I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really high on Austin Watson at the start of the season, but the guy is awesome. It’s not the hitting or the fights, it’s the commitment to defense. The guy will take every hit, dive in front of every shot, and sacrifice offense to keep the puck out of his net. And it’s wonderful to watch, especially considering he’s a winger, who are typically more offensively oriented.
If you watch closely, Laviolette will throw out a stitched-up defensive monster of Salomaki-Jarnkrok-Watson towards the final minute of every game that they hold a lead in. He trusts those guys to make the tough plays and keep the pucks away from Rinne. Putting Watson with the third line would be a conscious move to make them a shutdown line. Which I think is smart, that line could be valuable against teams with some top six firepower. The other good news is that Watson, like Sissons, is a righty and would fit in seamlessly.
Watson has put up less than impressive stats with two points in 16 games. Not only that but he owns a five on five Corsi of 45.55% and a Fenwick of 45.79%. Not good by any stretch of the imagination. He has similar zone starts to Sissons with 61.69% in the defensive zone. He also plays considerably fewer minutes with 12 a night on average. Unlike Sissons though, Watson has played the entire year with human anchor Cody McLeod on the fourth line I think more minutes with better quality linemates would do wonders for his scores. He looked especially good in the third period with the third line, as they played six minutes against the Crosby and Malkin lines, combined