When you start the season winning 6 out of 14 games it’s not surprising that there is some talk of shakeup. Elliotte Friedman gave us a couple of names to consider in his 31 Thoughts column…
8. Evan Rodrigues has played just six games for Buffalo. There are teams who really liked what they saw of him last season. He’d be perfect for both Ottawa and Toronto, although I’m not sure the Sabres would want to help the Maple Leafs.
9. Jake Muzzin’s health could change this, but Toronto would move Martin Marincin.
On Evan Rodrigues
Evan Rodrigues is probably best known for riding shotgun to Jack Eichel at Boston College. He had a 61 point season playing with Eichel there and that was good enough for the Sabres to bring him on board.
In the past three seasons for the Sabres he’s hovered around the 25-30 point range, and hasn’t broken the 10 goal mark in his career. He’s not particularly big or physical and is in the last year of a $2M/yr contract that will see him become an arbitration eligible restricted free agent next summer.
The story doesn’t become any more clear when you look at his expected goals or shot differientals. Nothing particularly stands out as a reason to target Rodrigues unless the Leafs are dumping some salary on Buffalo, but like Elliotte said, there really isn’t any reason for Buffalo to help Toronto, and if they aren’t do it on a targeted trade for Rodrigues, the Leafs aren’t dumping salary.
This seems like a potentially strange move, but it doesn’t look like it will happen.
Marincin hasn’t been very good this year, and doesn’t seem to show the same promise that Kevin Gravel has, let alone the fact that the Leafs might be trying to find a way to bring Rasmus Sandin back. Marincin cleared waivers last season and there’s no real reason to believe he wouldn’t again this year.
Probably doesn’t hurt to see whether there is a mutually beneficial deal out there for the Leafs, especially when there are teams like the Jets that are resorting to playing Luca Sbisa.
The fact that Muzzin’s injury or potential of one has stalled things is interesting as the Leafs don’t seem particularly short on depth kicking around on the Marlies, but Marincin has certainly become a safety blanket for the Leafs.
Nothing happens with either of these players, and probably nothing happens with the Leafs at all until the Hyman return is imminent. There is still the matter of figuring out what becomes of Spezza, Shore, Petan, and/or Marincin. Petan looks like he may stick with the Leafs to the point he’ll require waivers again and if Spezza is on the outs in Toronto, I’m willing to bet that every avenue will be exhausted to keep him out of the minors. As for Marincin, a move could be likely, I just wouldn’t get particularly excited about what the return would be.
At the end of the game against the Anaheim Ducks, both Dennis Beyak and Kevin Sawyer lamented how many shots the Winnipeg Jets had in the game and especially in the last two periods, and that Ducks goalie John Gibson was “brilliant” in a game where his save percentage for the game (.900) was below the current league average (.908).
Not to take anything away from Gibson who was indeed good in the game, or at the very least better than the Jets combination of Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit, but I’d argue he didn’t have as challenging a night in goal as “facing 40 shots” in a game would suggest.
Time and score matter
You probably see us reference “score effects” here in our recaps multiple times and if you’re not familiar with the term, there is plenty of good reading out there to help get a better understanding, but the bottom line is when we talk about score effects, we’re talking about the tendency of teams playing with the lead tend to go into more of a protect or prevent defense, allowing more possession time against and more shots against, at the same time the team trailing in a game is more willing to push play, get more pucks towards the net and focus more on offense than defense.
The Jets out-shooting the Ducks 31-15 in the final two periods is a good example of score effects, especially after the crazy 3:08 stretch where four goals were scored – three of them belonging to the Ducks to give them a two goal lead. The shots up until the 9:10 mark of the second period were actually in favor of the Ducks 19-16. The shots after the Ducks scored their fifth goal and had a two goal lead were 21-9 in favor of the Jets.
Between the Ducks going back into more of a defensive shell for the rest of the game, the Jets being given two power plays back-to-back shortly after the flurry of second period goals, and the Jets abandoning what little defensive commitment they had going in the game, the shot counter was decidedly in favor of Winnipeg in the second half of the game.
Now you might read that and go “That’s what we want isn’t it? Pucks on net, throw everything at a shaky Gibson who at that point in the game was rocking a .813 save percentage.” and you’d partly be right, but there is an argument to be made that the Jets should be more selective about where they take their shots and that they should be trying to get closer to the net before taking them.
Location also matters
This is the part where we find out that 40 shots on goal really isn’t as threatening as it sounds.
