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.

Watch: Artem Anisimov Scores First Career Hat Trick

The Chicago Blackhawks scored six goals in the final 20:52 and three of them went to Artem Anisimov.

The Russian recorded his first career hattie as the Blackhawks notched a big win to stop the Rangers six-game winning streak at United Center on Wednesday night.

It was the 20th hat-trick in the NHL this season.
The 20-year-old now has 137 NHL goals. The Rangers and the Blackhawks now have identical records of 9-8-2.

Watch: Versteeg Blows Tire and Dylan Larkin Dazzles with Shorty

Wow. Dylan Larkin can stop on a dime, and when you are as fast as he is, stopping on a dime can turn the world on its ear. T.J. Brodie's reaction pretty much says it all on this play.

Flames, Oilers Come to Blows and Brawl in Blowout

Moral of the story? You lose 8-2 and you end up fighting mad.

Oh, and old-time hockey isn't dead... yet.

It was 6-2 in the third when all this fun extracurricular activity occurred in Detroit during the Red Wings 8-2 win over Calgary. Luke Witkowski was being escorted off the ice but a gentle poke by Matthew Tkachuk lured him back to the playing surface, where a melee quickly ensued.

Here's a longer look at what happened:

And some commentary from Twitterverse:

Much penalties were handed out and Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening connected on power play goals to salt away the victory for Detroit.

Anthony Mantha and Athanasiou each scored a pair and the Wings went 4-6 on the power play to improve to 9-8-2. The Flames were without Mike Smith and suffered because of it. Eddie Lack only stopped 10 of 15 shots before being pulled for Jon Gilles at 24:27.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Oilers Swap Cammalleri for Jokinen in Deal with Kings

The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings swapped free agent signees to fill perceived needs in their roster on Tuesday.

Desperate for secondary scoring the Oilers have acquired 35-year-old Mike Cammalleri to bolster their bottom six and power play.

The two-time 30-goal scorer has not scored over twenty since 2014-15, but he's a proven sniper with a career shooting percentage of 12.3%.

The reason that the Kings made the deal for 34-year-old Jussi Jokinen was less obvious. Cammalleri had seven points in 15 games and was a plus-1, so he wasn't exactly a bust at a $1 million cap hit. Jokinen has struggled to get puck luck in Edmonton, but he's been a positive possession player (his CF% is 58.27) who has one of the highest Expected Goals percentage in the NHL (72.97%), per Corsica. The Finn has put up at least 40 points in three of his last four NHL seasons, so it's likely that his production will pick up in Los Angeles. He's put up just one point and a minus-3 in 14 games for the Oilers.

L.A. Kings Insider thinks that the Kings must be searching for a more typical bottom six forward that possesses better defensive awareness and some more physicality. Jokinen has been that player for most of his career, but it's fair to wonder if he can even be effective in that role given what he's produced in Edmonton thus far.

Cammalleri could help the Oilers power play, but it has been a while since he has made a significant impact on his team's power play. If he doesn't the Oilers will be stuck with a forward who is a negative possession player that is more of a defensive liability than Jokinen.

Carey Price Is Injured Again, but Says He Won't Be Out Long

Carey Price revealed that he injured himself prior to the Canadiens' game against the Minnesota Wild on November 2; since then he's been struggling with an injury, his recovery stagnant.

"I'm just going to make sure I take my time with it and it won't be very long," said Price of the mystery injury.

Price said he decided to take himself off the ice for a few days to give himself time to reassess. He has no timeline for a return (he did have one initially but things have not progressed as planned).

"Just wasn't getting better," he said. "It was getting stagnant so I just decided to give it a rest for a couple of days."

Price has struggled, even before the injury. He is 3-7-1 with a 3.77 GAA in 11 starts this season. He has allowed four or more goals in six of his last seven starts.

It is noteworthy that Price played a full game before disclosing his injury, something that his General Manager talked about today. “I was not aware he got hurt in the warm up,” Marc Bergevin said on Tuesday. “I found out after the fact. I didn’t know until the next day.”

