Colorado Avalanche defenseman Sam Girard has been catching flak for his play this year. Here’s an in-depth look at his season so far.
When defenseman Sam Girard first came to the Colorado Avalanche, he was greeted with cheers, especially every time he performed a spin-o-rama or out-defensed Tyson Barrie sans stick. These days, his performances are so picked apart, he’s greeted with jeers rather than cheers.
How soon the shine wears off — he’s only been with the team for two years. However, he’s in the final year of his entry-level contract and about to enjoy a seven-year contract worth $5 million annually. So, maybe that’s why he’s come under fire recently.
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Is it deserved? Well, let’s look at his basic stats. He’s played all 39 games for the Colorado Avalanche. He has one goal and 13 assists for 14 points so far. That puts him on pace to beat his career-best from last year, which was 27 points in 82 games. Indeed, he might hit the 30-point mark this year.
For those of you who care, his plus/minus ratio is bad. He is, in fact, -8 for the season. His last five games have all been in the minus category. (I know many people don’t trust the veracity of this statistic. However, it’s still touted by experts, so I mention it.)
So, at first blush that looks like his offense is flourishing while his defense is suffering.
Right now he’s averaging 21:46 of time on ice, which is pretty average for a top four defenseman on the Colorado Avalanche. So far, he’s had 22 takeaways and 27 giveaways. His CorsiFor is 49.9, while his Relative Corsi is 0.3. Those aren’t fantastic statistics, but I also don’t believe they’re awful.
Now, I’m not a fancy stats person, but let’s look a little deeper into said stats, as reported by Natural Stat Trick. His shots for/against percentage is 47.63%, which means slightly more shots are getting through to his goalie vs. opponent goalies when he’s on the ice. Scoring chances for/against is similar at 49.27%. Ditto goals for/against, 48.97. Again, though, I personally think those stats are barely below neutral.
Enough with the stats and on to some eye evidence. Well, Girard was -1 in the game against the Dallas Stars. He was, in fact, on the ice when Tyler Seguin scored the opening goal of the game:
Yeah, that’s not great. First, he’s late coming back to the defensive zone. Then, he finally reaches his man, Seguin, just to fail at blocking the pass with his stick, resulting in Seguin’s goal.
That’s one play out of many. Here’s an instance of his earning a primary assist for feeding a teammate a goal:
Hey, that was a pretty Tyson Jost goal that originated on Girard’s pass.
And his only goal of the year, a lovely power play tally:
Hey, I’ll say it out loud — Girard may not score as much on the power play as Barrie, but he’s so much better at keeping the puck in the zone. And then something like the goal above happens.
So, why the Sam Girard hate? It seems like every game fans are howling for him to be benched, scratched or even demoted to the AHL! Yet he’s not that bad and a site better than any of the options we’d have for his replacement.
Would you really rather see Calle Rosen, Mark Barberio, or Anton Lindholm playing alongside… well, whomever his partner dujour is?
For Girard started the year with his usual partner, Erik Johnson. However, once Johnson became injured, his partners started shifting all the time. He paired with Calle Rosen, Nikita Zadorov, and Ryan Graves. Once Cale Makar returned to the lineup, he spent a game skating next to that worthy before bouncing back to Zadorov, even though Johnson was again available.
That’s quite the merry-go-round.
I think the frustration stems from his not stepping in to take Barrie’s place right away. Yet even Barrie wasn’t Barrie in the beginning. And Sam Girard was never meant to be that player for the Colorado Avalanche anyway.
That’s what Cale Makar is for.