It’s one thing for a goalie to face a slapshot from the blueline a good 60 feet away from the net and a whole different thing to try and stop a quick wrist shot taken 10-15 feet away. Both can be considered scoring chances, but it’s that shot from right in front of the net that’s considered a “high danger” scoring chance. When you factor in events like getting the puck back and shooting again after a blocked shot or a rebound, the danger gets even higher. Again, there are plenty of good reads out there to get a better understand what can be considered a scoring chance and what is considered a high danger scoring chance.
The final 5v5 heat map of the game tells an overall story of the game where the Jets simply didn’t get much in and around the Ducks net and settled for shots from pretty much all over.
Shots in the final two periods may have been 31-15 for Winnipeg, but high danger scoring chances over the last two periods were actually even at even at five a piece during five on five play, and the Ducks led in that category 4-1 in the third period alone.
The Jets took a lot of shots, but they were from distance. You may have been able to see that in the game with just your eyes, but there are also shot location charts that help track this as well and this was Winnipeg’s shot locations in the third period.
Three or four chances in close on Gibson – one of them being a really nice stop on an Andrew Copp shot– and a couple of those came when the Jets had that late 6 on 5 push with the goalie pulled, while another was a missed shot by Kyle Connor midway through the period. But as you can see, most of the shots the Jets had in the final period came from above the hashmarks and if John Gibson can see those shots cleanly – which he did thanks to some solid work by the Ducks defense – then he’s going to stop them, as are most goalies in the NHL.
Bryan Little’s goal (the dark blue dot at the top of the left faceoff circle) at the 6:39 mark of the third period fooled Gibson as it likely hit a stick, but there was nothing overly threatening about the other shots.
And as it turns out, this isn’t the first time the Jets have tried to score from distance when trailing in games – which they’ve done a lot this season.
@NatStatTrick has Jets at 68 CF/60 (unadjusted) when trailing, which is 2nd only behind L.A. Unsurprisingly, it's because they're 4th in TOI in terms of trailing. @HockeyViz's heat maps shows the team's propensity to blast from the line to rack up those shot attempts. pic.twitter.com/GP5F7oXvBH
None of this is to say that the Jets should not shoot if they have an opportunity to, but if you’re going to take shots from 30+ feet out, then it’s important to get guys in front of the net to take advantage of rebounds or blocked shots. That’s easier said than done when you’re trying to do it against a team that is ahead by a couple of goals and more willing to collapse around their net to take that middle area of the ice away, but the Jets need to find a way to be better in that department.
Otherwise the Jets may be taking 40 shots on goal in a game, but they’re not getting the most out of those shots and possibly taking away the ability to have better ones.
Welcome to “2 Guys and a Goalie,” starring Dustin Nielson, Joaquin Gage, and Matt Kassian and presented by Odds Shark, Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken, and Sports Clips Haircuts. The show focuses on stories, notes, transactions, and everything else happening all around the NHL and the world of hockey.
Gager is still soaking up the sun in Mexico, but Tom Gazzola is in to fill the crease!
They get things started talking about Leon Draisaitl’s amazing October performance and what it means for the Edmonton Oilers.
This takes them right into the Popeyes Poll Question: Where would you have Draisaitl ranked in the NHL?
They get into Alex Ovechkin’s comments regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs “only playing for themselves” and then beating them in OT.
This gets them into a discussing toughness around the modern NHL and if it can still play a role.
They talk about the Dustin Byfuglien situation and what his ankle surgery means for the Winnipeg Jets.
Kris Abbott from Odds Shark calls in to give some of his best NHL bets, including Draisaitl’s odds for winning the Hart Trophy, betting on teams in the Pacific Division, and the best strategy for riding a team for profit.
They talk about Taylor Hall’s comments on being booed by the New Jersey Devils fans, and whether he’ll stay there after this season.
Kass tells some stories from his Junior days, and they compare the Sonny Milano and Andrei Svechnikov goals.
They finish off the show with another round of Keep It or Clip It:
Putting Halloween decorations on October 1st is too early.
Scary movies are great.
Draisaitl would be a 90-point player even without playing with Connor McDavid.
Elias Petterson will hit 100 points this season.
Ovechkin’s comments will be the turning point for the Maple Leafs.
The Jets should just move on from Byfuglien.
Carey Price is a top-3 goaltender in the NHL.
Full chocolate bars as Halloween candy is overkill.
Halloween: it’s that amazing time of year that comes right smack-dab in between back-to-school flu season and the chaos of Christmas, Hannukkah, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah, and the intersection of all four major sports in play simultaneously.
