Mike Peca’s critical comments regarding Jay Bouwmeester have generated quite a bit of fuss, with the Flames organization standing behind Bouwmeester, and media people standing beside Peca’s right to give his opinion.
On the serious points, I’m largely in agreement with Kent Wilson: it’s a tempest in a teapot, without Ken King’s comments it would already be a dead story, Peca has the right to speak his mind, and this is the kind of commentary is the sort of thing that should be encouraged in general.
As for whether Peca’s comments were correct or not, I think he was partly right and partly wrong. Peca essentially made two points: the first, that Bouwmeester is easy to play against, and the second, that Bouwmeester isn’t really a high-end power play quarterback.
On the first point, I don’t see much evidence that Peca is correct. Certainly Peca’s numbers never benefitted from playing against Bouwmeester: in 11 games against Florida during Bouwmeester’s time there, Peca scored one goal, added four assists and finished with an even rating. Taking the totals he posted during those seasons and weighting them relative to games played per season, we would have expected two goals, four assists and a plus-1 rating. Bouwmeester routinely plays top opponents, and routinely puts up strong results. As for the charge of being casual, Bouwmeester blocks over 100 pucks every single season (he led the Flames with 126 blocked shots last season) and I have trouble reconciling the notion of putting one’s body in front of a shot with the notion of a casual approach to the game.
On the other hand, Peca’s point about Bouwmeester’s power play ability does strike me as accurate. Certainly it looks true based on last season, where Bouwmeester finished third of three Flames defencemen in points/60 during 5-on-4 play. In 2008-09, he finished second of a group of five Panthers’ defencemen in the same category. In 2007-08, when Florida finished with the sixth-best power play in the NHL, Bouwmeester ranked 39th in 5-on-4 points/60 among NHL defencemen to average more than 2:00 per night – right between Dan Hamhuis and Brad Stuart. Certainly, Bouwmeester’s a capable power play defenceman, but he’s nowhere near the top of an objective list of quarterbacks.