against Buffalo. His others came against similar also-rans in the standings – Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. Among 373 qualifying players, Chimera finished 358th of 373 players in shooting percentage. Only six forwards finished lower than Chimera’s 3.3 percent shooting on 92 shots.
What made his shooting statistics even more bizarre is that starting with that first goal of the season against Buffalo in Game 28, he shot to a respectable 9.7 percent over his last 19 games. After all, he shot 9.8 percent in 2011-2012 when he recorded that 20-goal season. But his shooting dried up – 31 shots in those last 19 games.
That is what made the 2011-2012 the real aberration here. Bracket that season with the one preceding and the one following, and you see that in 2010-2011 he averaged 2.0 shots per game and 2.0 shots per game in 2012-2013. In his career season, he averaged 2.50 shots per game. This season, it was not that Chimera was not getting his shots, at least in the context of his career production (2.0 shots per game coming into this season). He simply was not converting them.
He was also tough on his linemates with that sort of offensive production. He spent most of his 5-on-5 ice time skating with Joel Ward and Mathieu Perreault, both of whom did significantly better in terms of team goals scored for per 20 minutes (GF20 in stats.hockeyanalysis.com parlance). Ward’s production value was 0.747 when skating with Chimera, 1.152 when apart. For Perreault, it was 0.835 with Chimera, 1.276 when apart.
At least with Perreault he did enjoy his own best production – all three of his goals on the season were scored with Perreault centering him. But Eric Fehr, with whom Chimera scored two of his three goals, enjoyed better team production apart that with Chimera – an 0.859 GF20 value with Chimera at 5-on-5, 1.188 when apart. There was not a single Capital forward who had a better GF20 value at 5-on-5 with Chimera than he had when apart.
If he is not scoring, was he contributing in other ways? Well, among Caps forwards only four were on ice for more even strength goals, and those were the big offensive guns –Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, and Mike Ribeiro. Neither was he a penalty-killer, what with only Ovechkin, Perreault, and Wojtek Wolski getting less penalty-killing ice time per game (20 games minimum). In fact, Chimera spent less time on special teams (21 seconds per game) than any Capital forward (20 games minimum).
Game to remember… April 23rd vs. Winnipeg. On a night when the Caps would clinch their last Southeast Division title, Chimera had his second two-point game of the season. The first came on a nice bit of work between Chimera and Mathieu Perreault. Mike Green dumped the puck in the Jet’s end, and Perreault beat defenseman Ron Hainsey to the puck, poking it into the corner to the waiting Chimera. From the corner, Chimera returned the puck to Perreault below the goal line, then made a beeline for the Winnipeg net. Perreault found Chimera at the side of the cage to the right of goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Chimera got two whacks at the puck, the first stopped by Pavelec’ pad, but the second one finding the back of the net. Chimera added an assist on what would be the game-winning goal by Perreault, giving him a two-point night and the Caps another division crown.
Game to Forget… February 12th at Florida. Start the game as the left wing on the top line but skate a total of ten shifts, three of which end in goals for the opposition – their first three goals of the game, you do not so much as attempt a shot, and you get only one shift after the second period in what would be an overtime game in which you skate a total of 5:43 in ice time, yeah, that would be a game to forget.
Post-Season… The shots did not come early for Chimera in the first-round season against the New York Rangers, only five over Games 1-4, but he was productive – 1-2-3, plus-2 in those games. But then, just like the rest of the club, he vanished in Games 5-7. He did not record a point, despite ten shots on goal over those three games. It probably says enough about the Caps that Chimera finished tied for third in total points for the Caps and was tied for the lead in goals scored with eight teammates, all with one apiece.
In the end…
Jason Chimera came into this season almost certainly not as productive a player as his 2011-2012 numbers might suggest, but now we are left to wonder if he is as unproductive as his 2012-2013 numbers look. That is an important question to consider for the 2013-2014 season, the last for Chimera under his current contract ($1.75 million salary cap hit). The easy answer is that he is somewhere in-between the last two seasons. But if he is closer to his three-goal total for this year than his 20-goal total in 2012-2013, it will be a lot of money to sink into a player who could end up a fourth-liner on most nights, especially one who is not called upon to participate on special teams. The Caps would probably like to have him provide the stable, regular 15-goal or so production per 82 games that he posted over his first 11 seasons. But at the age of 34, is that a reasonable expectation?
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