The Head Scratching Developmental Technique
Unusually, however, it seems that this pairing has often been tasked by the Ducks’ own coaching staff to tackle the opposition’s top 6 forwards. However, it is the second line in most cases. Here are some examples of the forwards Larsson has played the most minutes against in individual games:
- 18-10-2019 Hurricanes @ Ducks: Larsson plays 5:04 min vs Jordan Staal, 4:49 vs Teuvo Teravainen
- 29-10-2019 Jets @ Ducks: Larsson plays 6.07 min vs Nikolaj Ehlers
- 3-11-2019 Blackhawks @ Ducks: Larsson plays 5:58 min vs Dominik Kubalik
- 5-11-2019 Wild @ Ducks: Larsson plays 4:37 vs Eric Staal and Jason Zucker
- 10-11-2019 Oilers @ Ducks: Larsson plays 6:30 vs Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 5:54 min vs Connor McDavid
I’m sure you can see the point, though it is a trend across most of the home games this season should you care to look closely. Larsson is being matched by our own coaches against some of the toughest players in the league to defend. Possibly, this is all part of the planned development for Larsson. In the great words of Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” In that line of thinking, the thinking goes that if you can defend McDavid, you can defend pretty much anyone. However, going hand in hand with that has to be the knowledge that the young player in question is going to have a tough time getting favorable supporting numbers, particularly when paired with another player who is likely to struggle.
This is the crux of the argument. Is Larsson the player he’s been when playing with Fowler? Is Larsson a future shutdown defenseman who can play against the toughest opponents in the game? Is he someone they think can begin to play on the penalty? If he is this player, then he provides a point of difference from Brendan Guhle and Josh Mahura, both who are closer to being offensive-minded defensemen than defensive-minded.
Regardless, fans who have called for Larsson to be demoted and/or Josh Mahura to be called up should perhaps consider the above. Larsson is going to take longer to develop if in fact he ever does. Yet given that other defensive players the Anaheim Ducks have given up on (i.e. Marcus Pettersson) have turned out well at other destinations, it may behoove the faithful to be a little more patient.
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