Thursday, July 29, 2010

...In A Flash

I think it's safe to say that there are two Washington Capitals players that confuse and frustrate fans more than any others: Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr (sorry #28, we all know you're an enigma). At times, they look like scoring machines, capable of playing top 6 forward minutes and producing. Other times, they look lost, afraid of contact and of defensive responsibility. And why is one the Favorite Son while they other is the Whipping Boy?

So which is it? Are they truly skilled players in need of that... something. Or are they products of a system that produces offense? Today, we'll take a look at #14's goals and see if we can tell.

As with all these analyses, we'll break down Flash's goals into categories. They are:
  1. Skill goals created by offensive zone play/turn overs/face off wins
  2. Goals from offensive rushes/breakaways
  3. Crease work/tap-ins/rebounds/redirections
Unlike some of his more skilled teammates (and perhaps due to his 2nd and 3rd line minutes with more grinding linemates), 11 of Felischmann's 23 goals came from working in the offensive zone. Another 8 goals were scored by going hard to the net and either redirecting pucks, tapping in cross-crease passes or Knubling pucks into the net. Only 4 of last season's goals came on transition plays or breakaways. We've seen Tomas score some elite level skill and speed goals in his Caps career (his nickname used to fit), but the majority of last season's goals weren't of that variety.

After watching all of Fleischmann's goals, the first thing I noticed was was his release. There is NO hesitation on Flash's wrist shot, no wind up; he receives the puck and in one motion the shot is off (I'm reminded of Paul Kariya in his goal scoring prime). With the 2nd highest shooting % on the team, Flash was clearly picking his spots well. The second, and perhaps more important thing I saw was his positioning. On many of his offensive zone goals, Fleischmann managed to get into open ice and put himself in position for a good pass. He forechecked well, wasn't afraid to skate out of the corners and went to the places goals scorers go. That's instinct, and that will lead to more goals.

Fleischmann missed the first 11 games of the season and returned to score 7 goals in his first 9 games. But in his remaining 60 games, he managed to score only 16 goals more goals (and none in his last 7 games, including playoffs). Perhaps those Olympic games wore down poor Tomas, after not being able to participate in training camp?

2010-11 should answer quite a few questions about Tomas Fleischmann: Is he a legitimate 25+ goal, 55+ point producer? Can he fill the role of 2nd line center? Can he gain the consistency his game has been lacking in his previous seasons? Does he deserve the high praise his coach heaps onto him?

I guess we'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Whether or not Flash deserves his coach's praise, he'll keep getting it. Bruce has a major soft spot and a big pair of blinders on when it comes to Flash and his boy Greenie. I think if Flash hadn't sucked and gotten scratched in the playoffs (which considering his position with Bruce surprised me) we would all think his new deal is a bargain. Let's hope he maintains his numbers this season while not disappearing this post season.