Randy Carlye on Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin's Production

What me worry? - USA TODAY Sports

Randy Carlyle isn't pleased with the offence that Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski have provided this year. But is there a reason why they've struggled? And have they even struggled compared to their teammates?

Welcome to the first of what will surely be many installments of "Re-visiting Randy's Remarks" in which we take a quote from the esteemed head coach of the Maple Leafs, apply Rule #5, and see whether or not what he said makes any sense.

In James Mirtle's article about Frattin's move to Grabovski's line yesterday, he had a few quotes from head coach Randy Carlyle regarding the move. This was one of them:

"We’d like to see the Grabovski-Kulemin line score more but I’ve put them in real tough situations, too, where they’re playing the other team’s top line," Carlyle said. "There is a little leeway given them but we’d like to see them provide more offence also."

Let's break this quote down shall we?

We’d like to see the Grabovski-Kulemin line score more

It's true that Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin aren't putting up points like they used to. They're 7th (Kulemin) and 9th (Grabovski) in forward scoring on the team; which is very much removed from their huge 2010-11 campaigns. Right now Kulemin is on pace for a 40pt 82 game season, which is exactly his career average so really he's doing just fine. Grabovski is on pace for only 33pts over 82 games, but he's on pace for nearly 20 goals (a lot) and his point total is hampered by only have 5 assists; something that can be attributed to his usual linemates Kulemin, Jay McClement, and Leo Komarov only having 8 goals between them.

but I’ve put them in real tough situations, too, where they’re playing the other team’s top line

And how! They have the toughest QComp on the team, but also the best Corsi Rel QComp meaning that even with the tough assignments they're positively driving play. Also, they (along with McClement) are bottom 25 in the NHL for O-zone Start% (all under 35%) and absolutely dominating compared to that sample in terms of both Corsi and pts/60.

There is a little leeway given them but we’d like to see them provide more offence also.

Here's the money quote from Carlyle. As I've shown, even with the hard comps, they're driving play relative to the rest of the league, but what about when compared to the Leafs? All 13 of Nikolai Kulemin's points are at even strength. All of them. That's absurd. 9 out of 11 of Grabbo's points are also at evens. That's 22 ES points between the two of them. For comparison's sake, let's look at the top line's center-wing combo of Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel. Between the two of them, they only have 23 ES pts (was 21 before Kessel netted 2 goals last night.) And that's with a full 3 more minutes of ESTOI/G.

Ok so Grabbo and Kulemin are producting pretty well at evens, but then why still the low point totals? Oh right, it's because they're 7th and 9th among Leafs forwards for PPTOI/G.. Which is where Kessel has scored 10 of his 25 pts (40%) and Bozak 5 of his 14 points (36%), but Grabbo only 2 of his 11 (18%).

If Carlyle wants Grabovski and Kulemin to start scoring more, then he needs to put them in a position to score more. (Have a look at their usage charts (Grabbo, Kulemin). See any difference this year?) Because right now, even with their exceeding huge defensive burden, they're driving play and scoring at the same even strength pace as their counterparts on the top line whose point totals are inflated by massive amounts of powerplay time.

Maybe the next time Randy Carlyle gets an idea in his head that his players aren't producing, he should take some time to determine the root cause of the problem instead of throwing them under the bus that he's driving. That and play them for more than 12 minutes in the very next game.

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