Since he was recalled earlier this season, Mark Borowiecki has been up and down. His brand of physical play has earned him a regular spot in the lineup, but it hasn’t been all rosy.
People used to say about star defenseman Chris Pronger that a penalty could be called against him on almost every shift, but he often got away with it because referees adapted to it and wouldn’t call things against him every time. It was just “the way he played.” However wrong that attitude was, the fact that he was a star defenseman often got Pronger the benefit of the doubt.
Borowiecki plays the game along the same line, albeit at a much lower skill level. He definitely doesn’t shy away from the physical aspect but he often needs to try to gain more of an advantage. For example, more often than not, he uses his free hand to shove the opponent to the ice when making a hit, something that comes off as either holding or roughing, depending on the night.
It has gotten to the point where I am not sure Paul MacLean can use Borowiecki to kill penalties any more. Twice against Detroit on Saturday he took minor penalties to put the Senators down 2 men. The second one took away a good scoring chance, but the fact is that he might not have the mobility to be an NHL level penalty killer.
Borowiecki has taken 7 minor penalties in the last 4 games, and that doesn’t include the phantom elbowing major and match penalty he received against Columbus. Three of those penalties resulted in the Senators going down 2 men and twice they resulted in goals against.
Borowiecki has to play along that fine line to stay in the NHL. He needs to be physical and assert himself, but he needs to pick his spots better, or he will become a liability. A big part of his game will be on the penalty kill, but if they can’t trust him in that area, he will be ticketed for Binghamton soon, regardless of the other attributes he brings.