For kids it’s fun and for parents it can be a bit of a nightmare, but for NHLers it’s another level entirely.
Thanks to a bit of financial muscle and plenty of time on their hands thanks to the unique nature of their lifestyles (and those of their partners, to boot), NHLers tend to take the art of Halloween-ing to the next level. From makeup done by professionals to costumes that look like they were hand-stitched by designers competing for Project Runway, the players and their families tend to go all out for the inevitable team parties in a way that’s rarely seen anywhere else.
The Canucks, of course, are no exception. They’ve put in the time and the effort to come up with everything from elite couple’s costumes to bizarre group getups, and they range from hilarious to impressive (with a little bit of everything in between).
Here’s what the team came up with this year, from boring to best:
A post shared by Jacob Virtanen (@jakevirtanen18) on Oct 26, 2019 at 8:14pm PDT
There’s so much going on here I’m not even really sure where to start.
EP’s Donkey costume looks a little bit like he picked it up at a Furries convention and not at the same Party City where the rest of the boys found their Shrek, Piggies, Gingerbread Man, and Princess Fiona costumes. But the real winner here is clearly Boeser – who knows what he looks like and is leaning into it instead of trying for literally anything else, which would automatically come up short.
And because EP’s donkey costume is probably the wildest thing about him, here’s yet another picture of it:
When hockey people think about the current state of the struggling Detroit Red Wings, there are a few names that come to mind. Immediately it is the current stars of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, or Tyler Bertuzzi. For others it is the top prospects in the pipeline, like Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, or the shocking selection of Moritz Seider at the 2019 NHL Draft.
But few think of Filip Hronek. Perhaps that’s because the success of NHL defensemen is harder to quantify, or maybe it’s because he hasn’t had a league-wide breakout yet. Regardless of whether it’s being noticed or not, it’s true: Hronek is quietly becoming a major part in Detroit’s rebuild.
A workhorse in the making
The most obvious area that highlights Hronek’s importance to the team is the amount of time he plays. Even for a coaching staff that has been rather hasty to scratch younger players at times, Hronek has rarely even been considered for a scratch and instead is given more time than anyone else. Indeed, Hronek leads the Red Wings defense in average time of ice (ATOI), averaging 23 minutes per game this season, which places him 33rd among all defensemen league wide. When you look at the names who average more than him it is excellent company, from bonafide superstars like Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, and Mark Giordano to fellow young stars like Thomas Chabot and Miro Heiskanen.
This of course is rather intuitive: you have to play well to get that much playing time. The fact that Hronek is on the ice as often as he is for the Red Wings is indicative of his play and also the trust that Jeff Blashill seems to already have in him. Not to mention, his ATOI is also important when discussing his development, since most young NHL defensemen are not deployed as often as Hronek is. The only defensemen younger than Hronek who receives similar or more minutes is Heiskanen, Charlie McAvoy, and Samuel Girard (who has slightly less ATOI than Hronek). Right now Hronek is not quite 22, yet is on the top power-play unit, top pair, and is shouldering a very significant amount of minutes. That in and of itself is impressive.
Hronek has continued his strong finish to last season by producing in the offensive end, now with 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points in 13 games this season. This strong start also comes on the heels of finishing 2018-19 on a tear. After being recalled for the third (and final time) last season on February 17, Hronek closed the year with 2 goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 23 games.
Put together, in his last 36 NHL games, Hronek has scored 5 goals and 15 assists for 20 points. That is a pace that over a full season would amount to roughly 46 points, which would have been in the top-20 of all NHL defensemen last year.
Basically, since becoming a full-time regular in the NHL, Hronek has been a significant offensive producer from the blue-line. A big part of Hronek’s production continues to be on the power play, where his lethal slap shot can be unleashed. This occurred most humorously on a “Third Time’s The Charm” goal earlier this season:
Another instance comes from last season when the Hronek cannon helped to beat Boston:
That slap shot is an absolute beauty, but his offensive prowess goes beyond just his shot. His ability to get pucks on net, as well as his willingness to pinch in and forecheck on occasion, provides a significant boost to the Red Wings offense. A reliable, young right-hand shot defenseman is something that Detroit has lacked for awhile and Hronek provides that in style.
I have always been impressed by Hronek’s advanced metrics and that has continued into this season. I noted last year that he graded out especially well in possession numbers, and that has carried over, as has other offensive stats.