Eric Engels of SportsNet was at the game in question and gave this critical take of the situation.

Rookie Charlie Lindgren has been keeping the Canadiens in the mix by playing stellar in his elevated role. He has gone 3-1-1 in five starts and possesses a .957 save percentage.

It's hard to try and read between the lines of Price's comments, but the fact that he's stopped skating for a few days can't be good for the short-term. The last time Price was seriously injured, he ended up never returning after leaving the lineup. He was injured in November 25th of 2015 and made repeated attempts to return but ended up shutting down his season as the Habs were floundering and out of the playoff hunt.

Montreal plucked struggling goaltender Antti Niemi off of waivers from the Panthers to shore up their depth at the position. Niemi has been horrible this season, putting up a 7.50 GAA in three starts with the Penguins before being let go. He was picked up by Florida and played two games in relief before being waived. The 34-year-old is a former Cup winner that has 428 games of NHL experience and 227 wins.

Werenski's OT Winner Defeats Habs

The Columbus Blue Jackets won a good back-and-forth battle with Montreal, but not before the Habs picked up a point thanks to a game-tying goal by Paul Byron at 12:14 of the third.

Columbus has now won two in a row, and they have gone 6-1 in games that have been tied after regulation. Columbus has won four games in overtime and two in a shootout.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sharks Report: Joe Thornton May Never Be at 100 Percent

It was a good weekend for the San Jose Sharks. The team has certainly had its share of struggles this season, but with solid goaltending, stingy defense and some decent depth, the Sharks managed to sweep home and away games against the Canucks and Kings to improve to 10-6-0 on the season, which is good for third in the Pacific Divison.

Are they comfortably in playoff position after nearly 20 percent of the regular season? Absolutely not. Are there deficiencies across the lineup? Absolutely. But guided by veteran presence and a whole lot of grit, the Sharks look like a team that will hang around all season and likely lock up a playoff spot.

But that doesn't mean that this team is without issues. And the biggest one this week appears to be the health of Joe Thornton. Thornton logged 15:43 of ice time against the Lightning on Wednesday and then was down even further, to 14:00 in Saturday's victory over the Canucks.

When pressed on the issue, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was quick to explain his process, and he was surprisingly open.

"If I was to say he's 100 percent healthy it wouldn't be truthful," DeBoer said. "So, you know, he's not. But he's good enough to help us out there."

DeBoer says Thornton's ice time was partly due to circumstance, due to the fact that the Sharks had a lot of penalties to kill, and he liked the jam of his fourth line, so he kept them on the ice for some extra shifts.

"It wasn't anything alarming," DeBoer said.

Thornton has 10 points in 16 games, including four on the power play, and DeBoer says that Thornton is still vital to his team's offense, no matter what percent health his surgically repaired left knee is at right now.

"Let's be honest, he's a great player. At 80 percent he can still help us. And he knows that. If he gets to a point where he can't help us I'm comfortable that he's smart enough to say 'Hey I can't go tonight.'"

He elaborated further, when asked if Thornton was 100 percent to start the season. "No, he wasn't 100 percent," he said. Then he was asked if Thornton would ever be 100 percent. "I don't know, that's a good question," DeBoer said, adding: "This guy, he is pushing the envelope, and we're dealing with a little bit of that, and that's the greatness of him."

It sounds good in theory, Thornton being this wounded Yeti on skates that is somehow impervious to the pain. You could certainly romanticize it, especially when his production isn't suffering all that much at the moment. But the reality is that Thornton is 38 and playing at less than 100 percent could lead to future injuries or future diminished play. Thornton's ice time, and the level of his play, will need to be closely monitored as the season progresses. It'd be better for him to take a few weeks in December than to be forced out of the lineup in March when the team will need him to lead.

