Monday, March 19, 2018

Statisfaction 3.19: OEL's 100th, Hello Ryan Donato

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

1. Welcome to the show, Ryan Donato

How's this for an NHL debut? Ryan Donato (1-2—3) became just the second player in Bruins franchise history to record three points in his NHL debut (also: Jarno Kultanen, Oct. 5, 2000). As a junior, Donato led Harvard with 26 goals and 43 points in 29 games this past season and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. He became available when Harvard's season ended over the weekend and he inked a two-year entry-level deal with the B's.

If you are wondering about how the career of Jarno Kultanen turned out--he scored 13 points in 102 NHL games for the Bruins over three seasons. Think Donato's got him beat...

2. Thomas Vanek, Bruin killer

Vanek now has 70 points in 64 games vs. Bruins after notching his 20th of the season during Columbus' 5-4 overtime win on Monday. And yes, it was a sick deflection.

3. Pekka Rinne Rolling

Pekka Rinne has won 11 consecutive starts, tying a career high. His eighth shutout, a 4-0 win over the Sabres on Monday, marks a career high for the Finn, who now boasts a .931 save percentage and a record of 40-9-4.

4. Maybe Eric Staal can get to 45 goals?

Eric Staal scored his 39th goal of the season during the Kings 4-3 win over Minnesota on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center. The 33-year-old is six shy of his career-high (2005-2006). Minnesota has nine games remaining.

5. Woeful Habs shut out again

The Montreal Canadiens were shut out for a team record 12th time on Monday night at Bell Centre, 2-0 by the Panthers. Florida has now shut the Habs out three times in four meetings this season. Montreal averages 2.47 goals per game, and ranks 29th in the NHL with 170 total goals.

6. Another milestone for Luongo

Roberto Luongo made 28 saves to record his 76th career shutout and move into a tie with Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour for ninth on the NHL's all-time list. Luongo, 38, is fourth on the NHL's all-time win list with 468, just 16 wins behind Ed Belfour for third.

7. The Preds are in a league of their own

With tonight's win in Buffalo, the Predators now have points in 15 consecutive games (14-0-1) which sets a franchise record (In 2015-16, the Predators went 9-0-5 over a 14-game stretch). The Predators have also earned points in 15 consecutive road games, which extends a franchise record and have won nine straight away from home, another club record.

Nashville has scored 59 goals and allowed 27 during the streak. Victor Arvidsson has caught fire for Nashville over the course of the streak, leading the team with 8 goals and 18 points in the 15 games. Rinne has gone 11-0-0 with a .950 save percentage and a 1.64 GAA (plus three shutouts).

8. Ekman-Larsson scores 100th career goal

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game-winner in Arizona's 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday. OEL becomes just the 6th Swedish defenseman to reach 100 goals, per Craig Morgan of AZ Sports. The others? Nicklas Lidström (264), Börje Salming (150), Fredrik Olausson (147), Calle Johansson (119), Erik Karlsson (125).

9. Flames powerless

Calgary’s powerplay has gone completely invisible, and their playoff chances are taking a hit as a result. In their last 11 games, the Flames have gone 1 for 33 with the man advantage. Calgary is 3-7-1 over that stretch. The Flames are six out of the wild card with two teams (St. Louis and Dallas) between them and a playoff spot. They have nine games left to play.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Donskoi, Meier, Labanc: Keys to Sharks' Survival without Marleau and Thornton

How have the Sharks managed to survive the loss of Patrick Marleau all season and Joe Thornton since January 23rd? The steady rise and improvement of three players--Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Sure there are a lot of reasons the Sharks are winning games other than these three. We could talk about Logan Couture, the team's best offensive player all season, or look to the improved offensive play of Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The rise of Chris Tierney as a bottom six center has also been a nice development. But we said at the beginning of the season that Meier and Labanc would have to take a stop, and we also believed that Donskoi and Tomas Hertl would have to re-establish themselves as threats. They all have. We'll leave Hertl for another discussion. For now let's look at how much better each of the three aforementioned players have been at 5-on-5:

Donskoi: Goals per 60 have risen to .83 from .41 at 5-on-5. Points per 60 up to 1.88 from .98.

Meier: Goals per 60 have risen to .97 from .45 at 5-on-5. Points per 60 up to 1.59 from .91.

Labanc: CF/60 up to 68.5 from 56.28. CA/60 down to 54.7 from 57.91. Labanc has the second highest CF Rel on the Sharks at 5.39. Donskoi has the highest at 6.35. Meier is fourth at 4.32.

Here's a table that shows where the Sharks forwards rank in terms of 5-on-5 percentage of scoring chances relative to their teammates. Again it shows that Meier, Donskoi and Labanc are among the best on the team at generating chances in their end.

