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Andrew MacDonald up, Brendan Witt out

Katie Strang reports defenseman Andrew MacDonald has been called up for Monday's game in Boston, as Brendan Witt is excused for personal reasons. Best wishes to Witt and good luck handling whatever those are.

MacDonald is a team-leading +3 and has 1 goal, 6 assists in 19 games with AHL Bridgeport.

In terms of the lineup, sadly I don't think this is a drop-off. Witt's role has been rightly reduced this year, with him no longer playing as many minutes (16:03 per game vs. 20:18 last season), nor against as difficult a competition. He is still one of the most-used penalty killers on the team (2:20 per game, just behind Bruno Gervais and Radek Martinek among blueliners), but by one statistical measure, he's had the weakest 4-on-5 results relative to his teammates. At 5-on-5, through 20 games the ranking is not much different (relative +/- as well as Corsi).

Last year was a perfect storm of circumstances (including a knee injury and a rushed return); this year I think he's been a little better ... but good enough? Perhaps for a 3rd-pairing role.

The next question: Does MacDonald justify my saying there is no drop-off? That one's tough, as MacDonald's exposure last year was in limited minutes, against weaker competition. And numbers aside, it's impossible to peg what effect a major personnel change in the penalty killing unit will have. But I'm looking forward to seeing how he's doing, even if for only one game.