There are a number of things that Mark Borowiecki brings to the table - he’s got a strong competitive drive, even among professional hockey players. He’s a big hitter, never hesitates to go into the dirty areas or stand up for his teammates, and by all accounts he’s great in the room.
And he does what he’s asked to do. That’s where the biggest difference could come from.
Over the past few seasons, Borowiecki has been held up by another segment of the fanbase as, well, not very good at hockey. If you’re a believer in statistical analysis in hockey, it’s not hard to see why. The numbers show the team spends an inordinate amount of time in their own end with Boro on the ice. The eye test doesn’t necessarily fare much better when he gets caught out of position, gets beat in a foot race, chases the hit leading to a play against, and so on.
But he does what he is asked to do.
Things that he has been asked to do, and specifically things that could be a drag on his play? Play a significant chunk of time on his off-side. Play forward for a few games. Play with Jared Cowen. That’s just the list of things we know for sure he was asked to do.
For all we know, some of his other decisions on the ice were based on instructions he was given. Focus on the hits. Worry about your man (or go help your partner) over your positioning on the ice. We can’t know these things for sure, but given how the team has played the last two seasons could you seriously write off the possibility? Borowiecki was far from the only one on the roster suffering from a number of those issues in the past two seasons (both in the fancystats and in the eye test), and the team as a whole seemed to suffer from some of them. At the very least, we’ve got comments from Boro himself from last January on the feedback he was getting from the coaches and management.
Which brings us, again, back around to he does what he is asked to do. The question becomes just what will Guy Boucher ask him to do?
Don’t look too hard at the first few pre-season games this year. Boro has looked pretty bad in both outings - possibly worse than usual - but Boucher wasn’t on the ice for a practice in camp until Wednesday night. That’s not a whole lot of time to get a new system in place, let alone time to give detailed, tailored, specific direction to a bottom pairing D.
Will Boucher be asking Boro to play differently than he has? Will the system demand a different style of play from him? He will never be a top pairing guy, but if some of his downsides have been largely due to directions from the coaching staff he could see some real improvement under a different system.
The question left is that if he is asked to change, will Boro be able to do it? Only time will tell, but we know for sure that he would try - all the coaching staff has to do is ask.