We’ll take a quick look around the NHL today. We will talk about the hottest team in the NHL, share thoughts on Darnell Nurse and Jesse Puljijarvi, and see the NHL’s best agitator take a different angle to try and disrupt an opponent. Will Mitch Marner get paid as much as Auston Matthews? And what is a Femoroacetabular Impingement?
It is finally happening. The Carolina Hurricanes are playing as well as some analytic analysts thought they could. For years the Canes had good underlying numbers, but never came close to winning. They’ve missed the playoffs nine years in a row, but in 2019 they’ve played like the best team in the NHL and are now almost as close to winning their division as they are to missing the playoffs. The Hurricanes have won 20 of their 27 games in 2019 and after starting the new year 20-6-1 they have moved into third place in the Metropolitan division.
The Canes are five points behind Washington, with a game in hand, and are only three back of the Islanders for second place and possible home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. They are also only three points ahead of Columbus, who sits fifth in the Metro and ninth overall, so they aren’t a lock to make the playoffs, but right now no team is playing better. I’d be stunned if they don’t make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
And if they get in, don’t be surprised if they win a round or two. The Canes are the ultimate feast or famine organization.
They lost in the 2002 Stanley Cup Final.
MIssed the playoffs in 2003 and 2004. Then there was the 2005 lockout.
They Won the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Missed the playoffs in 2007 and 2008.
Went to the Conference Finals in 2009.
Missed the playoffs from 2010-2018.
Since January 1st the Canes are averaging the third most goals/game at 3.77 and have the fourth best GAA at 2.48. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen have 34 and 32 points in 27 games and they have 14 players in 2019 who, if you prorate their production, would be on pace for 30+ points all season. To put that in perspective, the Tampa Bay Lightning — the best offensive team in the NHL — have 13 players on track for 30+ points.
The Canes are playing very well. They didn’t make a trade at the deadline, instead Jordan Staal returned from injury and he has six points in four games. His return to the lineup was better than a trade acquisition, because they didn’t have to give up an asset.
Carolina has added fun to the NHL with their post-game victory celebrations and their fans are loving it. A return to the playoffs would be a huge boost for that market.
I cant wait to see this kids new deal… 12m AAV?? It better be#Marnerwatch
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) March 5, 2019
Brad Marchand stirring the pot off the ice. I love it. It will be fascinating to see what happens with Marner’s extension. How close will he want to Auston Matthew’s $11.6 million? Here are their numbers since entering the NHL together in 2016/2017.
Player GP G A PTS PTS/G TOI/G
Marner 225 65 146 211 0.94 17:29
Matthews 196 104 88 192 0.98 17:58
Matthews is more of a shooter while Marner is a passer. Marner has the 20th most points over the past three seasons while Matthews is tied for 30th. If Matthews makes $11.6 million, does Marner have a case for $11 million? I don’t see him getting less than $10.5 million, but I wonder if he gets more if he signs for seven or eight seasons?
In case you are wondering, Leon Draisaitl is 10th over the past three years with 95-135-230 in 226 games. I argued at the time of his $8.5 million contract signing it wasn’t an overpay. The next GM of the Edmonton Oilers must avoid overpaying other free agents, especially on long-term contracts. Unless the player is going to be one or your core pieces there is little reason to sign them for more than three years. And for depth players, I’d go no longer than two years right now.
Just mental breakdowns, Nurse drifted too deep on that play. He wants to create offence but his defensive game is suffering
— hstjean (@realfan99) March 5, 2019
A few others in my feed also wanted to blame Nurse for the Sabres goal.
Blaming Nurse is incorrect. Coaches are encouraging D-men to join odd-man rushes, especially when they have complete control of the puck. Zack Kassian missed the net, and when you miss it far side it can turn into an odd-man rush the other way. Nurse makes his decision to join the rush ten strides earlier. He can’t wait to jump up in the rush after Kassian shoots. Nurse made the right decision. It is unfortunate he fell down, but realize that so did the forward, Sam Reinhart, who was backchecking. The three-on-one the other way included a defenceman, which was the D-man on Kassian’s side. No one made a wrong read here, Kassian just missed the net.
The fourth man on the rush, or even entering the slot when a team has control, is how many teams generate offence today. It is talked about in most meetings. Teams encourage defenders to join the rush and add pressure. Look at Nurse’s goal from last night. He read the play well, saw Draisaitl had control on the boards, found the opening in the slot and ripped it home. The Sabres have trouble with motion. The only time they would want Nurse to not jump off as aggressively is when they are holding a lead in the third. Hitchcock has talked often about wanting the D to be more active and join the rush. Nurse made the right play.
When analyzing the game, try to avoid mixing up different plays. When Nurse makes, what you deem, an incorrect read in the defensive zone, then you can mention it, but stating his jumping up in the play was incorrect, or that is why his defensive game is suffering is confusing two separate points.
I’d argue Nurse has really improved his offensive reads in the offensive zone. Knowing when to jump in a rush, or like he showed on his goal, slide into the opening is a skill and he has improved his reads a lot this season.
After a few conversations with sources, and then speaking with a few doctors it sounds like Jesse Puljujarvi had a Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI). He had surgery on both his hips yesterday. Here is a page that can describe what it is much better than I can.
As you read there are three types of FAI, and I cannot say which type he had. It is interesting to note what causes it.
FAI occurs because the hip bones do not form normally during the childhood growing years. It is the deformity of a cam bone spur, pincer bone spur, or both, that leads to joint damage and pain. When the hip bones are shaped abnormally, there is little that can be done to prevent FAI.
It is not known how many people have FAI. Some people may live long, active lives with FAI and never have problems. When symptoms develop, however, it usually indicates that there is damage to the cartilage or labrum and the disease is likely to progress.
Because athletic people may work the hip joint more vigorously, they may begin to experience pain earlier than those who are less active. However, exercise does not cause FAI.
As I mentioned last week, he had some sort of bone spur. I dug into it more and FAI is the proper term. He was able to skate without pain, but once he engaged in any battle, which would cause tension, that is when the pain would occur.
So they met with two different doctors and it was determined surgery would be the best option for Puljujarvi. Surgery is always the last option, because there is always a small chance something could go wrong, like an infection, or in the case of former Edmonton Eskimo linebacker Steve Marsh, he had heavy scar tissue build up after ACL surgery and was unable to play football again. His case is very rare, but the reason Puljujarvi and other athletes go for a second opinion is to ensure surgery is the only way to cure it. As the Ortho page says about FIA, surgery is the best option, but it isn’t always a guarantee.
“Surgery can successfully reduce symptoms caused by impingement. Correcting the impingement can prevent future damage to the hip joint. However, not all of the damage can be completely fixed by surgery, especially if treatment has been put off and the damage is severe. It is possible that more problems may develop in the future.
While there is a small chance that surgery might not help, it is currently the best way to treat painful FAI.”
The Oilers tweeted yesterday Puljujarvi had successful surgery so hopefully when he returns next season he is pain free.