When playing defense in the National Hockey League, there are other important numbers than those reflected in the goals, assists and points column.
Then again, McBain, who joined the team on November 10, has two goals, seven points and a plus-one rating in 15 games this season and has seen time on the power play at a time when it engineered its best success. In his last nine games, he has two goals and six points.
“I feel pretty good,” McBain said. “It’s a little bit of an adjustment right off the bat coming in, but it’s an easy group of guys to be around, to get to know and they make you feel right at home right away. It’s a great organization and it’s been a lot of fun just to be around this group. They’ve been together for a long time. They obviously have been very successful. So it’s fun just to watch them every day and see how they work and how everyone comes together to make sure that it’s a winning organization.”
His #fancystats are incomplete. Through 15 games, there’s not enough of a sample size to gain helpful data, though his five-on-five Corsi-for is 51.4%, four points below the team’s five-on-five Corsi when he’s not on the ice. Interestingly, his Corsi events, for + against / 60 minutes, is 100.3, the lowest rate on the team amongst players with at least 10 games played. So in the limited sample provided, there hasn’t been a surplus of overall shot attempts by either team.
“When he’s in the lineup, he takes some pressure off of Drew, and without Slava in the lineup – that’s what Slava did too, take pressure off Drew,” Darryl Sutter said. “Obviously Jamie’s not able to play that same situation that Slava did, but you can put him in offensive situations, and he’s done a good job with that. I think that we’ve had to adjust with a different type of defense, and he’s been able to fit in with it. Hey, we’ve used nine guys 40 games in. He’s going to tell you the same thing I’m going to tell you, that it’s the team part of it. Hey, there are things offensively we want him to see him do more of because he’s capable of it, and there are things defensively that we need him to be better at.”
The 12:58 McBain averages per game is on the low end compared to other defensemen around the league, though he has earned ice time above his season average in each of his last six games and logged 15:57 in Saturday’s 7-6 overtime loss to Nashville, his second-highest total of the season.
At practice earlier today, he articulated his 15-game impression of playing for Darryl Sutter.
“He’s very intense. He’s expects a lot out of the guys, which is good. He makes sure that he pushes. He understands that everyone has different skill sets, different things that they bring to the game,” McBain said. “I think he understands how to push those buttons in the right way to make sure everyone is contributing to the best of their abilities. It’s been fun to be around. His intensity, it makes sure that you’re at the top of your game. He doesn’t let you slack off. He doesn’t let you get away with things, especially in practice, because he’s making sure that everything is done the right way. It keeps you focused. It keeps you engaged and making sure you’re doing the right things every day.”
Jamie McBain, on whether he anticipated this degree of production:
I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m a guy that I expect a lot from myself and I’m a guy that likes to put up points. But it’s kind of one of those things where at this stage I’m just making sure I’m doing my part to make sure, regardless of how many minutes I’m getting, to make sure I’m being structurally sound, taking care of my own end and not being a liability out there. Points are definitely a bonus, though. With this group of forwards and this group of guys in here, a lot of times it’s makes our jobs as D-men a lot easier. You give someone the puck in their own zone, and with the skill sets these guys have, they can go end-to-end and it’s a nice assist. It’s a nice change and it’s been nice to be able to contribute in that fashion and I hope to continue to do so.
McBain, on whether he’s in a healthy competition with Brayden McNabb and Jeff Schultz:
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a good thing to have competition in the lineup. Obviously, it forces you to make sure you’re bringing your best every night because you know that there is a guy right behind you or right in front of you, regardless of the case, that’s going to make sure they’re doing their best. So I think competition is great for a team and great for a group of defensemen to make sure that, like I said, everyone is bringing their A-game every night. And know that if you’re not bringing that, the next night someone can come in and take your spot and fill that void. I think that’s something we’ve been able to prove through this stretch of games where a few guys have been down with Robyn and things and we’ve stepped right in and done our part. That’s what you want. You want depth in the lineup and you want guys that can come in and can contribute.
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