Following the most recent game against Edmonton, Hronek’s 5v5 CF% Rel. (or how much more Detroit possesses the puck at even strength when Hronek is on the ice compared to off of it) is 7.3%, which is 16th among all defensemen with at least 6 games played. Furthermore, while fellow defenseman Dennis Cholowski is also in the top-30 of 5v5 CF% Rel., an important distinction is offensive zone start rate.
Generally speaking, you should be expected to possess the puck more and produce more offense if you start in the offensive zone more frequently, and this is often a coaching decision. Players who are more “trustworthy” tend to be put in the defensive zone. While Cholowski is mostly sheltered, with a 58.9% oZS%, Hronek starts in the offensive end just 42.7% of the time. Of all defenders in the top-30 in CF% Rel., only Ian Cole and Adam Fox started in the offensive zone less than Hronek. This applies to xGF, where Hronek also ranks in the top-30, as well as High Danger Chances For, where Hronek ranks in the top-25. He has been among the best in making something out of nothing offensively, given how often he enters the ice in his own end.
This article should not be blown out of proportion. I’m not here to try and say that Hronek is a franchise player or anything of the like, though that could be true down the line. Rather, I’m arguing that he is an important piece of the rebuild that deserves much more attention. While he may not have the explosive talent of a Cale Makar or a Quinn Hughes, Hronek is silently solid and has a meaningful future with this team.
It remains to be seen what Hronek’s ceiling in Detroit is, but it is of the utmost importance for Red Wings fans to try and monitor his development. Are there aspects of his game that need improving? Yes, particularly in his own end. But Hronek is a raw offensive talent who has already been shown to be more mature than most defenders of his age, given that he’s still only played 59 career NHL games (!).
While he may not produce as much as Larkin or Mantha by virtue of his position, that doesn’t mean Hronek isn’t still vastly important. So pay attention to him when he’s on the ice, because he could be a key piece of the franchise for a while.
Advanced stats via Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick
I think it’s safe to say that the Edmonton Oilers are officially in a slump. They’ve lost three of their last four games and have failed to score more than two goals in each of those three losses. They’re not getting anything from their bottom six but they have been getting exceptional goaltending and that’s been keeping them close in every game.
Tonight, they’ll have a Blue Jackets team that is not only rested but have grabbed points in four of their last five games. Their current situation is pretty much the exact opposite of the Oilers. It’s a tough spot to be in for Edmonton but considering how poorly they’ve been playing as of late, I don’t think very many people are going to cut them any slack if they don’t come out strong tonight in Columbus.
I go through how these two teams lineup, hear from Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett following another disappointing effort from his team and give you my bet of the game (which is 2-8-3 on the season, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to that part).
Listen to today’s pre-game podcast below:
You can download it directly to your device right here in the article or by heading to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button and give our friends at YEG Burger a shout at YEGBurger.ca!
Boeser scores hat technique in Canucks’win over Kings: Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson both taped four points in Vancouver
‘s 5-3 win. 0:28’Our groups are remaining together’ Nolan Baumgartner, Vancouver’s
assistant coach who supervises the charge kill, said the greatest difference this year is consistency. “It ‘s simply our guys being
together another year,”said Baumgartner,
a former Canucks defenceman.”Our groups are staying together. In 2015 we had a few injures. You’re constantly putting somebody different together
. There’s no consistency when the gamers are out on the ice.”So far this year we have been healthy enough that it’s been constant partners and they read off each other, they understand what to do. They know where they are going. They are always speaking with each other when they return to the bench.”Beagle missed 24 video games in 2015 with a damaged arm. After signing as a complimentary agent Schaller had a hard time adjusting to the Canucks. He was a regular scratch and played just 47 games. Beagle and Schaller have both stayed productive and healthy this season. Schaller currently has 4 objectives in 12 games, one more than he had in 47 in 2015. The 2 utilized to go nose-to-nose when Schaller was with Boston and Beagle bet Washington
. Now they fit together like coffee and cream.”I hated playing versus him,” stated Schaller.”You see how difficult he works out there. He’s always in the best area,
doing the ideal thing. It’s great to finally be on the silver lining of his play.” He has most likely among the best work ethics I’ve ever given that and I’m simply attempting to stay up to date with him out there. “Beagle was excited the day Schaller signed with Vancouver.” There’s been men throughout my career [where]
Away you can feel the chemistry,”he said.” You simply read them. It simply works. “< img alt= ""srcset =" “sizes =”” src=”https://i.cbc.ca/1.5342436.1572530372!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/tim-schaller.jpg”> In addition to his capability to safeguard, Schaller has actually scored four goals in 12 games this season.