Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Bradley

When you think of Matt Bradley, what images come to mind? Do you think of hard hits? Sticking up for teammates? A defense-first mentality? Dirty work? Certainly. But would you ever use the words 'skilled', 'sniper', or 'slick' when talking about Matt? Maybe you should.

Since Matt didn't score a lot of goals last season, we'll take a look at his last 2 seasons, including playoffs. That's a total of 18 goals. As with all our other goal analyses, we'll break the goals down into categories. For Matt, the groupings are pretty simple:

  • Skill Goals
  • Rebound/Grit Goals

You might be surprised to know that 10 of those 18 goals fall into the 'skill' category, including 7 of his 11 scored this season. Seven more fit the 'Rebound/Grit' group, and one lone goal falls into the undefined 'luck' category (Martin Broduer's flub of a partially-blocked Bradley shot).

A lot of Brads' goals aren't just showcases of skill, but show the hands and release of a sniper. On breakaways (and 'I'll do it" shootout attempts), he's not afraid to make power moves, use his backhand, or try something tricky. And of course, every time Bradley scores, Caps fans cheer that much louder.

Which brings me to the ultimate point of this post: that even 3rd and 4th line NHL players are still highly skilled and capable of much more than they might regularly show. Like so many, Bradley is dedicated to playing his role as a defensively-minded energy player and he excels at it.

But maybe he's really a 3rd line sniper waiting for the right opportunity to put the puck in the net.

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