"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."
--Rudyard Kipling, "Barrack-Room Ballads"
Sometimes players just don't work well together. It happens. Whether it's playing style, comfort levels, speed, ability, or communication, put a couple of mis-matched players on the ice and everything just goes wrong. Take them apart and give them different linemates or partners and their performance improves. Last year it was Shawn Horcoff and Patrick O`Sullivan that had a bit of trouble coming together, though the J.F. Jacques effect may have disfigured those numbers beyond repair. This year it's Tom Gilbert and Jason Strudwick that bring out the worst in each other.
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One of the nice things about the work Dennis King has done on scoring chances is the output from Vic Ferrari's scripts is in a standard format, making the chances numbers easy to import into SQL. From there, doing the WOWY analysis that's become so valuable in isolating player performance is a snap. Below is a WOWY chances analysis for both defensemen.
|#||With Strudwick||%||Without Strudwick||%|
Gilbert's is essentially an even defenseman without Strudwick. He's played extensively with him on this road trip and the results have been terrible.
|#||With Gilbert||%||Without Gilbert||%|
But it might not be the old veteran's fault. Without Gilbert, Strudwick is nearly an even defenseman. And as far as Gilbert goes, every other defenseman on the team sees a falloff in their play without Gilbert except...Strudwick.
I've yet to get to the bottom of why the two of them are so bad together. It's possible that the two of them are playing a higher level of competition together compared to what Strudwick has played apart from Gilbert and Strudwick can't handle it. It's possible the two of them haven't played together in the past and aren't comfortable with each other as a partner. Either way, when Strudwick and Gilbert are paired together, it's not like oil and water, it's like Magnesium and water as the two of them combine to melt everything around them. It would behoove Tom Renney to keep these two as far away from each other against the Blackhawks tonight. They've played some sub-par teams during this road trip and given up three chances for every one they've generated. The Blackhawks are not a sub-par team and these two are an impending disaster against high-flying Hawks.