When you’ve got bupkis in the goal column and you get the kind of bump Alex Chiasson got from coach Dave Tippett against the Arizona Coyotes Monday, you’d best make the most of it because while it looks like a promotion, it’s coach-speak for saying “show me something, kid.”
Instead of providing a jumpstart in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Coyotes, Chiasson was as flat as a dead battery on a chilly winter morning, providing nothing resembling a spark before Tippett changed up his lines again. Chiasson finished the night without a point and with one shot on goal in 12:47 of ice time.
Chiasson isn’t the only forward Tippett wants and needs more scoring from, but with 0-3-3 in the 13 games he’s played, he’s the poster boy for the flimsy production from everybody not named McDavid, Draisaitl and James Neal. Chiasson scored 22 goals for the Oilers last season – 13 at even strength, eight on the power play and one shorthanded.
We know Chiasson isn’t really a 20-goal forward – his 22 last season was a career high for a guy who is generally good for 10-12 – but at the very least you’d think he’d have something find the back of the net by this point in the season. Chiasson will never get a better chance than lining up alongside McDavid and Draisaitl, but that’s not an opportunity that comes along often if you don’t show the coach something.
“Trying to get him (Chiasson) going a bit. Looking for some other tweaks. We have had some guys play better lately. JJ has played well and taken some more minutes.” Tippett on new line combos.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) November 4, 2019
“I put him in that place to give him a good opportunity tonight and there wasn’t a lot happening there,” said Tippett, obviously less than impressed when asked about Chiasson post-game. “There’s a lot of pucks going through him, it’s just things . . . there’s not much generating there.”
Chiasson, 29, struggles to keep up in games with pace, and the Coyotes certainly play with that, but it’s not like he was somehow quicker than usual last season. When Chiasson is on his game, he gets to the prime scoring areas and deflects pucks or bangs in rebounds. He’s a handful in front and he’s got decent mitts for a big player.
He’s not going to roar up the ice alongside McDavid and Draisaitl, but he played 263 even-strength minutes with them last season and had some very good stretches. When Chiasson is hard on pucks, doing the board work and then going to the net, he can be very effective. We’ve seen it – just not so far this season.
Part of what made Chiasson such a good story last season is that he came to training camp on a PTO, earned himself one-year deal for $660,000 and then went out and potted 22 goals. He was rewarded by GM Ken Holland with a two-year deal worth $2.15 million a season. Fair money for a player who can score a little, spot in high in the line-up and give you some power-play production.
THE WAY I SEE IT
I’m not down on Chiasson or writing him off. Like I said off the top, he’s not the only forward who isn’t producing. Tomas Jurco, Markus Granlund, Patrick Russell and Riley Sheahan, no name four, have yet to find the back of the net. Gaetan Haas got his first against the Coyotes. Chiasson has shown we can expect more. He hasn’t been in the mix around the net, regardless of who he is playing with, as much as he needs to be. He can be better.
Tippett thought so too, thus the look, for as long as it lasted, with McDavid and Draisaitl Monday. Will Chiasson get another shot at it against St. Louis Wednesday, or might we see Zack Kassian, who started well on the top line then cooled off? Maybe it’ll be Sam Gagner, who skated on the top line today. I’m not sure. What I do know is Chiasson is capable of making a far more compelling case for himself than what we saw Monday.