Iso Report: Luke Schenn

Graig Abel, NHLI via Getty Images

Subject: Luke Schenn

       Date: February 1st, 2012 (Penguins @ Leafs)

Box Score: The Maple Leafs were able to get a small measure of revenge on the Penguins, shutting them out 1-0 on  goal by Clarke MacArthur late in the third period.

Stat Pack: 0G, 0A, 0PTS, +1, 0PIM, 0:00 PP TOI, 0:08 SH TOI, 14:00 TOI

Score Sheet: Schenn was on the ice for the Leafs lone goal of the night, scored by Clarke MacArthur.  He was on his way to the bench for a change, but was credited with a plus.

The Positives:

  • Decent job of anchoring to slot
  • Good job using size to limit Evgeni Malkin
  • Good job of play recognition on the rush
  • Good job getting shots through from point

The Negatives:

  • Overcommitted on occasion in slot area
  • Took himself out of play to make physical play
  • Bad pinch in offensive zone nearly led to scoring chance
  • Bad clearing on penalty kill

The Details:

Period One: In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I had a meeting that ran late, and I missed almost all of the first period.  Due to this, I don’t think I could make a fair evaluation, and therefore will omit period one from tonight’s report.

Period Two (05:23 TOI): In period two, Schenn did a decent job of keeping the puck in inside his own offensive zone, although there were times when he seemed to panic a bit when pressured, as seen later on in the game.

In the second period, Schenn did an okay job staying at the net, and was exemplary on one play in particular, using physicality to regain possession of the puck for his team.  For the most part he did a good job of remaining at the net, and staying in the slot to close off opponents scoring chances, but there were a few times where he scrambled.

In one instance in front of the net, Schenn over committed on a physical play, going for the big hit and taking himself out of position.  This resulted in a scoring opportunity for the Penguins, and when Schenn did get back into the play, he seemed to scramble and covered the wrong man, which led to a chance for the forward he was supposed to mark.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the game of Luke Schenn tonight was how well he was able to adjust and keep up to the Penguins forwards when they would criss-cross on the rush.  He did a good job of recognizing the cross move, communicating with his defense partner, and quickly adjusting his feet to stay in position.

There was a play in the second period where Schenn lost the puck behind the net.  He had Phaneuf with him for support, and just one Penguins player coming back.  Schenn went around the net, and then tried to reverse and pass the puck back to Phaneuf.  However, as he went to reverse, he lost his footing and the play resulted in a scoring chance for the Penguins.

The easier play would have been to stay his path, and rather than reverse, simply bounce it off the boards and out of the zone.  Now, there is a chance that Phaneuf had called for Schenn to reverse.  If that is the case, than it is simply the case of Schenn being harder on his skates and not falling.  It certainly is easier said than done, but he has to stay upright, and he has to get enough on the pass to safely get it to Phaneuf.

With 2:40 remaining in the second period, he went to the net to close off the area, which was a positive move.  However, he tried to do too much, and cover more than one man.  This led to him spinning around in the slot, and losing his marker, which led to a good Penguins scoring chance.  In this case, Schenn committed to a man already covered by Lombardi, which left a Penguins forward open in front of the goal.

One thing Luke Schenn did really well, and usually does well, is getting his shots through.   While he doesn’t have a hard shot that will overpower a goalie, he does an excellent job of getting his shots through and on net, which often create rebounds.  This is such an undervalued skill, and while the Leafs were not able to cash in on any rebounds created by Schenn, it is still a very positive play that can create offense for his team.

Schenn did an excellent job last night against Evgeni Malkin, shutting down one of the best players in the league, and one of the hottest hands as well.  He was constantly aware of where Malkin was on the ice, and followed him in the offensive zone, but was still able to largely remain by the net and not chase him down low, which could have led to a scoring chance.

He also did a great job of keeping up with Malkin.  He did an excellent job of transitioning, and handled Malkin trying to stop-and-start really well, and didn’t lose his positioning on Malkin.  When Malkin was able to use his frame to push to the front of the net, Schenn used his size to block off any scoring chance, and also used his stick effectively and smartly, to limit scoring chances.

