Saturday, November 18, 2017

Statisfaction 11.18: Barzal a Rising Force, Panarin Still Finding Game

Statisfaction is your daily smorgasbord of NHL numbers. Fancy stats, counting numbers, streaks, and more. Enjoy.

1. Barzal Bustin Out for Isles

Anybody who has watched the Islanders regularly this season has become familiar with the following: Mathew Barzal flying down the wing and creating chaos for opposing defenses. The kid plays an up-tempo game at breakneck speed, and his ability to control and distribute the puck is paying big dividends for the Islanders. He's been even more lethal of late, as he's gotten used to the NHL game and realized that he can burn these defenders in the same way that he burned defenders in juniors.

Also of note is the fact that Barzal has developed really good chemistry with Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd. The trio has been the Islanders best and seems to have solidified the second line, which is sure to create matchup dilemmas in the months to come as the Isles roll out Tavares/Lee/Bailey and Barzal/Ladd/Eberle as their top two lines.

Here's the lowdown on the line's possession numbers:

2. Panarin Still Finding his Form

It's definitely a work in progress for Artemi Panarin in Columbus this season. He scored his 4th of the season last night in Columbus in the Jacket's 2-0 win over the Rangers, but things just haven't clicked into place for Panarin (or the Jackets PP, which is last in the NHL at 10.5%).

Panarin is scoring goals at a .57 per 60 min clip this season, compared to .76 last season. He's getting his shots, at 7.2 per 60 mins, but the shooting percentage is down to 7.9%.

3. Brayden Schenn is living the life in St. Louis

Brayden Schenn has really benefited from the trade that sent him to St. Louis for Jori Lehtera in the offseason--and so have the Blues. Schenn has been an assist machine playing alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz (nice work if you can get it). Check out the difference. He's up to 2.73 assists per 60 this season, compared to 1.28 last season (all phases). Also of note is the fact that Schenn has already matched last season's even strength goal total of four.

4. Penguins PDO?

Strange, but true. The Penguins have the lowest 5-on-5 PDO in the NHL at .95. Last year they had the NHL's fourth-highest PDO at 1.012. Somehow, despite the struggles of Sidney Crosby (nine even-strength points in 21 games, just snapped 11-game goalless drought), the failing of Antti Niemi and the minus-20 at 5-on-5, the Pens are hanging in there at 11-7-3.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cam Atkinson Signs Seven-Year Deal to Stay with Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Cam Atkinson to a seven-year, $40.25 million deal on Thursday (full report from Aaron Portzline of The Athletic), ending contract speculation about the team's leading scorer in the 2016-17 season. Atkinson was in a contract year, but now he's a part of the Blue Jackets' long-term future at a price tag that comes in a little lower than most 34-goal scorers would get.

The 28-year-old is now locked up through the 2024-25 season at a very manageable cap hit, which means that the club and GM Jarmo Kekalainen can get to work on other pressing matters. Artemi Panarin and Zach Werenski will need new deals at the end of next season, while Jack Johnson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara, Matt Calvert and Boone Jenner will all need new deals this summer.

Getting Atkinson, who has scored 104 goals since the beginning of 2013-14 and 34 last season, locked up on a team-friendly deal will make things a lot easier on the Columbus brain trust this summer and beyond. This looks like a great deal, provided that Atkinson keeps putting up 20 to 30 goals for at least the first half of the term.

Nylander Breaks Scoreless Tie to Propel Leafs to Victory over Devils in OT

Life without Auston Matthews has proven to be a character building affair for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And William Nylander is officially off the schneid.

The team won its fourth straight without their star center in the lineup on Thursday, notching a hard-fought overtime win thanks to this late seeing-eye beauty by William Nylander at 4:57 of overtime.

"I don't know," said Nylander of the goal. "Just got it to the net."

The Leafs improve to 13-7-0 with the win, while New Jersey drops to 11-4-3.

Kamenev Suffers Broken Arm in First Game with Avs

Vladislav Kamenev's first game with the Colorado Avalanche did not go well. The 21-year-old made his season debut tonight at Pepsi Center in Denver, and he was sent to the sidelines with a broken arm after this massive hit from Brooks Orpik.

He had 4:06 of ice time before the injury. Orpik was not penalized for the hit.

Gudas Ejected for Wicked Slash after Refs Watch Replay

Radko Gudas could be in trouble with the NHL again.

The always ornery Flyer defenseman got carried away at the end of a scrum and took a whack at the head of Matthew Perreault.

Here's the video:

It was an interesting process that the refs took to make the call. Originally they had matching minors for both players, but after a few moments, some looks at the replays, and a brief conference, they tagged Gudas with a major for slashing and a game misconduct.

Much is currently being made of the fact that the referees may or may not have been influenced by the reaction of the crowd to the video replay, but judging from the severity of Gudas' slash and how it all went down, the real injustice would have been if Gudas were allowed to continue to play in this game.

Next we'll wait and see how the NHL's Department of Player Safety views this dangerous play by Gudas. He has been suspended twice already in his career, and on several other occasions narrowly avoided suspensions. Could this be No.3?

