The Andrej Sekera Watch

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The Sabres’ defense has seen it’s share of troubles this year.

Tyler Myers was just recovering from a troubling slump when he was injured. Christian Ehrhoff has provided some points from the point, but hasn’t produced the efficiency that saw him earn the award for Best Defenseman on the Canucks the last two seasons. Marc-Andre Gragnani simply refuses to hit. Mike Weber hasn’t been able to get his skates on the ice, and when he did, he was hurt. The rock-sterady presence of Robyn Regehr is now a presence in the infirmary, as well.

All the while, Andrej Sekera has quietly been putting together one of the better seasons of the defense corps. It’s time to show him some due respect.

Last season, I tried to call attention to Mike Weber’s stellar play on “buffalo74,” and called it the “Mike Weber Watch.” This year, it’s Andrej’s turn.

Andrej 300x217 The Andrej Sekera Watchbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Andrej.png 350w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

I'm watching you, Sekera. It's an honor to be picked, so don't screw this up.

Unfortunately, like Weber last year, Sekera is not enjoying a favorable rep around town. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite, with his play earning him jeers and on the Twitter and at the bars. “Soft,” “European,” (will Sabres fans ever get over that Euro thing?) and “Suckera” have all been favorite terms for the smooth skating Slovak. It’s mainly because of performances like this that get him grief from fans, but it’s about time we looked at the full picture.

Well, aside from the bone crunching hit Sekera threw on big Brooks Laich during the Sabres’ recent coach-killing of the Washington Capitals, you won’t see many big hits from Sekera. But he hits. He plays the body just as good as any other mobile, puck-moving defenseman.

Let’s have a stat-gander:

SekeraHits The Andrej Sekera Watchbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SekeraHits-300x124.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 459px) 100vw, 459px" />

From NHL.com.

The Sabres have been one of the lowest (usually the lowest) hitting teams in hockey, and having 5 offensive defensemen is a big part of that issue. Still, Sekera has been out-hitting most of his North American counterparts, without top-pairing ice time. You might notice his 27 blocked shots there, too. Again, he won’t deliver many guys on the opposition into next week, but he’s 3rd on the Sabres’ D in hits and 4th in blocked shots, (and just one behind Ehrhoff).

From there, let’s turn our stat-gandering attention to giveaways and takeaways. For this, ensure that you are sitting down.

SekeraGVATKA The Andrej Sekera Watchbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SekeraGVATKA-300x100.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 578px) 100vw, 578px" />

Not only is Andrej tops among the team D regulars in giveaways, he is also the sole regular to post a positive GvA/TkA ratio. On a defense that has been wildly unsteady and inconsistent, he’s been the exact opposite.

As for scoring, well Sekera is doing well despite having to fight for scraps of power play time behind Ehrhoff, Myers, Gragnani, and Leopold.

SekeraPoints The Andrej Sekera Watchbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SekeraPoints-300x121.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 468px) 100vw, 468px" />

We definitely need to see more scoring from Sekera, and we’ll see if his pace picks up on the power play while Myers is out.

Finally, everyone’s favorite statistical battle cry during arguments over defensemen: the plus/minus.

SekeraPlusMinus The Andrej Sekera Watchbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SekeraPlusMinus-300x113.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 512px) 100vw, 512px" />Tied for 2nd on the team, only behind the giveaway machine that is Marc-Andre Gragnani. Weird how that shakes out.

So folks, here’s where we stand 23 games and one day into the official Andrej Sekera Watch:

  • 3rd in hits (16)
  • 4th in blocked shots (27)
  • 1st in giveaways (7)
  • The only defensive regular on the team to have a positive GvA/TkA ratio (7-11)
  • 5th in points (5) (though for now he’s getting a pass until we see what he can do with more PP time)
  • 2nd (tie) in plus/minus (+5)

Huzzah, Andrej! Keep up the good work.

Go Sabres.

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