Thornton's 5-on-5 Corsi Percentage is as low as it has been in years at 52.96, but it's not alarmingly low. What is slightly alarming is that when Thornton is on ice at 5-on-5 the Sharks are getting less than 50 percent of scoring chances (48.73)--the Sharks have generated at least 53.94 percent of scoring chances with Thornton on the ice in every season since 2010-11, so this is something new.

This is a story that we will likely be visiting through the winter. Let's hope Thornton gets the rest he needs and is able to stay healthy.

Labanc Back in the Bigs

It was a short two-game stint in the AHL for Kevin Labanc. The 21-year-old scored a goal and added three assists for the Barracuda to earn a swift call up to the Sharks. He was in uniform for the Sharks 2-1 win at Staples Center on Sunday, playing with Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker. It was only a matter of time for Labanc, who is tied for sixth on the club in points with seven at the moment. San Jose has the NHL's fourth-lowest goal total (44), and the second-lowest 5-on-5 total (24). This team badly needs what a shifty sniper like Labanc can bring.

"He went down, he played great," said DeBoer. "He was the best player on the ice down there according to reports. Let's be honest. He's got seven points. ... He creates offense every night. The guys we're deciding on pulling in or out aren't doing that. It's hard to keep a guy like that out of the lineup when you are looking for offense."

Labanc was a part of a strange power play with the Barracuda on Saturday. Head coach Roy Sommer used five forwards on the top unit. They went 0 for 5, but it was something to see.

Sharks Goaltending Duo Standing Tall

How good have the Sharks been between the pipes? Very.

Aaron Dell and Martin Jones rank No.1 and No.2 in the NHL among goalies that have played in at least six games. Dell is 2-2 with a 1.94 GAA and a .934 Save Percentage; Jones is 8-4-0 with a 2.12 and a .925 save percentage.

Each has one shutout.

The Sharks goalies have combined for a .927 save percentage while shorthanded--that's good for second in the NHL this season.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Puljujarvi Scores His First Goal in Season Debut

Jesse Puljujarvi got the call-up on Friday to return to the Oilers after a month in the AHL. That decision is already paying dividends for both parites, as the Finn pumped in his first of the season to bring the Oilers level during the first period of the Rangers-Oilers tilt at Madision Square Garden.

Nice work for the 19-year-old. He scored one goal in 28 games with the Oilers last season. But beware--Puljujarvi got his first in his NHL debut last season and did not score in the next 27 games.

Statisfaction 11.11: Crosby's Struggles, Holtby's 200

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

1. Skidding Sid Crosby?

Is the brutal run of winning two Stanley Cups and a World Cup of Hockey catching up with Sidney Crosby this autumn? Whatever the case, Crosby struggles continued in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Capitals. The winner of the last two Conn Smythe awards has not scored in a goal in his last ten games and he has just three assists while putting up a minus-9 in that span.

Crosby has 13 points and is a minus-14 in 18 games for the Pens.

2. Holtby Second-Fastest to 200 wins

How great of a goaltender is Washington's Braden Holtby? Well, he's winning at a near record clip. Holtby locked down his 200th career win on Friday, which makes him the second-fastest goalie in NHL history go get to 200 wins.

Only Ken Dryden got there faster.

3. Luongo Moves into Fourth on the All-Time Win List

Speaking of great goaltenders, there was another in a seemingly endless litany of milestones for Roberto Luongo on Friday night. The Panthers netminder climbed into fourth on the NHL's all-time list for wins with No.455. Luongo passed Curtis Joseph and is now 29 wins behind Ed Belfour for third on the list.

Luongo passed Terry Sawchuk on Tuesday night to move into third place on the NHL's all-time games played list with 972 (last night's was game No. 973). Lifetime, Luongo's record now stands at 455-368-33-85.

4. Brock Boeser is your NHL rookie points per 60 leader

The Canucks rookie is looking like a star in the making. Brock Boeser's 4.09 points per 60 lead all NHL rookies. The 20-year-old has 14 points (five goals) in 13 games for the surprising Canucks thus far.

Boeser is currently 4th in the NHL in that category (minimum 10 games) behind Steven Stamkos (5.46), Nikita Kucherov (5.01) and Johnny Gaudreau (4.31).

