This video was recently up on Hot Oil (propelling, by my informal count, Moreau to victory in the third round of the hot-off), and holy fuck is it ever impressive. Particular highlights for me include the goal against Montréal, mostly because I was there for that game, and I remember remarking how troubled our powerplay must be if we've decided to put Ethan Moreau on it, pretty much the exact instant he walked off the boards and roofed a slapper from the top-left of the circle.
The things that stand out the most across the mere 13 or so goals shown here, to me, are how deceptively quick Moreau's shot is (by which I mean, even when he's winding up, the puck just rockets off his stick), and how incredibly fast he is , both in terms of acceleration and top speed (evidenced by the shorthanders), both of which I guess I technically knew about him, but frequently forget.
Anyway, I got to thinking: given his evident skill, is Moreau going to have a breakout year? I've remarked before on here on his ability to get into scoring positions, if not finish (I believe my words were something to the effect of, "If he scored on half the chances he creates, he'd be the power forward he was drafted as"). On the one hand, it's slightly ridiculous to think that a 31-year-old hasn't exactly peaked yet, and I don't mean to suggest that he's all the sudden going to start posting 80-point seasons for the rest of his career. What I'm thinking of is something more akin to what Todd Marchant had his last year here: a season where a reasonably skilled, hard-working guy starts getting the breaks he normally doesn't, and puts up a point total no one was really expecting.
To my mind, Moreau and Marchant are incredibly similar players (fast as all get-out, shut-down defensive players, and for whatever reason, more or less unable to put the puck in the ocean, despite their ability to get it to the end of the pier). While Marchant always put up a few more points (he was good for about 35-40 in his time here; Moreau's ran the gamut from 20 to, more recently, about 30), I don't think it's ridiculous that, given the situation, Moreau could see a significant jump in his points (maybe to about 50?). He's on to a team that, while deep at forward, is also fairly balanced, meaning it's unlikely any one line will see the lion's share of offense-friendly minutes. Though he'll probably be getting more tough minutes than people like Lupul, Torres and Hemsky, he does fairly well, scoring-wise, against people who have offensive prowess but are somewhat lax defensively: seven of his 27 points came shorthanded, which is kind of a ridiculous percentage (though not totally unheard of: Chris Phillips, Chris Kelly and Matt Stajan had similar percentages, though Moreau's right near the top). If Sykora stays as a centre, that makes Smyth, Torres, Moreau and a rookie (Mihknov, Jacques, Thoreson, Winchester) the top four spots on the depth chart, which, given Torres' streakiness, could mean he sees third- and even second-line minutes fairly frequently, playing with people like Lupul, Hemsky, Sykora and whatnot. Also, given that lineup, he's certainly not a guy who anyone is going to bother keying on unless he starts putting up big numbers in a hurry (which I sincerely doubt). He probably won't see any powerplay time, but I imagine he'll eat up a fair number of even strength minutes, especially protecting leads and such, which again ties into that scoring against bad defenders thing.
I don't know, I'm not saying this will definitely be the year Moreau busts out, but I think this is certainly a situation where he could (it might even be a contract year for him, though my high opinion of him doesn't allow me to think he's anything but a guy who play for love and to win). He's obviously going to be an important player even it he only got 20 points this year, but given the right couple of breaks, I think a 20-goal, 50-point season is well within his reach.
Or maybe this is just overcompensation for my defence fear. Whatever. Just watch the video again and tell me he doesn't look like a guy who should have had double his 11 goals last year.
Koo Koo Bananas
4 days ago