Worst NHL Deadline Deal: Tampa Bay Lightning Moving Road Stalwart, Matt Gilroy

Marc RubinContributor IIIMarch 2, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06: Matt Gilroy #97 of the Tampa Bay Lightning hits P.A. Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay is still only six points out of a playoff spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference with a 29-28-6 record.

When they miss the playoffs, it will be attributable to their woeful road play. They are 10-19-4, 364 on the road versus a sparkling 19-9-2, 667 home-game performance.

Winnipeg and Washington, two teams just ahead of Tampa Bay at No. 8 and No. 9 in the race, have suffered similar home/road disparities.

TEAM                                HOME                              ROAD


Winnipeg                        20-10-4, 647                     11-17-4, 406

Washington                    21- 8 -2, 710                     11-18-3, 391          

Recent NHL history reveals that numerous teams have failed to make the playoffs because of their road failures.

St Louis       2010/11      23-13-5, 622                      15-20-6, 439

New Jersey  2010/11      22-16-3, 573                      16-23-2, 415


Anaheim      2009/10      25-11-5, 671                      14-21-6, 415

Minnesota    2009/10      25-12-4, 659                      13-24-4, 366

Dallas          2009/10      23-11-7, 646                      14-20-7, 427

NY Islanders 2009/10     23-14-4, 610                       11-23-7, 354 

Columbus     2009/10     20-12-9, 598                       12-23-6, 366

Toronto        2009/10      18-17-6, 512                       12-21-8, 390

Teams play poorly on the road because their players do.

Home/road "split" differences for individual players in baseball are understandable because ballparks have distinct designs in different geographic locations with varying weather. 

One would think the uniformity of hockey rinks would render visitor status an insignificant factor in player performance, but that is not the case. In fact, one can argue that what distinguishes great from good NHL players is their road performance.

Future Hall-of-Famer Zdeno Chara is plus-78 home and plus-62 road in his career.

Brian Campbell is plus-59 home but minus-14 road in his career.

Shea Weber is plus-43 home but minus-two road in his career. 

Tampa Bay was 26-23-4, 528 in games Matt Gilroy played in 2011-12.

Tampa Bay was  3-5-2, 400 in games Gilroy did not play.

One reason might be that Matt Gilroy is more careful with the puck, as his 20 giveaways was lowest on the Lightning relative to games played.  But the primary reason is exhibited in the chart below, showing that every one of the Lightning's core defensemen has severe road difficulties.

Player                         2011/12 home vs road            career home vs road


Marc-Andre Bergeron              +10 vs  -4                        +21 and -29

Eric Brewer                           +13  vs -15                        -11 and -93

Brett Clark                               -6  vs -18                         +3 and -52

Bruno Gervais                          +2 vs   -7                        -11 and -54                


Victor Hedman                         +4 vs -11                       +31 and -38


TOTALS                                +23  vs -55                       +33 and -266

Matt Gilroy                             +3   vs  -1                        +1  and  +6  

Ironically, Gilroy is now with Ottawa where Coach Paul Maclean has the Senators' defense playing better than it has in the past. Sergie Gonchar and Chris Phillips have reduced their big career road negative numbers here in 2011/12.

Gilroy's 0.9 hits/game (49 hits in 54 games) makes him their third most punishing defenseman. His 0.65 takeaway/giveaway ratio (13 takes/20 gives) puts him in a far better position than Phillips, Gonchar and Filip Kuba and third behind only Jared Cowen and Erik Karlsson.

Look for Ottawa to surprise in the playoffs with their solid corps of defensemen bolstered by the addition of Matt Gilroy's 16-17 minutes per game.

And look for road performance numbers to be a key consideration in this summer's free agency assessment by personnel executives.


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