He's one of just six players (min 10 games) that is putting up four or more points per 60.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Puljujarvi Recalled by Oilers as Slepyshev Goes to IR

The Edmonton Oilers have recalled Jesse Puljujarvi. The No.4 overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft will play on Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.

"It's an opportunity for him," said Oilers coach Todd McLellan. "He's not going to be our saviour.

Puljujarvi will likely get some top six minutes on Saturday for a club that is sorely lacking secondary scoring. Edmonton has scored 35 goals, tied for lowest in the NHL, and Connor McDavid has been involved in over 50 percent of the team's goals through 15 games.

McLellan is excited to see how much Puljujarvi has developed during the last month in the AHL. The 19-year-old Finn has a goal and four assists in ten games with Bakersfield this season.

"We'll likely play him in the top six. We'll look for his shot and his ability to score," said McLellan. "We'll see if he's been able to work on some of the things that we asked him to defensively, and his checking skills."

McLellan wants scoring, but he's even more focused on Puljujarvi's ability to play without the puck as a defender.

"When you're an offensive player at a young age--you see it with a lot of first-round picks--you tend to not be as sharp defensively as you need to be. We've worked with him, we've talked to him about those situations and all indications are he's working hard to clean that part up. If you don't have an impact on a game offensively on any given night you still have responsibilities to contribute all over the rink--young players have to learn that."

The Oilers will be without Anton Slepyshev, who was placed on IR, as well as Drake Caggiula, who injured his foot on Nov.7. McLellan said he did not expect Caggiula to skate until the team returns home from its current four-game road trip on Monday.

Statisfaction 11-10: Flames Top Line Rolling, Zucker on Fire

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

1. Flames Top Line is Crushing it

It's been a very nice six games for Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland. The trio has put up 24 points in the Flames last six games.

Gaudreau is tied for third in the NHL with 22 points at the moment. Monahan is 12th overall in points per 60 minutes at 3.25, per Natural Stat Trick, while Gadreau ranks 16th with 3.18 points per 60 (min TOI 99 mins).

2. Kailer Yamamoto Had a Knack for Good Chances

Diminutive yet explosive forward Kailer Yamamoto was sent back to juniors recently, but advanced stats show that he had a nice knack at generating high quality scoring chances while he was up with the Oilers. He still leads all players in high danger shot attempts at 5-on-5, with 7.87 per 60. Micheal Ferland, of the aforementioned en fuego trio in Calgary is No.6 on that list. Here are the top 10, per Natural Stat Trick.

3. Jason Zucker is Driving the Bus for the Wild

No player had ever scored five consecutive goals in Minnesota Wild franchise history, but that changed last night when Jason Zucker notched a nattie hattie in the third period to power the Wild to a 3-0 win over the Canadiens at Bell Centre.

Even more interesting is the fact that Zucker had produced five goals in his previous 30 games before he reeled off five in a row for the Wild this week.

4. Donskoi's Dominance San Jose's Joonas Donskoi has the highest CF% in the NHL at 63.24 and he also has the highest xGF +/- at 5.46. Donskoi also has the NHL's Game Score per 60 of 4.67. It is even higher than Nikita Kucherov's 4.42! For more on Game Score read this.

It's no wonder that Donskoi has been placed on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton in San Jose, but what will that do to San Jose's middle six?

5. Gaudreau and McDavid Doing Elite Things

Two players have been involved in more than half of their team's goals this season, and thy both ply their trade in Alberta. Have to give it up to Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau for carrying their respective teams through the first quarter of the season, but what does it say about the scoring depth of the Oilers and the Flames?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jagr Pots His First as a Flame

The Flames celebrated a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings and Scotiabank Saddledome, and Jaromir Jagr celebrated his first goal as a Flame.

The 45-year-old enjoyed his first multiple point game, picking up a goal and an assist to bring his season total to 1-3-4, and he was excited to share the moment with the Calgary fans.

