Quick Interlude in this series - we'll have more on the forwards after Thanksgiving, but this needed to be said first.
Two related complaints that have gotten a lot of traction lately are the complaints that Marty Reasoner has been a failure for this team and that this team could really use Zenon Konopka. Some of you might recall I sung Garth's praises for acquiring Reasoner in the offseason (short bits in this comment here and this post here) and called him a "HUGE Upgrade over Zenon." So what's happened?
Well, let's look at why Reasoner was considered to be an upgrade over Konopka. Last year, Konopka was used in an extreme defensive role due to his faceoff ability and his defensive skills. For this purpose, Konopka was used in defensive zone faceoffs as often as possible - he actually took more defensive zone faceoffs than any other player on the team at even strength, despite playing less than 9 minutes of EV time per game. (By comparison, Tavares played 15.) The team did try and give him weaker opponents when possible (it seems likely they did this by having him out there whenever the opposing first line wasn't the one taking the faceoff in our defensive zone), but for the most part, Konopka played EXTREMELY tough minutes.
So to sum up:
Konopka was used in an extreme defensive role, taking advantage of his faceoff skills and defensive skills.
Well, Marty Reasoner has proven to have nearly identical (slightly worse) faceoff skills than Konopka for his career. Moreover, last year, he also played a tough defensive role and performed amazingly at driving possession forward. Much better than Konopka in this respect. In addition, Reasoner averages nearly 30 points per 82 games for his career.
Essentially, Reasoner did everything Konopka did better other than being a fighter - and the team had other options for that.
So Reasoner should have been an upgrade this year due to his ability to drive possession when playing in a tough defensive role. But here's the problem: Unlike Konopka last year, REASONER HAS NOT BEEN USED IN A TOUGH DEFENSIVE ROLE THIS YEAR.
Marty Reasoner has instead faced super-weak competition - nearly the weakest on the team (basically tied with Blake Comeau) - and not been given a ton of defensive zone faceoffs - In fact EVERY OTHER CENTER ON THE TEAM HAS TAKEN MORE DEFENSIVE ZONE FACEOFFS THAN REASONER. Let's make this clear once again: Reasoner's specialties are Defensive Play and Winning Faceoffs. Despite this, when the Isles are in the Defensive Zone, Capuano has shown that he'd rather have ANYONE ELSE TAKE THE DEFENSIVE ZONE FACEOFF.
I cannot stress this enough: We got Reasoner to replace Konopka and play tough defensive minutes and Capuano has REFUSED TO USE HIM IN THIS ROLE.
Heck, this was the case even when Reasoner was paired with Pandolfo and Martin - despite the fact that Pandolfo is supposed to be a defensive forward as well - Capuano didn't want to use those two players in a defensive role for some reason. And Now Reasoner's paired with two of Comeau/Okposo/Nino, which are players you WOULD NOT WANT IN SUCH A DEFENSIVE ROLE (For clarification, there's no problem with those players in a 2-way role, but Reasoner's optimal usage would be in a solely defensive capacity, not in a 2-way role like Frans Nielsen).
Now let's be clear here, Reasoner's performance has seemed poor.....but it was actually decent to start the year....it only became terrible after his line was changed to include Comeau/Okposo/Nino. I'll leave that without comment.
In short, don't blame Reasoner for the Isles' struggles. His abilities are being absolutely wasted on this team, because of a coach who REFUSES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHY HE WAS BROUGHT TO THE ISLAND IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Okay, I'm done shouting.