Mike Hoffman’s Usage Has Been Ridiculous


It’s Tuesday today, and that means the beginning of a new weekly segment for me called “Tuesday’s Tirade.” It’s pretty self-explanatory, as I will essentially rant about whatever pressing issue is in my mind that I would like to talk about. This week, I have major issues with the usage of Mike Hoffman.

Hoffman was a revelation this season for the Ottawa Senators, as the rookie finally was able to score at a good rate, proving that he can do it at every level along the way. He lead the team in goals with 27, although he had a rough go the last two months or so of the season partially due to bad luck and sub-par play, but also due to limited ice time.

Hoffman has been on the fourth line for a while now, but nobody really has a good answer as to why. This series, his ice time in each game has been 12:21, 12:40, and 10:26. His average ice time ranks 4th last on the team, only ahead of David Legwand, Alex Chiasson, and Chris Neil. Seems to me like one of those things are not like the other.

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His lack of ice time is truly dumb-founding, as he is one of the most offensively gifted players on the team. The criticism on him has always been on the defensive side of things. But that argument is weak, because if you watch the games he is no worse than other fourth line players, or another Ottawa sniper like Bobby Ryan. In fact, sometimes he can be impressive in the defensive zone as he uses his speed so well and is able to get back quickly.

Why he has been on the fourth line for weeks now is beyond me, and it’s gotten essentially all other Senators fans angry.

Almost every game, it is the same complaints from fans, but they are valid. The thing that makes no sense to me, is if you were trying to “send a message” to Hoffman, why would you punish him by putting him with bad players for 10 minutes a night? That surely will not get him out of his slump, which just makes the situation even worse.

Not only is Dave Cameron punishing Hoffman by demoting him, his is punishing the rest of the lineup. The second line right now is Milan Michalek/Mika Zibanejad/Bobby Ryan. I don’t totally have an issue with that, but with Hoffman on the fourth line, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s clear that Zibanejad and Ryan both thrive when Hoffman is on their wing, but not so much with Michalek.

Hoffman and Ryan have a CF% of 52.3%, and a GF% of 56%. However, without Hoffman, Ryan’s CF% drops to 45.8%, and his GF% drops to 44.4%. The results are similar with Zibanejad, as the two of them share a 51.8% CF% and a 60.4% GF%. But when Hoffman is gone, Zibanejad drops to 47.3% CF%, and a 36.7% GF%. Those are quite massive drop-offs in production for possession and goal totals.

The team’s leading goal scorer and possession driver is being wasted on the fourth line

The same cannot be said for Hoffman, as without Ryan and Zibanejad he still performs reasonably well. In both cases, he has a positive CF% without one of them, and also a 59.5% GF% without Zibanejad, and a 65.7% GF% without Ryan. Those numbers are quite ridiculous and they show how Hoffman is running the show on that line. It’s not as if these are small sample sizes either, as those two are Hoffman’s most common linemates this season (at least 547+ minutes) and he has also played 372+ minutes without each of them.

Those numbers can be a bit confusing I know, but if you don’t understand that, the point is that when Hoffman is one the ice the play of Zibanejad and Ryan go way up. But when Zibanejad and Ryan are not on the ice, it’s not as if Hoffman is completely lost. If you’re interested, here is where I found these numbers. It’s not that I have an issue with Michalek on that line so much, but it’s the fact that the team’s leading goal scorer and possession driver is being wasted on the fourth line.

Here is his “HERO” chart, measuring different metrics and ranking them according to first liners, second liners, etc. It’s quite impressive.

The only thing that is by far sub-par is his ice time. Go figure.

I’m not sure how different the series would look if Hoffman were playing 15-20 minutes a night, but I would bet that the Senators have at least one win. Now, looking ahead to tomorrow’s game he will be playing with Zack Smith and Chris Neil, wasting his potential once more.

I have liked a lot of Cameron’s lineup decisions this year, but this one is the most peculiar and infuriating. You’re not going to win as much with a guy like “The Hoff” playing with guys who haven’t scored in what seems like years.

And there’s your tirade for this Tuesday.

Next: Can Chris Phillips Contribute Again?