"Any first goal for any time, it's special," Jagr said. "Especially in Canada, I can see it, how much the fans appreciate hockey, how much they love hockey. Since the first day I signed here they were so good to me so now I have to try to play my best."

Here's the goal, which came off a feed from Johnny Gaudreau.

Watch: Mark Jankowski Scores First NHL Goal and Sam Bennet Gets First Point of Season

Mark Jankowski scored his first NHL goal to give the Calgary Flames a 1-0 lead against the Red Wings at the Saddledome on Thursday night.

The former 21st overall pick is playing in his 8th game of the season after beginning the season at AHL Stockton. He put up eight points in six games at Stockton, and 56 in 64 games last season.

Jankowski has been playing on a line with Jaromir Jagr and Sam Bennett. In other former first-round pick news, Bennett picked up his first point of the season to wash a way a lot of stress.

The Edmonton Oilers have won two games in a row for the first time all season.

And they are doing it in dramatic fashion.

On Tuesday in Brooklyn it was Leon Draisaitl to Connor McDavid in overtime, so it was only fitting that it would be McDavid to Draisaitl on Thursday in New Jersey.

The Oilers improved to 6-8-1 with the 3-2 overtime victory over the Devils. Milan Lucic tied the game with a seeing-eye goal that squeaked through Cory Schneider's pads at 3:21 of the third and McDavid and Draisaitl took care of the rest in overtime.

Seriously, how do you defend McDavid in 3-on-3?

McDavid blasted past Brian Gibbons before slamming the brakes at Schneider's doorstep and dishing to Draisaitl for the goal. He now has six goals and 12 assist through 15 games. Draisiatl has five goals and 12 points in 11 games.

"It's huge," said Draisaitl. "Obviously, we dug ourselves a hole and now is the time to get back out of it. I think that it was another pretty solid effort throughout our whole lineup. Every line contributed and that's how you win on the road."

Shayne Gostisbehere is the Fastest Flyer Defenseman to Crack 100 Points

It's official: No Philadelphia defenseman has ever reached the 100-point mark faster than Shayne Gostisbehere. The 24-year-old racked up his 100th in his 155th NHL game in the first period of Thursday's Flyers-Blackhawks tilt at Wells Fargo Center in Philly.

Gostisbehere now has 25 goals and 75 points in his Flyers career. Not bad for the 78th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft.

Here's the play that did the trick. Gostisbehere picks up the primary on Jakub Voracek's 4th goal of the season:

Behn Wilson (163 games) is now the second-fasted Flyer defenseman to 100 points.

Brian Boyle Scores First Goal Since Lukemia Diagnosis

Brian Boyle snapped a 29-game goalless drought and notched his first goal since revealing that he had been diagnosed with lukemia on Thursday in New Jersey.

The 32-year-old revealed that he had been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in September, but said that he intended to make a full comeback to hockey with the Devils.

He wasn't kidding.

Boyle returned to action on November 1 and is playing in his 5th game of the season tonight.

He was pretty overwhelmed with emotion after the goal, and on the bench after the play.

Boyle is a veteran of 629 NHL games and has 94 goals and 171 points to his name.

Here he is discussing the goal after the first period in New Jersey.

Lost in Translation: Kerfoot Lands in Swedish Hospital

Alex Kerfoot doesn't like nuts, and they don't like him (he's allergic), so when he accidentally ordered a sandwich in Sweden that contained cashew nuts unbeknownst to him, his annoying day got a little more annoying.

The Colorado Avalanche rookie, who is in Stockholm ahead of the Avalanche's NHL Global Series showdown with the Senators, was just trying to kill some time while waiting for his iPhone to be repaired.

Next thing he knew he was off to the hospital in a taxi.

Here's the story as he tells it on

"As I meandered along the cobblestone streets I saw a quaint coffee shop that looked great. Because of the language barrier, I was having difficulty communicating with the waitress, which is especially troublesome for me because I have a severe nut allergy. I managed to order a sandwich after a fairly involved attempt to confirm that there were no nuts in it. Although she assured me there were not, I think she misinterpreted my question because the pesto sauce contained nuts.

