Jason Garrison’s play has gone downhill since he began dabbling in telekinesis.
There are some media types out there that seem to have no problem with flip-flopping on their opinions from time to time, without a basic understanding of archives at their disposal. It always makes me chuckle. If you’re in this game long enough you’ll have certain posts – that you were fully on board with at the time, almost unbelievably – come back to make you look silly. I learned that the hard way when I wondered out loud whether Andrew Ebbett could prove to be a reason fill-in as the 2nd line centre last season (spoiler: he wasn’t).
And then there’s this article, which I put together before the season about how I’d like to see John Tortorella utilize a pairing of Jason Garrison and Alex Edler. I know I wasn’t the only one that thought it could prove to be a boon for the Canucks, but I was probably one of the more vocal members in that camp. Well, through 20 games, that idea isn’t faring too well..
It has been a very weird second season for Garrison as a Canuck thus far, which can essentially be broken up into two extreme 10-game halves. He came out of the gate like gangbusters, with 9 points in his first 10 games. The first goal of the 2013-14 season for the Canucks came on a Garrison clapper with the man advantage, which is something that fans of the team were salivating about all summer along (and pleading for throughout the majority of the previous season). The following clip is basically porn for most of you:
During that stretch he had a 10 shot outing against the Canadiens, and had a stretch where he played 26:05 and 28:29 in back-to-back games that didn’t even go to overtime. Things were looking real good for Garrison, the Canucks, and myself personaly.
I made a bet with Cam Charron about Garrison’s goal total before the season, in which we set the over/under at 14.5 I honestly couldn’t take the over quickly enough. Based on the reaction from my followers on Twitter, I certainly wasn’t the only one that thought he was poised for a huge season.
I still think my rationale behind it was solid – he scored 16 in 77 games back in ’11-’12, and despite a very slow start to his career as a Canuck, he wound up with 8 in 47 last year (a 14 goal pace). In addition to that, he had only scored 3 PP goals in his limited time on the man advantage last season, and I figured we’d see a heavy dose of bombs from the point this year like the one from the video above.
.. But roughly a quarter of the way into the season, it just hasn’t happened for him. He leads the Canucks blueliners in PP ice-time (3:01), and has attempted a whopping 52 shots with the man advantage this season. 33 of those 52 have made their way on net, and only 1 of them – the one I mentioned in the first goal of the season – has made its way past the opposing goaltender.
To put those 33 shots on goal in perspective, the 2nd highest Canuck is Ryan Kesler and he has 21. Garrison’s 57 shots on goal for the year are 4th in the NHL for defensemen, with only Erik Karlsson, Dustin Byfuglien, and PK Subban being able to say that they have more. I’ve heard of all 3 of those guys.
The White Rock native came into the season with a career 7.7% shooting percentage. Just based on a simple and crude calculation, were he to be scoring at that rate this year, he’d currently have somewhere in the ballpark of 4-5 goals, and we’d be looking at his season differently.
It’s rather amusing to stack up Garrison’s Behind the Net page with that of a Kevin Bieksa. They’re starting relatively the same number of shifts in the offensive zone, and going up against comparably tough competition. While Bieksa has admittedly had a very nice little bounce-back season next to newcomer Ryan Stanton, the reason he has a +9 next to his name (whereas Garrison has a -4) is for the most part due to luck.
Bieksa is currently sporting a .946 on-ice save %, an 8.99 on-ice shooting %, and as a result, a rather unsustainable 103.6 PDO. Garrison on the other hand has a .917 on-ice sv%, 5.56 on-ice shooting %, and conversely an unsustainbly low 91.7 PDO. It’s reasonable to believe that sooner or later their fortunes will reverse, and the narrative will become different. And maybe, just maybe, Don Cherry will stop pumping BIESKA’S!!1!! tires (but probably not).
Let’s get back to the Garrison and Edler pairing that I mentioned in the preamble though, because while they’ve been what we call a "tire fire" compared to the team’s other pairings (and expectations based on their past, and their contracts), they’ve been a lot better lately. When I praised the Stanton/Bieksa pairing back on November 4th, they were rocking an unfathomable 0.825 GF/60, 4.125 GA/60, and 43.4 Corsi For %. Simply put, they were getting torched by anyone and everyone.
Since then the team has played 4 games, and they’ve already managed to improve their season totals to the tune of 1.521 GF/60, 2.661 GA/60, 49.0 Corsi For %. While those numbers still aren’t what we expected heading into the campaign, they’re definitely trending in the right direction. Baby steps.
All of that will hardly appease Canucks fans, though. Garrison has failed to reach the 20-minute mark in the past 3 games, and has as many points as I do over the last 10. While the numbers will probably begin to look better for him as we go along purely based on the percentages, there’s no denying that he needs to be play better or it won’t matter.
I’ve got a personal rooting interest in him turning it around; it’s not even about the $15-$20 that the pitcher I’ll owe Charron at the end of the year, but instead it’s about the smugness I’ll be forced to put up with over the course of the next 4 months or so if he doesn’t turn it around.