From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2011-12 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2012-13. Next up, Matt Hendricks.
#26 / Forward / Washington Capitals
June 17, 1981
$825,000 cap hit in 2011-12; UFA summer 2013
'10-'11 Rink Wrap: 7.31
Key Stat: Matt Hendricks had more than twice as many fights (11) as second place (5) on the Caps.
Interesting Stat: Hendricks was held pointless (and a combined -3) in the 11 games that he fought in.
The Good: Hendricks brought the physical presence Caps fans have come to expect. In addition to leading the team in fights, he was second on the team in hits, 18th in the league, during the regular season in hits and then led the team in hits during the playoffs. Hendricks is still the 6the leading hitter in the playoffs Hendricks also stepped up and led the team in faceoff percentage in the playoffs (min 20 faceoffs). Hendricks also had the fourth most penalty killing time on ice per game among forwards. Aside from the numbers, Hendricks just seemed to turn his game up a notch in the playoffs, and his ice time seemed to reward the effort. With increases in his even strength and penalty kill time on ice per game, it was clear that Hendricks was one of the players Dale Hunter trusted in the tight, defensive moments. Hendricks was only on the ice for 4 even strength goals against during the playoffs (and 3 more on the penalty kill), so that seems to vindicate Hunter's faith.
Of course, we could look at all the numbers to try to describe Hendricks' season, but the thing that stands out about his season came after overtime. Hendricks' 5 shootout goals represent 50% of the times Hendricks beat a goalie this season. He made Olympians and backups alike look foolish (and one old man). The most enduring memory from Hendricks' season (that isn't followed by an immediate shudder) came against the Boston Bruins. We'd already seen Hendricks beat a host of other goalies, but at least one guy hadn't watched much tape of Matt Hendricks:
The Bad: Hendricks was one of three players to increase their goals per game, assists per game, and points per game during the playoffs. When 1 goal and 1 assist in 14 games is an increase in both your goals and assists per game, that's not a good sign. Hendricks' 9 points in the regular season was only better than one player who played more than half the season, and that was Jeff Schultz. Even as a 4th liner, you need to produce more than that if you're an everyday player. A low on-ice shooting percentage was a partial culprit, but considering only one forward was on ice for fewer shots-for per 60 minutes, it's safe to say Hendricks wasn't doing much to create any offense. And despite spending most of his shifts in the defensive zone, he still ended up with less than a block per game in the regular season and playoffs.
Hendricks got negligible ice time on the power play, which is to be expected, so he wasn't bringing any other scoring to the table aside from his even strength production, either. Defensively, he didn't play particularly tough minutes, so there's no reason the difficult assignments should have suppressed his scoring so drastically. He did have a higher percentage of shifts start in the defensive zone, but it's telling that despite his faceoff ability he still wasn't used much in defensive roles. Three centers were more likely to start a shift in the D zone, including Brooks Laich who was below 50% on the dot. Likewise on the penalty kill, Hendricks got his PK time, but there were two other centers to get more time on the PK (one of them Laich). For a guy who has had a solid track record on the draw, you'd like to see him more trusted in defensive situations.
The Vote: Rate Hendricks 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 year 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 year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: What should Hendricks' role be going forward? Is 11 fights and 9 points worthy of an everyday sweater on this team? If he needs to do more to stay in the lineup, is that on the offensive or defensive side of things? What will it take for him to earn a "10" in 2012-13?