As I felt the reaction coming on, I quickly found the manager and asked him if he thought there were nuts in my sandwich and he confirmed there were cashew nuts in the pesto sauce.

Fortunately, his English was pretty good and he was very helpful in tracking me down a cab and rushing me to the nearest medical facility. In a matter of minutes, I was at the hospital, having an allergic reaction to cashews, unable to speak the native language and without a phone."

Kerfoot returned to the Apple store to find his phone could not be fixed. He bought a new one and headed back to his hotel. It could have been better, it could have been worse.

Next time he'll make sure to use the most important Swedish saying (at least for him): "Finns det nötter i smörgåsen."

Statisfaction 11-9: Top Trios, Rookie Leaders and More

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

1. Best NHL Line? There are a lot of a good ones this season, but nobody has a higher 5-on-5 plus-minus than the line of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn.
But when it comes to Expected Goals +/- we see that the line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Zach Hyman looks the best.

2. Kucherov Still Smoking Hot
Nikita Kucherov scored his 15th goal (and added two assists) in Tampa's 5-1 beatdown of the Sharks last night at SAP Center. He is the second player in the last 11 seasons to score 15 in his team's first 16 games. The last to do it? Steven Stamkos (who also had three points last night). <

Kucherov, if you are scoring at home, is on pace for 76.875 goals this season. That's a lot.

3 Cory Schneider has been exceptional in net for the Devils.

He's ranked 20th in Save Percentage with a .919 (min 4 games) but advanced stats say that Cory Schneider has been one of the league's best goalies this season. A look at his actual save percentage minus his expected save percentage on Corsica reveals that the Devils puckstopper is outperforming his expected save percentage more than any other goalie in the NHL thus far this season. Here are the top 5:

Worst in this statistical category is Carey Price, with a -4.03.

The expected goals stat takes into account shot quality along with quantity, and it gives a good indication of what type of rubber goaltenders are actually facing. If you're curious, get started by reading more about expected goals here.

4. Point-Per-Game Rookies

Is the Calder race about points? Because if it is Brock Boeser and Clayton Keller are in the lead. It's actually Boeser that is scoring more per game at 1.17, but he's had twice as many points on the power play. Keller has been a monster at evens, putting up 14 points. Here's the top 8 in terms of points per game thus far.

What's really cool to see is that there are actually four rookies in the NHL's Top 10 in this category (Adrian Kempe ranks second). Keller is way down the list because he is actually second in 5-on-5 ice time among all NHL forwards this season, behind only Artemi Panarin.

5. Wheeler's November to Remember:

Blake Wheeler is kicking ass in November. He leads all NHLers with nine points in three games for the red-hot Jets, who improved to 8-3-3 with their win on Monday at Dallas. Here are November's Top 3.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Marc-Andre Fleury Returns to the Ice, Without a Timetable for Return

There is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Vegas Golden Knights and their goaltenders. Marc-Andre Fleury took to the ice at the team's practice facility on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month. The 32-year-old has been on IR after suffering a controversial concussion on October 13. It was the third recorded concussion of his career.

Since then the Golden Knights have seen two other goaltenders (Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk) go down, and they've been rolling with Maxim Lagace (he of six career NHL starts) for the last six games. Lagace has a 1-4-1 record with a 3.87 GAA and a .866 Save Percentage.

There isn't a specific timetable for Fleury's return but it could be within a week. Dansk, who was 3-0 with a 1.78 GAA, could also be nearing a return.

Vegas currently sits at 9-5-1, good for second in the Pacific Division. but their goaltending woes have been catching up with them. They only went 1-4-1 on their recent six game road swing.

They'll be home on Friday to face the Jets at T-Mobile Arena, where they have gone 6-1-0.

