It would be fantastic to compose a chart that monitors the progress of all NHL players because so many of them take dips or have surges at unexpected times.
Daniel Sedin scored his 1000th point on the weekend, joining brother Henrik as the only brother combo in NHL history to surpass 1000 points. Daniel is only the 87th player in NHL history to reach 1000 points. It is quite the achievement, but when he was 25 years of age he only had 151 NHL points in 315 games. How many of us would have projected him to score 1000?
He made his NHL debut at 20 and in his first four seasons produced 34, 32, 31 and 54 points. He played in Sweden when he was 24 due to the lockout. He returned to the NHL in 2005/2006, having just turned 25 years young a few weeks before the season began, and he emerged as a much better offensive player producing 71 points. He followed that up with seasons of 84, 74, 82, 85 (in 63 games) and 104 points. His brother Henrik had 146 points in his first four seasons. Not surprisingly the identical twins were producing at virtually the exact same rate, but at 25 neither were tracking to become 1000-point players.
Regardless of how much statistics and video you watch, there will always be players who will exceed expectations, or fall short, and it can happen quickly from year-to-year.
Heck, for Laurent Brossoit it happened from period to period. On Saturday in Calgary, Brossoit looked good in the first 40 minutes. His rebound control was fine. He wasn’t scrambling. He looked poised. But then the third period came and with the Oilers up 6-1 he suddenly couldn’t stop a puck, especially from a sharp angle. After watching him make six or seven highlight reel saves versus Toronto on Thursday, it was odd to suddenly watch him fight every puck. He didn’t magically lose his ability. To his credit, he admitted he lost his focus, and in the NHL for a goalie that can have devastating results.
“A lot of the goals I’d like back,” he said after the victory. “The one that beat me short side, I thought I had everything covered. They found holes, that’s my bad. I have to stay extra tight, especially in the third periods, no matter what the score is. I got casual,” said Brossoit.
An honest response. No excuses. Ideally, you don’t want him to lose focus, but it happened, and luckily for him it ended in a victory. It doesn’t sting nearly as much when the team wins. Now we’ll see if he learns from it. I fully expect him to start versus Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Oilers are 4-2 in their last six. I don’t see Todd McLellan giving Nick Ellis his first NHL start on Wednesday, but he might on Saturday or Sunday when the Oilers play back-to-back. Although when Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist in New York, he played back-to-back twice. It will depend on how Brossoit plays, but if he bounces back and plays well on Wednesday and Saturday in Toronto the Oilers might just stick with him instead of going to a more inexperienced goalie.
ODDS AND ENDS
1. I’ve really liked Jujhar Khaira’s game the past few weeks. He looks so confident with the puck. Watch how rarely he just dumps it up the boards in his own zone. Instead, he holds onto it and isn’t afraid to skate it out of the zone, often stick handling by an opposing forechecker. He has seven points in his last eight games, and he is making smart, confident plays all over the ice. He uses his size to protect the puck and he is using his speed more effectively as well. He is forcing the coach to play him more. If he continues playing this well he will push for more ice-time in the top-nine.
2. The Oilers’ offensive players are a perplexing bunch. They have scored the fifth most goals in the NHL at 5×5 — this group can produce at even strength. But their PP, where the most skilled players reside, sits 29th in goals scored, 12, and 23rd in PP efficiency at 17.1%. The Oilers have had the fewest PP chances in the NHL, 70, which is surprising. Only three other teams have had fewer than 82, and half the league has had over 90 powerplays. The Chicago Blackhawks have had 42 more powerplay opportunities than the Oilers through 27 games. That is 1.5 more per game. It is shocking how few powerplays they have had, and maybe the lack of opportunities is a factor in their low success rate, but Leon Draisaitl still doesn’t have a PP point, and the past few games he’s barely been involved when he’s on the ice.
3. Todd McLellan became the 37th coach in NHL history to win 400 games on Saturday. He should surpass Punch Imlach (402), Michel Therrien (406), Jacques Demers (409) and Jack Adams (413) this season. His 731 games coached is 47th all-time
4. The Oilers issue is 5×5 goals against. Goaltending is a major factor — their team sv% is under .900 and their goals against average is 29th at 3.37. The goalies have allowed 87 goals on 833 shots (.895sv%). Sure, team defence is a factor as well, but Cam Talbot, and now Laurent Brossoit, simply need to be better. The penalty kill is the other major reason having surrendered a league-high 25 goals, despite being 16th in PK situations. Some timely saves, an improved PK and the Oilers should be able to take a run at the playoffs, but admittedly those are two big What Ifs.
5. I’ve read and heard many suggesting the Oilers woes have to do with Kris Russell’s contract. I didn’t like the fourth year, and would have preferred his number to start with a three instead of a four, but the fact is his play this season has not been an issue for the Oilers. In fact, he is living up to his contract. Russell is tied with seven other defenders at 78th in actual salary for NHL defencemen. This season he has not been a negative for the Oilers regardless of his salary. His ten EV points has him tied for 16th in the NHL among defenders. He is playing fewer EV minutes than last season, but he’s been much more effective. He is likely fresher in games, and for a smaller D-man that can be a huge benefit.
6. Russell is tied for sixth on the Oilers in scoring, and he has only played 16 minutes on the PP all season (which likely helps his point totals, but I digress). His possession numbers are fine. He has played 392 minutes at 5×5 and his most common D partner has been Eric Gryba (100), then Matt Benning (87) and Darnell Nurse (84). People argued he was propped up by Andrej Sekera, but without him this season he has actually flourished offensively. He has regained his offensive confidence. He, like Nugent-Hopkins, were challenged by Todd McLellan to make more offensive plays and Russell has responded. Russell was an elite offensive defender in junior, and while he won’t be one in the NHL, he has rediscovered those instincts. If he keeps producing points like this, and having solid possession numbers, then he isn’t the salary cap anchor. It is fair to assume none of us expected him to produce like this, and while the fourth year of his contract isn’t ideal, at this moment Russell is the least of the Oilers worries. If he reverts back to adding nothing offensively next season or late this year, then it is fair to question his value and contributions, but so far this season he and Nurse have been very good on the Oilers blueline.
7. I agree often with Lowetide, but I strongly disagree with his notion when the Oilers are healthy he would have Russell as the #7 and have Sekera play the right side with Nurse. Sekera struggled mightily on the right side in 2015 with Nurse, and Brandon Davidson simply is not a better NHL defenceman than Russell. I don’t understand why he would list Russell, their top-scoring defender, as the #7 when everyone is healthy. I’m all for using analytics — I believe they can really enhance what we see — but nothing I’ve seen from Davidson in 2016 and 2017 that tells me he is better than Russell.
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you to Bob for his great bid on the Hughes gas and hockey package and to all who helped in our Pyramid of Giving. We raised $7,700 on day one for Santas Anonymous and The Holiday Hamper
We have an awesome package from the Glendale Golf and Country Club.
RESTRICTED ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP
- An Associate Membership for a year a the GLENDALE.
- Immediate family (spouse and all your children) become Social Members at no additional charge (full use of the Pool and Clubhouse). The outdoor pool is awesome.
- The Restricted Associate option allows regular access to the tee during weekdays, but is “restricted” to after noon on weekends.
Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out The Christmas Bureau.