Editor’s Note: This is an entry in our search for Fresh Blood at TLN. Every possible contributor will get three posts to strut their stuff and then we’ll ask you readers to help us choose who is going to join.
BY: ANDREW BATES @THESILVERFOXTO
During Wednesday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, Luke Schenn found himself watching from the press box, not as an injured player, but as a healthy scratch. Ron Wilson felt that it was best for Luke and the Leafs that he sit out and watch, hopefully thinking about how he needs to try harder, and how he wants to become a better hockey player…as if he wasn’t doing that already.
Schenn has met success everywhere he’s gone in his career, from the WHL, to the World Junior Hockey Championship, to the NHL. This kid knows how to play hockey, evidenced by his two out of four outstanding seasons, wedged around two rather disappointing ones.
I don’t have rose tinted glasses towards Luke, I know he’s had some struggles and I’ve cursed his name more than a few times while watching a game, but I wonder was he the right choice to scratch against the Oilers? Did he deserve to be benched?
Follow me over the jump to find out.
Luke has had his troubles this year – he is averaging nearly four minutes less per night then he did last year and hasn’t looked terribly great doing it. At one point he had a sub -20 Corsi rating, which is very ugly. He has turned around his play lately but has not been rewarded with the ice time that should go along with this.
Schenn has had a positive offensive zone start/finish ratio every year of his career, and this year is no different. This means that the puck is in the offensive zone when he finishes his shift more then when he starts his shift. Also, over his last five games (going into action Saturday night) he has a +13 Corsi and a +14 Fenwick. To me, this is calling to play a player more – to reward a young kid that is obviously having some confidence issues and has shown, in his best seasons with the Leafs, that he plays better with the more minutes he sees. Obviously the reason he has played less minutes this year, and in his second year, is because he has struggled. Think about if you had performed poorly a few games in a row and started seeing a lot less minutes, you’re probably going to be fairly discouraged which could affect your game.
I’m not going to say that I’m disappointed in Ron Wilson’s benching of Schenn against the Oilers (as we won the game). Maybe Schenn needed a kick in the ass, but it’s unfortunate to see a young player that we’ve seen do so well at times get scratched and hardly play when he is dressed. Something I am disappointed in is that Keith Aulie continues to get playing time, and in Wednesday’s case over Schenn. Aulie has actually averaged more ice time then Schenn at 5v5 this year, which is beyond confusing.
I have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the dressing room door, but it may seem that Luke isn’t getting a fair shake of the stick here (no pun intended). He’s obviously pulling out of the funk he’s been in lately and the way I see it, the best way of continuing the upward trend is to give the kid some more time on the ice, not more in a suit.
PS – After this was written, Schenn played 21+ minutes in the most recent game and finished with an even corsi rating.