It's Doghouse for Rangers' Defenseman Brendan Smith

The Rangers liked defenseman Brendan Smith so much after his performance in the post season last year that they locked him up to a four-year, $17.4 million deal.

After acquiring Smith for two draft picks on February 28th last season, Smith quickly became a fixture on the Rangers blue line and was one of their best performers down the stretch and in the Rangers first-round triumph over Montreal.

He found a nice groove alongside rookie defenseman Brady Skjei and the pair more than held their own with third-pairing minutes. They did so well that most felt they should have earned more minutes and many questioned Vigneault's personnel decisions as the Rangers fell to Ottawa in the second round.

Those questions have not stopped this season, as Vigneault has elected to keep the highly paid defenseman in street clothes for more than one-third of the Rangers games this season.

Smith was a casualty of the Rangers abysmal start, and has been a healthy scratch for six games already in New York. He has not exactly helped his own cause. Smith has put up just two points in 11 games and his possession stats have dipped from where they were in his brief stint with the Rangers last season. He has a Corsi Percentage of 44.78 and the Rangers are only generating 40.36 percent of 5-on-5 scoring chances when Smith has been on the ice.

Vigneault says he wants him to play with more "bite" and do a better job of quickly retreiving pucks in his own zone in order to jump start the transition. The Rangers are a team that loves to create chances off the rush, and they have been better at doing that in the last week, with Steven Kampfer and Nick Holden in the lineup.

Smith, who is signed through 2021, and has a modified no-trade clause has not played since October 31st.

"I'm going to get Smitty in here at some point," Rangers head coach Alan Vigneault told media on Wednesday after announcing that Smith would not play again. "He's working extremely hard and he understands the areas that he needs to improve and focus on. ... He needs to be stronger on his puck battles and we believe that he can play with an edge and play with a bite."

It's been a strange season in New York as the Rangers got off to a difficult start and Vigneault has been desperate to find a winning combination for the Rangers. He was rumored to be on the hot seat but that talk has quieted with the Rangers winning four in a row, including impressive victories over the Eastern Conference leading Lightning and the Blue Jackets.

For now the hot seat appears to be on Smith, and it's getting warmer as he sits on his hands in the press box.

Quick Hit: Perry Attacked by Fed-Up Quick

It was one of those nights in Anaheim, where the SoCal animosity rose up like a giant Pacific Ocean swell, the kind that surfers drop everything for.

In the end, Jonathan Quick had the last laugh as the Kings battled back from 3-1 down to score a 4-3 overtime win over Corey Perry's Ducks.

L.A. improves to 11-2-2 while the injury-plagued Ducks dropped to 6-6-3.

Islanders' Kulemin Sent to Injured Reserve

The New York Islanders will lose a significant part of their penalty kill and fourth line for a spell. Forward Nikolay Kulemin has been placed on injured reserve and the Islanders say they'll know more about the extent of the Russian's injury in 48 hours.

Kulemin, who has three points in 13 games, was injured when Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba rode him into the boards during Edmonton's 2-1 overtime win on Tuesday night in Brooklyn. Here's a look at the play:

Kulemin logs 2:26 of shorthanded ice time per game, which ranks second among Islander forwards. He's also a key defender at even strength for the Islanders.

Forward Alan Quine has been recalled from AHL Bridgeport to replace Kulemin.

Auston Matthews out with Upper Body Injury

Auston Matthews will miss a game for the first time in his NHL career, ending a 98-game streak of games played to start his career when the Maple Leafs battle the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

"Upper body, day-to-day," explained Toronto head coach Mike Babcock. He was asked to elaborate and quickly repeated "Upper body, day-to-day."

"Sometimes you get bumped or you get hacked," Babcock said. "Things happen."

Patrick Marleau will center the team's top line in place of Matthews, who has 19 points in 16 games this season after playing all 82 games last season and putting up 40 goals and 69 points.

The Leafs enter play in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 9-7-0, but they have gone 3-6-0 after starting the season with wins in six of seven games.

In those games the leafs have a minus-9 goal differential and have allowed 36 goals.