Is Chris Phillips’ Role Slowly Being Reduced?

 

Whenever a new coaching staff is brought in, there’s often a period of adjustment in which the players adapt to a different voice, fresh expectations and philosophical or tactical changes in the team’s preparation and on-ice system. Although it typically takes some time before the results of these changes manifest and be properly measured, one of the immediate consequences of any coaching change is how the player personnel is utilized.

This season is no exception. Although for Ottawa, it’s only four games in, one of the things that’s becoming readily apparent is the manner in which Paul MacLean is utilizing his defensive pairings.

Thanks to the time spent playing alongside Zdeno Chara and Anton Volchenkov, Chris Phillips has developed the reputation and prestige for being one of the organization’s “shutdown” defencemen who was often relied heavily upon to play against the opposition’s best offensive players.

Looking at the numbers through four games this season, Chris Phillips’ role is evolving from the days in which he was counted upon to fill those tough defensive minutes though.

Albeit, the four game sample size thus far is a relatively small sample size to analyze however, the numbers do reflect a change.

Here’s a brief look at how his numbers this season correspond from the 2010-11 season, when he had the team’s best Qual Comp rating amongst the team’s defencemen…

Season

TOI/G

Shifts / G

Qual Comp Amongst Defencemen

2010-11

21:31

25.7

0.042 (best)

2011-12

18:50

25.8

0.045 (third)

So where are Phillips’ tough assignments going?

In somewhat of a surprise, they’re going to Erik Karlsson (0.061 Qual Comp) and Filip Kuba (0.074 Qual Comp) instead.

Don’t believe me?

Courtesy of Behindthenet.ca, check out the most frequent individual opponents that each of Ottawa’s defencemen have lined up against.

It will be an intriguing development to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Assuming that MacLean’s use of Phillips stays consistent, it will become hard to stomach the fact that an organization that underwent such a thorough gutting towards the latter stages of the season, felt so compelled to re-sign Phillips to such a multi-year deal. Considering that there’s already a logjam on defence and the organization is trying to give minutes to David Rundblad, things are only going to get more convoluted when Matt Carkner gets healthy.

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