Saturday, February 24, 2007
The Rise of Martin Skoula
As maligned as he was earlier this season, I think the time has come to say that Martin Skoula has turned his season around. He has become Lemaire's favorite defenseman, averaging over 20 minutes a game and currently sits with a plus 2 rating. For perspective, Petteri Nummelin is a minus 17. Skoula is finally playing with some confidence; he's a guy who can lead the breakout, play solid defense in front of the net and excels on the PK.
Now please don't get me wrong here. Martin is still prone to the occasional bad turnover and so forth. All I'm saying is that he no longer sucks as much as he used to. He has become an above-average defender that doesn't make bad mistakes very often. Not exactly high praise.
If I had to rank the Wild defense corps, I'd put them in this order: (1) Skoula (2) Kim Johnsson (3) Brent Burns (4) Nick Schultz (5) Keith Carney (6) Kurtis Foster and (7) Nummelin. Foster and Nummelin excel in the offensive end, but their play in front of the Wild net has been less than super. Johnsson's getting better, but he is clearly not the $4.0m offensive defenseman they hoped he was.
With the playoffs approaching, take a guess who the only member of this group that has their name etched on the cup? Number 41 -- his name is on the bottom row.