Here's the full look at the play in real time, from another angle:

Statisfaction 11.16: Best 5-on-5 Teams

Statisfaction is your daily smorgasbord of NHL numbers. Fancy stats, counting numbers, streaks, and more. Enjoy.

1. Tampa's the NHL's Best 5-on-5 Team (surprise):

We compiled some stats on 5-on-5, looking specifically at the difference between goals for and goals against per 60 minutes. Of course there are a lot of other metrics (possession and otherwise) that we could look at, but we wanted to look at the purest metric of them all in this case. As it turns out the Lightning are the best, with a .89 differential between goals for and goals allowed. The Blue Jackets were No.2 on the list, thanks largely to the work of their defense and Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob has a .928 save percentage and a 2.16 GAA--that helps. Here are the top seven teams, rankied by difference between goals for and goals allowed at 5-on-5, per 60 mins.

2. Jackets Power Play is Bottom Barrel

It's a good things the Blue Jackets have been doing so well at 5-on-5 because their power play has been absolutely abysmal. The Blue Jackets are currently the only team whose power play is clicking at less than 10 percent this season.

The have managed five power play goals and allowed two shorties to make matters worse.

3. McDavid with Draisaitl, McDavid without Draisaitl

Thanks to NaturalStatTrick, we can now know exactly what Connor McDavid has been doing on ice with and without Leon Draisaitl. The results seem to prove that the scoring chances come whether these two are together or not. So why not split them up most of the time and use them only for matchups and variety?

Probably better to ask Todd McLellan that one.

4. Labanc, Thornton and Pavelski: A failed line or worth another shot?

kevin Labanc has had a bit of a rough ride this season and the 21-year-old was even sent down to the AHL for a few games before being recalled before last Sunday's game against Los Angeles. Labanc spent most of the young season on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but the line was pretty bad defensively and ended up giving up more than it got. Small sample size though. WE took a look at the numbers of the Sharks with and without the trio on the ice and it shows that San Jose's offense is aided quite a bit when all three are on together. Perhaps Peter DeBoer will want to use this line situationally--but definitely not to protect a lead.

5. The best pairing in hockey?

It's always a tough question. There are a lot of great blue line pairings in the NHL right now, and many of them help their teams in different ways (some by pushing the offense, some by being downright stingy), but for our money, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are the best defensive tandem in the NHL right now).

The pair have been on ice for 15 goals for and just eight against while putting up the NHL's sixth-best CF% of 57.4 percent at 5-on-5. They have already logged 309 5-on-5 minutes as a tandem, more than any other pair in the NHL.

Also Doug Hamilton and Mark Giordano in Calgary and how about Charlie McaVoy and Zdeno Chara? That's a fun pair to watch and they've been very effective in Boston this season. Here are the top 10 possession pairs, 200 mins minumum ice time, through Nov. 15.

Travis Zajac Set to Return for Devils

The New Jersey Devils will get a key offensive player back on Thursday night when they meet the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Center.

Center Travis Zajac will rejoin the club after missing the first 17 games of the season due to offseason pectoral surgery.

Zajac will center Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford.

The 32-year-old Winnipeg native has put up at least 40 points in three of the last seasons for the Devils. It will be very interesting how well he plays with the revamped, speedier Devils that we are seeing this season. New Jersey currently sits atop the Metropolitan Division at 11-4-2.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Relief on the Way for Vegas Goaltending? Maybe

Just when the Vegas Golden Knights think things can't get any worse, they do. The team's fifth different goaltender saw action on Tuesday night in Edmonton as Maxim Lagace was injured and pulled during Edmonton's 8-2 blowout of the Golden Knights at Rogers Place. That opened the door for 19-year-old Dylan Ferguson to finish the game and it left questions marks heading into Wednesday's practice day.

You know you want to know more about Vegas' seventh-round pick in last June's NHL Entry Draft (he hasn't even collected his first NHL paycheque), so click over to this CBC piece to read about the British Columbia native.

Here's a snippet, if you haven't clicked yet:

When the team isn't on the road, Ferguson is living at the Red Rock Casino, about 25 kilometres from the Golden Knights' home at T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas strip. "It's pretty nice, except I can't really do anything," the teen said with a smile. "I'm just all denned up in my room and hibernating up there all day and going to practice."

But it appears that things are starting to turn in Vegas, and it's not clear if Ferguson is going to get his first NHL start in his home province on Thursday. Malcolm Subban was back in net, as was Lagace, and the two joined Ferguson for practice today.

When asked if Subban might be fit enough to play, the typically noncommital coach Gerard Gallant was as typically noncommital as ever. "I'm not in charge of that stuff," he said.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who suffered a concussion in his fourth game, has been on the ice a bit, but not at practice. He's still listed as day-to-day.

Nobody has anything new on Dansk either. At least that's what Gallant is going with:

The 10-6-1 Golden Knights will be in Vancouver on Thursday. They have gone 4-5-1 in their last ten with a hodge podge of goalies.