Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Midseason Review - Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux - 26 G - 7 G, 15 A, -16, 16 PIM

Grade: B

You know, I'm either going to hurry up and finish writing these, or stop althogether. I had Mario's review written, and then he retires! Last week was the same problem with Palffy. Ugh. Well, make sure you especially relish the numbers from 88-89 - we'll likely never see numbers like that again. Here's the review I wrote about a week ago, unedited.

Mario obviously has missed a large number of games recently, but when he was playing, he was averaging almost a point per game, most of those points coming on the power play. His presence is sorely missed right now on the Pens woeful power play. He may not be the best back-checking forward, but he also probably shouldn't be playing center at the point in his career either, in my opinion, unless you pair him with someone that can cover the defensive end from the wing postion. That probably wouldn't work too well in Michel Therrien's system. He certainly shouldn't play center at the expense of Sidney Crosby, as the team really needs Crosby to develop at the center position. With the hopeful arrival of Malkin next year, the transition of Lemieux to wing will be even more critical, as the Pens will be stacked up the middle.

The biggest disappointment for Mario has to be the -16 rating, along with the under 10% shooting percentage (he's currently at 9.1%). Taking a look back over his career, he was only in the minus column a few times, and it's more a function of the team he was on than anything else. I think it's the same way this year too. The shooting percentage is a different problem, though. I think he's just slowing down a bit. Prior to his comeback, he'd never shot lower than 15% for a season. The first year he came back, he shot 20%. Since then, he hasn't broken 12%. I'm guessing it's because his hands aren't quite as fast as they used to be.

Just to wax nostalgic, take a look at the stats from his immortal 88-89 season -
76 Games
85 Goals (31 on PP)
114 A (49 on PP)
100 PIM
13 Short-handed goals
8 Game winning goals

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