What's Going On With Tom Gilbert?

Tonight Bloomington Native Tom Gilbert will be a healthy scratch for the second time in his career; it just so happens that it will be the second consecutive game where he will be watching the game from above (this time he'll have the James Sheppard Memorial Popcorn Machine at his disposal)- it just so happens that The Wild won last game.

Gilbert is a putrid -13, which is one of the worst +/- in the League (to be fair it is a rather dubious stat). And although three goals and nine points isn't horrible, he hasn't registered a point in his last 10 games played, and just four shots on goal since his last point, an assist against Anaheim.

So...what the hell?
When Gilbert was acquired last year in a trade with Edmonton, the premise was that his puck moving ability would help this team immensely, and after a slow start, he was positively brilliant as the season wound down, playing upwards of 30 minutes a game numerous times. One would think that the same would hold true as well for this season- with the addition of Ryan Suter, in theory this team would have guys in all three pairings (Suter, Jonas Brodin, Gilbert, and Jared Spurgeon) who would be able to kick start the transition game by making that first pass or wheeling it out of the zone themselves.

Yet Gilbert's in the Press Box.

I looked at some of his underlying numbers and couldn't find anything that really caught my eye, although he and Justin Falk, whom he's been paired with mostly, average four penalty minutes against/60. Curious that he shares the lowest Shots Against/60 on Minnesota with Mike Rupp (21.7)- which may be a testament to his ability to move the puck. However- he is near the bottom of the team with 24 shots for/60; exlusive company held with the fourth line guys, some of the depth defenseman, and one prized rookie.
Since I simply do not have the ambition to go through all of his minus games and watch the video to see if he truly is responsible for the goals against, it may just be that he's been somewhat of a victim of bad luck (his shooting luck is certainly indicative of that) , since generally good things happen for Minnesota when he's on the ice.

It could come down to this- he's just not healthy. He's battled the flu this year, and one can certainly presume that the groin injury he suffered right before the beginning of the season may not be fully healed, which very well may not heal at all during the shortened but more frequent playing schedule. When it seems like its one thing after another sidelining you, it can be hard to get into a groove and establish a rhythm; it's worth noting that his usual defensive partner Justin Falk is inconsistent at best.

(Bummer that Marco Scandella's basically been a non-entity this year, because he and Gilbert were terrific last Spring.) 

But as we inch closer to the postseason and the near-certainty Minnesota will be apart of it, it would certainly be nice to get Gilbert going on a better track than he has in the last month or so.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, I have to say, it's nice to see a commentary on Gilbert that isn't bashing him from one side of the country to the other. You make some good points, I think the inconsistent/switching defensive partners has been a part of it as well as the health.

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  2. I was thinking this might be a chance for Gilbert to get right before the playoffs, when the club really needs him. It's never fun not playing, but if he gets right heading into the postseason, the Wild's playoff prospects improve.

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  3. I think they're resting him (or an injury). He's been playing fine.

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