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Is Mike Babcock Insane?

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"Just do what 41 Is Doing!"
"Just do what 41 Is Doing!"
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

I love this team, from the bottom of my heart. Some of you might question that because of how mercilessly calumnious I am towards them. It's not that I hate them, folks. It's that I hate some of the decisions that are made for a team who is so much better than what the sheet in front of me says. What's the issue here? Is it players? Are they just not that good? Yeah, no. I won't stick with that. So if the players aren't bad, then what is it? In my opinion, the root of the problem starts at coaching. Yes, Mike Babcock is a world-class coach. He knows the game more than I ever will. Now that we have that out of the way, I absolutely cannot stand the way he coaches this team sometimes.

But, Kyle... How can you hate the way the best coach in hockey coaches his team?

The answer is, well I just can. There is something about Babcock's approach that I find asinine and absolutely ineffective.
It's not rocket science to put Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together, and watch them cut through their competition. They are arguably some of the best players in the game. Henrik Zetterberg is a machine. He handles strong competition better than most, and still produces. While Detroit isn't stacked down the middle, they have reliable centers. Riley Sheahan is becoming a very important player to this team, and Darren Helm is well, Darren Helm, I guess.

The point of this post is to ask why. Why, Babcock? Why on earth do you believe in Luke Glendening so much? Is it the wonderful smile? Is it because he tries so hard? Fact of the matter is that Luke Glendening is not as good as Babcock makes him out to be. Let me give credit where it's due, because Glenny has become a lot better since last season. He's the team's best faceoff guy, and has a tendency to piss other players off without drawing stupid penalties.

That being said, he is not an shutdown center like everyone thinks for some reason. I am going to use last night's game against Tampa Bay as a primary example. Why? Because I think when your stone-hand fourth line is playing just south of 10 minutes of ice-time against a team's all-star first line, your coach must be out of his gourd.

Let's get the positives out of the way:

  • He went 62% in the faceoff dot. Impressive, yeah.
  • He was on the ice for a goal scored.

I know we are dealing with sample size here, but why is it that Mike Babcock feels so necessary to lean on this kid so much? He's not a god damned superstar, and he's not producing numbers anywhere near the TOI he is earning.
You're telling me that you and your coaching staff all agree that Luke Glendening's line is a good matchup for Steven Stamkos' line? Right. I'll believe that when 'me shit turns purple, and smells like rainbow sherbet.

Folks, don't get me wrong here.. I absolutely love Luke Glendening. His story of how he came up into this organization, his wonderful smile, the fact that he is intelligent.. The kid is a wonderful human being, and this post is not because of him. It's because of his coach. After Darren Helm scored a crucial momentum-building goal last night, Mike Babcock found it necessary to put his fourth line out for the next shift. You know, the line we call Glenny and the Stone Hands? (Do we call them that? We should)

Why? I mean, Babcock knows more about hockey and deployment than I do, but why is it that when your team just scored a goal, you nix your chance at scoring effects and put out a few marshmallows on the ice?

Here is some data for you to peruse real quick, which was provided by War-On-Ice.

corsi

Player GP TOI Teammate % TOI Competition % Corsi Teammate % Corsi Competition %
Datsyuk 8 30.27 29.63 56.73 49.15
Glendening 15 27.48 29.59 42.67 50.72
Helm 15 25.98 26.99 56.78 49.02
Sheahan 15 26.46 27.66 58.97 49.4
Zetterberg 15 30.74 28.09 55.87 50.89


As you can see, Glendening has the worst numbers of all players, obviously. Does anyone find it strange that his Corsi Competition % is  2nd highest on that list? I feel like for a fourth line player, that is probably not a good thing. What really interests me is why Babcock has not tried leaning on a player like Riley Sheahan. He has similar NHL experience as Glendening, and since he has made the jump to the big leagues he has been a positive-possession player. The same goes for Darren Helm too. He may have dump trucks for hands, but he is solid defensively, and has shown that he can score from time to time.

Look at the graph- Is it not insane to anyone else that Glendening's Competition's Corsi is almost level with Zetterberg's? Paging Mike Babcock: The color red usually means bad things.

The point is, why would you have your fourth line out there against primary competition? Their corsi/fenwick numbers are glaring evidence that they never have the puck, and that's a problem when your facing Steven Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron, or Sidney Crosby. Puck possession is everything, and I would love to see Babcock stick to that motto. You know, his motto. Of all centers last night, Luke Glendening saw the 2nd highest TOI right behind Henrik Zetterberg. Why is that? Most people would say that Babcock is making way to matchup Zetterberg against lesser competition, but is that really worth it? When you're dealing with guys who can score goals whenever the hell they want like Steven Stamkos, do you really want to ride that narrative?
Maybe some of you think otherwise, but I don't think Luke Glendening is as good as Mike Babcock makes him out to be. Love the kid, hope the best for him, but he should absolutely not be deployed the way he is. Please, Mike.. You mad scientist, you.. End this madness.