Comcast SportsNet's Craig Laughlin is back at the Gardens Ice House as...
Knuble Kerfluffle Kafkaesque? Kindly Know Kant
It seems as if there’s been a bit of an eruption among Capitals fans lately about the status of Mike Knuble and his position in the last few games of scoring nachos with the other scratched players instead of scoring goals.
Why should Knuble be playing? He’s got heart. He’s a veteran leader. He scores “dirty goals.” There’s been many a time he’s called out the team as being terrible and not playing well in the press, and we all remember how heroic he was in 24/7 in asserting to the team how he was tired of losing. To me, that sums up the player and his career entirely.
Unfortunately, while he’s a great leader, he’s just not producing at an NHL level. In 53 games this season, he’s got 3/8/11(fewer points than Karl Alzner, and only three points more than Cody Eakin had in 24 fewer games and five minutes of ice time less per game than Knuble), and he’s -14. He has a Corsi rating that would make Mario Mendoza blush (it’s the worst on the team of players who have played more than 40 games). The team scores 1.39 goals when he’s on the ice, and they give up 2.58. If anything, we should be asking why the team carried him around for so long with such terrible numbers?
Now granted, Knuble’s not getting much ice time, and he’s been stuck with the back six most of the year. I’ll give you that his numbers would probably take a dip in that regard. But he’s not doing anything with the limited time he’s getting to earn a promotion to top six minutes. And besides, what’s he going to do on the top lines? There’s no set up man with Nick Backstrom’s injury, and with the team as paper thin as it already is at center, Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault, already playing out of their element, aren’t going to fill that role either. Further, who would you take out of the lineup to put Knuble back in? Arguably, Jay Beagle brings more to the table right now as a checker and as a natural “fit” in the back six. Ditto Joel Ward, despite the terribly disappointing season he’s had. Jason Chimera has turned from Geoff Courtnall earlier this season back into Russ Courtnall, but you don’t dare take his speed out of the lineup, because he’s so integral to the Caps fore-check game (when they decide to do it), and one of the few players on the team that can create puck possession opportunities all by himself.
I’m not familiar with the Caps dressing room at all, but I don’t think, as some people do, that this is going to cause any kind of major discord. If Knuble’s the kind of leader everyone thinks he is, he’s got to be at the forefront of saying “I stink, and I shouldn’t be out there”. It’s tough to watch, because he was such a heart and soul guy for so much of his career and he’s been a pretty big contributing piece for most teams he’s been on. But much like Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, and Flavor Flav, everyone has a clock. It appears Knuble’s has run out.