Period Three (02:28 TOI): While Schenn saw his ice time diminish in the final period (the Leafs had two powerplays, and Schenn doesn’t factor in on any of those units) he still had an eventful 02:28 on the ice.

At 18:11 he made a turnover in his own zone, but it appeared that the puck struck the official on the play.  In this instance, Schenn made a good effort to get back into position, and didn’t panic.

As the puck went up the ice, Schenn made a bad pinch inside the Leafs offensive zone, and the puck got past him.  He was, in this instance, lucky that the Penguins forwards were tired and were in need of a change, otherwise this could have been an odd man rush for the Penguins going the other way.  As the old saying goes, if you’re going to pinch, you have to get the puck.  There simply is no other option.  Similar to a blitz in the NHL, a pinch can be very helpful to your team if you can execute it properly, but if you don’t you could be giving up big plays for the other team.

Schenn had some time on the penalty kill in the third period.  There was one play off of a faceoff where he had a chance to clear the puck and threw it into traffic, which led to it being knocked down by the Penguins.  He did redeem himself on the play though, using an active stick to block the shot that came through as a result of his turnover, sending the puck over the netting for a faceoff.

The Penguins players on the powerplay were closing in on Schenn, and he was having trouble settling the puck down, which may have led to him quickly throwing the puck into traffic, in almost a panic or desperation move.  Still, it has been taught since the beginning of your hockey days that in the defensive zone, you need to get the puck off the boards and out, and keep the puck to the outside lanes.  In this case, Schenn didn’t put it up the middle, but it wasn’t exactly along the boards either, and the result was a potential chance for the Penguins.

In the third period I thought Schenn did a better job of anchoring himself to the slot in front of the net.  He did a better or job of staying in position and wasn’t chasing other players.

The Final Word: In a game where the Penguins were kept off the scoresheet, and Luke Schenn did a job keeping Evgeni Malkin, one of the league’s most dangerous players, in check, you have to come away from this one giving the young defender a positive review.

There were some things I thought he could definitely improve on, not the least of which was his over commitment at times.  Schenn is a player who, at his core, is at his best when he keeps things simple on the ice and doesn’t try to do too much.

There were instances in this game where he did an excellent job of getting to the net, blocking off the slot and high scoring areas, and kept the front of the net clear.  However, there were instances as well where he also seemed to overcommit.  He tried to do too much in front of the net at times, and this led to scoring opportunities for the Penguins.

I think as long as Schenn remembers why he was so successful, which is his simplicity, he has a real good chance at rounding out this season nicely as we hit the stretch run.  He needs to make sure he doesn’t overcommit on plays, and needs to make sure that he is more aware of who is marking who down low.

Schenn did a good job using his stick to get into lanes tonight as well, breaking up a few scoring chances.  He did make a bad pinch in the game, and also turned the puck over in his zone while trying to clear the puck straight out, rather than off the boards and out.

It will be interesting, going forward, to see if they continue to pair Schenn with Gardiner. While both are young players who are going to make mistakes, it is interesting in that their contrasting styles should lead them both to feeling more comfortable in their roles.

Gardiner, the smooth skating speedster who likes to jump into the rush, should allow Schenn simply stay back and play the stay at home defensive style that he is so good at, while conversely, Gardiner should feel more at ease jumping into the play knowing that Schenn will be staying back.

For Schenn, a player who has had his confidence shaken throughout this year, his game tonight wasn’t perfect.  However, the fact that none of his mistakes led to goals, and the fact that he did such a good job against Malkin tonight will hopefully give him a fair amount of confidence moving forward.

Saturday’s Iso Report subject is Phil Kessel

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About leafsnationlive

Hockey Blogger covering the NHL, specifically the Toronto Maple Leafs. This site will primarily be used for breaking news like trades and lineup notes.
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