Full credit goes to the Sharks leadership and the coaching of Peter DeBoer. There have been a lot of growing pains and it is not always easy to be patiend in the midst of a playoff race when the sky may or may not be falling around you. But San Jose has patiently weathered all storms this season--including doubts about the form of No.1 goaltender Martin Jones--without ever falling out of the hunt in the Pacific.

Losing Marleau and not Thornton are very difficult circumstances. The sudden irrelevance of Paul Martin was another hurdle. But each time this team has been presented with a challenge, somebody has stepped in and taken the reins. Joakim Ryan has become indespinsable on the blue line and Tim Heed and Dylan DeMelo have been key contributors.

It all adds up to a team that is 30-18-8 and looking pretty solid in the playoff picture. It could have been far worse.

By no means are the Sharks a Western Conference juggernaut. But they have had key players make significant strides and because of that they are relevant. They may be old but there is youth in San Jose. Thanks to the rise of Meier (21), Labanc (22) and Donskoi (25), the Sharks' future looks a lot brighter than it did after last season's playoff loss to Edmonton.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Pros and Cons of Isles Locking up Mayfield for Five Years

What should we make of the Islanders signing Scott Mayfield long term? Probably not much, because the price tag is so low that Mayfield could end up earning closer to one percent of the Islanders cap than two when his deal is done. Problem is, the Islanders have some skilled young defenseman in the pipeline and they'll be stuck with Mayfield for better or for worse through the 2023-24 season.

Do they want that? Apparently yes.

Mayfield's signing doesn't provide any short-term relief to a defense that is reeling with the losses of Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk. It was pretty obvious when Travis Hamonic was dealt in the off-season that the Islanders were going to have a thin blue line but without their second and third best blue liners they look just plain abysmal and it's hard to say if Mayfield is doing much to help the cause.

A quick check of Natural Stat Trick shows that Mayfield has done okay from an analytical perspective, and that's nice. He's actually leading the Islanders in 5-on-5 points per 60, goals per 60 and assists per 60, which is remarkable when you think about it.

You have to consider these numbers a pro for Mayfield, who has been on ice for 20 goals for and 20 goals against while at 5-on-5 this season. He hasn't been killing the Islanders but he doesn't seem to be a great fit with New York's style, which revolves around quick transition and is pretty complex for a slow-footed player like Mayfield. To his credit he's pretty sound positionally but he often times looks overmatched in one-on-one battles, particularly those that revolve around quickness or puck savvy. In other words, yes, he's physical and can separate an attacker from the puck, but how often is he able to get into position to do that separation against better players?

Maybe it won't matter because Mayfield is being signed to play third-pair minutes, but it is concerning to see how much penalty kill time he's getting. He averaged 1:40 of shorthanded ice time per game in December and the Islanders penalty kill was an absolute train wreck, putting up a 64.3 percent kill rate for the month. Blame the goaltending all you want, but you could also point at Mayfield being overmatched when facing elite players while shorthanded.

Bottom line: It's not the end of the world.

This is a small deal and it doesn't really change anything in Brooklyn. The Islanders need to updgrade their d by trade or this season will be lost and no pep talk by Doug Weight is going to change that fact. How do they do it? I'll leave it up to everybody on twitter. Hit me up: @TheFanChild.

Mayfield has played 65 NHL games and hopes are that he'll improve. He has the size, the attitude and the tenaciousness to be a solid third-pair defender. He can be better on breakouts. He can be a lot quicker at reading and reacting to developing danger. He can have better gaps and be a more powerful skater. These are the things he'll have to figure out to help the Islanders.

Personally, think the Islanders are in a lot more danger defensively than they even realize. I'm not convinced that Ryan Pulock, Mayfield or Seidenberg have what it takes to be effective NHLers at any spot on the depth chart. de Haan could be gone after the season and Hickey as well. It leaves the Islanders with three defenseman--Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuck and Adam Pelech--that have promise. Some might disagree on Pelech, but I think he's solid and getting better. I actually like him as a very good third pair player down the road. As for the second pair, New York better start shopping while at the same time hoping that Devon Toews and Mitchell Vande Sompel are ready to fulfill their promise in the not too distant future.

They've got draft picks that they will either need to use on drafting some high quality defensemen or parlay to improve the term short-term. Four picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft is nothing to scoff at--Garth Snow should be able to upgrade his team through trade and still have retain a few of those picks.

It makes sense for the Isles to lock up Mayfield for the forseeable future because it gives them some depth at the position for a very low price. AT the very worst the Islanders have a No.7 defenseman who is ready to play on any given night. If he improves and Garth Snow looks smart, hey it wouldn't be the first time.