From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Boyd Gordon.
#15 / Center / Washington Capitals
5 full, 2 partial
$800,000 cap hit, UFA after 2010-11 season
Key Stat: Gordon continued to prove himself as an elite faceoff man, winning 58% (417-for-719) of the draws he took in the regular season.
Interesting Stat: Over the course of the season Gordon took 173 faceoffs on the penalty kill. He won 102 of those, which was more than the total number of shorthanded faceoffs taken by any other Cap, Nicklas Backstrom coming in at a distant second with 78 faceoffs taken (and 44 won).
The Good: Always a defensive specialist first, Gordon continued his trend of doing the little things well and focusing on his work on the penalty kill and in his own end. During the regular season he averaged over two minutes a night on the penalty kill, second-highest among all forwards behind only Brooks Laich, and in the postseason that number rose to over three minutes a night (while being on the ice for just one power play goal by the opposition in nine playoff games). Of the 24 goals surrendered by the Caps in the playoffs, Gordon was on the ice for just three, and his 0.70 GAON/60 at even strength was the second-lowest on the team behind only Mike Knuble.
Not surprising considering his shorthanded ice time and defensive sensibility, Gordon started more than half of his shifts in the defensive zone, getting just over 42% of his starts on offense. During the playoffs his offensive-zone starts at even strength dropped to just over 15% (although he finished 36% of his shifts here).
But it was on faceoffs that he truly excelled, something which became all the more important as the Caps shipped David Steckel to New Jersey at the trade deadline. With Steckel's departure Gordon became the designated fourth-line center and faceoff specialist, and by the end of the season Gordon's 719 draws were second only to Nicklas Backstrom's 1300-plus. And while his 58% win percentage during the regular season was impressive (and would put him among the top centermen in the League) he stepped it up in the playoffs, winning an incredible 68.8% of the 112 faceoffs he took during the first two rounds - a mark that still stands as the best in the postseason.
The Bad: While his defensive abilities are notable, it's also worth noting that he had the second-highest GAON/60 on the penalty kill among forwards who averaged at least a minute of shorthanded ice time, and was on the ice for fourteen of the forty-three power play goals given up by the Caps during the season.
With Gordon, however, the big issue is and continues to be health, something which once again put a damper on his regular season performance. Assorted ailments (and a few healthy scratches) caused him to miss 22 games, marking the fourth straight season in which he's failed to crack at least 70 games.
For someone who takes as much abuse as he does, of course, it's not that surprising; what was surprising was the fact that his offense, never his strong suit to begin with, managed to decline further from a year ago. Last season he picked up ten points (4G, 6A), his lowest since earning a regular gig in the NHL but a total that came during a 36-game campaign. This year? Just nine points (3G, 6A) in 60 games...and none in the playoffs.
The Vote: Rate Gordon below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best season that you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst season you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Does the fact that he's been a bargain signing year after year somewhat temper the fact that injuries are a recurring issue for Boyd Gordon? With Steckel's departure, has Gordon solidified himself as the team's fourth-line center for the foreseeable future - and would that be accompanied by a slightly lengthier contract this summer? Or does the team's slew of young, up-and-coming centers in the pipeline mean that Gordon's time with the organization is coming to an end? Finally, what would it take for Gordon to get a '10' from you in 2011-12?