Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Matt Hendricks…
|Matt Hendricks’ last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Most Washington Capitals fans would say it was a so-so season for Matt Hendricks. His counting stats have gone down a bit since 2010-11, but offensive numbers aren’t the reason why Hendricks is employed in the NHL – his grit, toughness and heart-and-soul attitude is the reason.
Hendricks has been relied upon to take on some important penalty kill minutes in recent years but didn’t have a good penalty-killing season in 2012-13. He also took penalties at a high rate, tied for the most on the Capitals roster. At the same time, he drew the second-most penalties on the team as well.
Hendricks ended the season with eight points in 48 games, a 14-point pace in an 82-game slate – up from nine points in 2011-12, down from 25 in 2010-11. It’s difficult to tally consistent point totals on the fourth line, but once again, offense isn’t the name of Hendricks’ game. It’s worth noting he posted a career-best 56.8% faceoff success rate, which could come in handy in Nashville if injuries occur down the middle.
Burning question for 2013-14: Will Hendricks provide “entertainment tax”?
After the Predators spent the free agent frenzy loading up on depth and experience, head coach Barry Trotz was pretty clear in what he wanted out of the new additions. “I wasn’t too happy last year at times, especially when certain people went down [to injury]. There wasn’t an entertainment tax coming into Bridgestone Arena,” he said in July. “There’s going to be a little bit of an entertainment tax if you are the visiting team. It’s going to be a little harder to come in here and that’s what we want.”
One thing that the 2012-13 Predators didn’t have was a swagger, mostly because they didn’t play with their identity. As a team, the Predators were pushed around too often in 2012-13. The free agent acquisitions should make them tougher to play against, and Hendricks – signed to a four-year, $7.4 million contract in July – is a part of that hopeful solution.
Known for regularly sticking up for teammates, Hendricks dropped the gloves more than any other Capitals player last season. He’s hard-nosed and doesn’t take anything from anybody. That’s not going to change in Nashville. Even though Rich Clune can stick his nose in any mess, Hendricks has more experience doing it and will have no problem going toe-to-toe with any opponent. A consummate team player, Hendricks will be an instant favorite in the crowd and locker room.