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Tuesday Tidbits

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.
2019??

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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.

Twitter Talk…

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.

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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.

INCORRECT BLAME…

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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.

PULJUJARVI SURGERY…

Nov 27, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars defensemen Joel Hanley (39) tries to check Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Spydyr

    Too bad the Oilers cannot send Puljujarvi down to the Condors for a conditioning stint that lasts at least to after Christmas.Unfortunately the Oilers have bungled almost every aspect of his developmental including playing him more that nine games his first season allowing him to be waiver eligible next season. Thus guaranteeing him and NHL spot in the fall.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      This may explain it though Spydyr? The team including Hitch saw potential but the hip joints wouldn’t allow him to play to that potential. The skill level spurts he showed were just too positive to send him down. And the pain in his hips was just too much to enable his job to be done to the fullest…
      If & when this surgery comes full circle, we will be gifted with a more complete sample of what Jessie can bring to the table. This is a positive, for now anyway.

        • Finnaggled

          the article says it develops in childhood, so he’s had it his whole playing career. I’d guess its bad, I always maintain we need to trade him, he just doesn’t have the hockey iq, or the hips it seems.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Plus, he comes from a “hick” Finnish town that doesn’t even have pizza, let alone possibly a great doctor. If you wanted to play in the big leagues as a teenager, would you actually tell anyone you had a genetic hip disease? Especially not knowing if it can be fixed…
          He played through his pain, showing spurts of promise but couldn’t sustain. The Columbus GM passed on him because of the inconsistency. Kudos to the Oilers trainers & doctors that were able to recognize his issue and hopefully help him through it & make him the player he should become, … hopefully. But I like the Oilers forethought on this issue, it shows everyone that they are behind the players.

  • Die Hard Oiler Fan

    Thanks Jason for the detailed update on Jesse. Despite the fact that his performance to date has not been what we hoped (I pin almost all of the blame on the Oilers organization), I remain a huge fan of his. Your research suggests that a “second opinion” was perfectly normal under the circumstances. Hopefully this puts an end to all the comments suggesting the second opinion was some kind of ploy by Jesse and his agent to prevent him from being sent down to Bakersfield. Also, hoping that Jesse has ample time to recoup over the summer and have a great start to the 2019/20 season WITH EDMONTON.

  • ziyan94

    The hip(s) injury explains his limited minutes recently.
    Jesse was scoring with ease in the preseason, here’s hoping that he has a full recovery so that we can see him succeed next season in an Oilers uniform.

  • CMG30

    Considering the nature of JP’s injury, the Oilers should pump the brakes on any trade involving the player for another year or so to see what they actually have. They’ve bungled everything around the player so far, nobody should be ready to give up on a 20 year old with miles of runway left.

  • Wadentheshade

    I’m hearing JP was spending too much time in the gym with heavy objects that may have created these hip issues? Shouldn’t the conditioning/strength coach be working with him to make sure these types of things don’t happen? Or is thing something that has happened over years of improper training?

  • Oily Reign

    I’m not a fan of that cheap shot artist, Marchand, but that tweet was hilarious. Talk up the rfa contracts of all the Leafs coming up. The sooner that Toronto joins us in cap hell, the sooner that the NHL will help them get out of it by raising the cap. A rising tide raises all boats.

  • OilCan2

    As the injuries go so goes the team. Sekera and then Klefbom was the arrow to the heart this season. In a perfect season guys like Khiara and Puljujarvi earn more than their pay by having their best season so far.

    • cityofchampions

      That is exactly the problem, we dont have the depth to cover for injuries. Every team gets injuries to key players every year, and the Oilers will have injuries to key players again next year. You can’t just hope for an injury free year, you have to plan to have depth. It is no accident the year we made the playoffs we were extremely healthy, but that isnt a strategy it is just good luck and good teams dont depend on luck.

  • 2centz

    Too early to give up on Puljujarvi. Even our beloved Ales Hemsky didn’t hit his stride in the NHL until he was 22, after spending his 21yr old season over seas during the lockout. The Oilers need to stop rushing their European and Russian prospects. I would’ve let Jesse stay in Europe for at least two seasons, instead of waiting for the next 18yr old saviour.

  • Gorf27

    Late comment, but I took a look at the video on the the 3-1 Buffalo goal by Eichel, and noticed that Leon skated hard to get back in the play after the turnover. He started behind the Sabres net, and basically caught up to the Buffalo winger beside our net when the goal was scored. He also sailed past Zack. Didn’t get a result in this case, but maybe more effort and ‘a 200 foot game’ is contributing to his recent point production…