Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mark Barberio Autograph Card

It looks like Montrealer Mark Barberio will draw out of the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight against the New York Rangers, as Matt Carle is expected to return to action.

Barberio, despite finishing with a -1 and having made a mistake on a Rick Nash goal (which makes him the 387th to do so, considering Nash's regular-season and playoff totals), was by no means responsible for that goal (Cédric Paquette was in position to repair the error), and certainly not for the Bolts losing that game, which the Rangers won 5-1.

An offensive defenseman in the same vein as Nathan Beaulieu, Barberio dominated in the LHJMQ with the Moncton Wildcats, and did the same at the AHL level, winning the Eddie Shore Award as the league's best defenseman one year, making the end-of-season Second All-Star Team the next, both times reaching the Calder Cup Finals (and winning it the first time).

Like Beaulieu, he just needs to translate that play to the NHL, which is hard to do without top-4 minutes. He's done everything that was asked of him, and I'd say he's improved his defensive play by at least 200% in the past two years, and in that regard he might benefit from the teachings of a Victor Hedman.

Even the analytics ''support'' his case:
Just 5.90% of Tampa Bay's shots at 5v5 became goals when Barberio was on the ice, even though the team shot over 9% on the year, an enormous difference. Barberio's presence on the ice didn't come with a significant dip in scoring chances, either; the team had 30.45 chances per 60 minutes with Barberio on, about the same amount as with both Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. So Barberio helped move things in the right direction, helped get the team in position to score, and yet, for some reason, score they did not.
Couple that fact with below average goaltending behind him (Tampa Bay goalies stopped 91.74% of 5v5 shots with Barberio on compared to 91.98% overall) and you have a recipe for Mark Barberio's season; quietly effective but seemingly invisible due to lack of scoring, and scapegoated at times due to the play in net behind him. Every guy on Tampa Bay's blue line makes mistakes with the puck; Barberio's just ended up in the net more often than not through no fault of his own.
Although, honestly, a lot of that is a crock of bull. If you're going as far as to analyze how many shots per second occur when one player's on the ice, ''puck luck'' should not factor in, and numbers like ''Tampa has a worse shooting percentage when he's on the ice'' should be looked into more closely to see if that's because the rest of the players are fourth-liners or if he really does factor in the number.

He should be developed as if he were a first-unit defender, to at least be shaped into a second-unit defenseman (and, let's be honest, Hedman's on the left side of Tampa's defense for another decade as the #1 guy). But second-unit time requires he play with first- or second-liners in front of him, not checkers and ''role players'' who can't finish his plays.

He's proven all he needed to at the AHL level, and he's good enough to be on any team's regular six-man unit, save perhaps the Rangers'. The question is just whether it'll be on Tampa's.

And so, here he is rocking the Lightning's blue (home) jersey, from Panini's 2013-14 Rookie Update set, and Prizm sub-set:
It's card #389, with a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph, part of the Dual Rookie Class and of the ''Cracked Ice'' variety that Panini inserted in Rookie Update boxes that encompassed the ''missing'' cards from all of its other lower-end and mid-range products (Prizm being particularly devoid of rookies), in addition to a stand-alone base set. Boxes of 50 cards sold (and still sell) for roughly $75, which is a decent deal.

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