In the aftermath of Monday night’s loss to the Penguins, Sun columnist Don Brennan concluded a column by asking the question,“Is the honeymoon with Cory Conacher over already?”
I have no idea what prompted Brennan to pose the query, it could have been a word quota, but a glance at Conacher’s numbers from Monday -- 12:48 in ice-time, one shot, two hits and a giveaway -- were nothing to write home about.
Taken one step further, Conacher has had 2 goals and 4 points in the 9 games that followed his trade from Tampa Bay. During this stretch of time, he’s averaging about 13:34 in ice-time per game and the diminutive forward is thirteenth on the team in shots on goal with 14.
On the surface, these numbers are modest, but he is tied for the team lead in goals and points during this period.
A more apt question could have been, “what the hell do people expect?”
Much was made at the time of the trade of how there were some points of concern at the time of his acquisition.
Having tallied 5 goals and 12 points, Conacher scored on approximately 41.67% of his shots through the first 7 games of the season. There’s no question Conacher benefited like other players on two-way contracts from spending the early portion of the year in the AHL while other NHL players were locked out. Spending a significant portion of the early season flanking Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis probably didn't hurt either.
Here’s a breakdown down Conacher’s into rookie season into three sections: first seven games, remainder of season in Tampa and then his time with Ottawa:
First 7 GP
Next 28 GP w/ TB
First 9 GP with OTT
We can make a big deal out of how favourable the circumstances fthe first 7 GP were for point production, but Conacher has fit in well alongside Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg, the Calder line has not been a problem.
Together, this trio has developed some formidable puck possession rates. Via HockeyAnalysis.com, here’s a look at what Conacher has done while being on the ice at 5v5.
When on ice Together
As you can infer from these numbers, this trio is directing more than 60% of the shots at the opposition net when they’re on the ice together, according to Scott's scoring chance data the Senators are taking a dominating 73-percent of the scoring chances when Conacher is on the ice (regardless of teammate). Furthermore, in 9 games Conacher-Zibanejad-Silfverberg have only been on the ice for one goal against at 5on5.
It's easy to bemoan his point production, but the important takeaway here is that Conacher hasn’t been playing like a bag of ****. Although he, like the rest of his team, is struggling to produce goals, it’s not for lack of trying. If he was getting killed in possession and swamped with chances against there'd be cause for concern. In the meantime, let's refrain from some hatchet job where it's currently unwarranted.