The Canucks took care of business in their preseason home opener, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on the back of a couple power play goals. The Oilers had their projected top line playing in this game along with a handful of other players who should be on their NHL roster come opening night. The Canucks, on the other hand, had a lineup that consisted mostly of roster hopefuls, AHL-ers and a couple guys on PTO. Here’s what I learned from the game.
- Connor McDavid was the best player on the ice by a mile but he had a few chances that were squandered by Milan Lucic missing the net or not handling his passes cleanly. Probably just rink rust or Lucic adjusting to the speed McDavid plays with. I’ll give it a few regular season games before I label it as a concern.
- Anton Rodin had a very good game for the Canucks. He finished off a great pass from Troy Stecher on the Canucks game-winning goal in the third period. Rodin was a draft pick of their’s in 2009 and has been playing in Sweden for the past three years, so he isn’t a prospect anymore but Vancouver needs all the help they can get up front.
- Griffin Reinhart was getting beaten to the outside by Vancouver’s depth players. The goal he scored was nice, but he looked slow when moving laterally and defending the blue line.
- If Emerson Etem ever improves at making plays in the offensive zone then he could be a hell of a player because he looked dangerous off the rush at times. A few plays died on his stick, though.
- Drake Caggiula made the most noise on the scoresheet and he along with Patrick Maroon did a lot of good things in the first period. Maroon surprised me a little with some of his passes but there’s always more open space in exhibition play.
If you were wondering where most of the Islanders roster was against the Flyers on Tuesday night, they were a few hours up I-95 playing a game against the Rangers. Unfortunately for them, their outcome wasn’t much better as they dropped a 5-2 loss to their cross-town rivals. Like we’ve seen in most preseason games, special teams were the deciding factor with the Rangers striking twice on the power play and getting solid performances from a few of their off-season acquisitions.
Both teams went with pretty different rosters, as the Rangers played a lot of young players and went with a blue line composed mostly of rookies and AHL-ers while the Islanders dressed more of a veteran forward corps. The main exception for them was that their first round pick from last year, Mathew Barzal, got a look as the first line center in between Andrew Ladd & PA Parenteau. How did he do with the increased minutes? We’ll look into that along with some of the Rangers top performers.
The Flyers picked up their first win of the preseason Tuesday night with a 4-0 shutout of the Islanders. This was a split-squad game for the Islanders, with the other half of the roster being in New York for a game against the Rangers. Combine that with some of their other players being at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto and they were left with a skeleton lineup for this game, dressing only a few players who will see NHL time this year. In other words, the results don’t mean much to them here, but it was a chance for them to evaluate some young players and one of their top prospects in Josh Ho-Sang, who got to play top-six minutes and power play time this game.
This was an evaluation game for the Flyers, as well who dressed a few of their top defensive prospects in Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers and Ivan Provorov. All three of them had pretty impressive showings in this game and it will be interesting to see who the Flyers end up keeping at the end of training camp.
If you missed last night’s preseason game between the Capitals & Canadiens because you were watching something else or doing something more productive with your time, here’s a quick rundown:
- Both teams took a lot of penalties.
- Nathan Beaulieu & Greg Pateryn ran the show for the Habs power play and carried them through most of the game.
- Torrey Mitchell scored two goals and both of them were off pretty nice plays. I suppose most fourth liners have had games like this in the preseason
- Washington dressed a lineup with maybe 5-6 players who are likely to make their NHL team and the result matches that.
- Madison Bowey got another game for the Caps and he was pretty solid at moving the puck out of the zone cleanly. The rest of their defense had a lot of problems in this regard, so he was a clear standout for me.
- Andrew Shaw made a terrible hit from behind on Caps defenseman Connor Hobbs and should probably get suspended for it.
- I think the refs were being generous with giving out power plays because the five-on-five play was really that bad to watch.
Now onto the stats.
It’s hard to generate storylines this early in the pre-season but Monday’s tilt between the New Jersey Devils & Montreal Canadiens had some talking points. It was our first look at Taylor Hall in a Devils uniform and even in the pre-season it’s always nice to watch a player of his skill. It was also our first look at some of New Jersey’s young defensemen, a couple of whom we might see more of this year as they have a couple open spots on their blue line. This was a split-squad game for them, so most of their regular players were back in Newark taking on the Flyers, but one of their potential first line made the trip to Montreal & they impressed in what ended up being a 3-2 win.
As for the Habs, a handful of their regular forwards dressed for this game and even though they took the loss, they got a couple of impressive showings from some of their own young forwards.
Some big things were happening in DC last night as the Washington Capitals kicked off their pre-season against the Carolina Hurricanes. If you were too busy to catch this game then you didn’t miss a whole lot. It was a pretty low-event affair between two teams who were playing their first game in 4-5 months and it looked just like that. There were some dramatics with Justin Faulk winning the game in overtime on a late power play goal but overall, this was a pretty standard pre-season game.
The Canes had a pretty exciting off-season, acquiring Teuvo Teravainen from the Blackhawks and signing 2015 draft pick and World Juniors star Sebastian Aho to a entry-level contract. They also brought in Lee Stempniak to shore up their forward corps. This game featured none of those players. Most of the Washington Captials stars were also absent, as both Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom participated in the World Cup of Hockey and were not dressed in this game for obvious reasons.
So why am I writing a post on it then? Mostly because it’s the first NHL game that’s been televised here since the Stanley Cup Finals and it’s my first chance to test how I’m going to be sharing data for the upcoming season. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the stats from this game.
Continuing with our look at the Western Conference Finals, we’re now going to dive into the offensive zone play of both teams by diving into the passing data we introduced in the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh series. If you remember from the last post, San Jose owned the Blues in most of the shot categories this series and most of it stemmed from their play in the neutral zone, especially on the defensive side. St. Louis wasn’t moving the puck up the ice efficiently, had to dump the puck in on most of their entries and ended up getting hammered on the shot counter as a result. This was the root of their problem when it came to manufacturing offense it seemed to get worse when you go beyond that as the Sharks drastically outshot them on entries.
The Blues inability to create shots played a major role in this series but the Sharks own play in the offensive zone is also worth talking about. One thing that’s stayed consistent throughout the playoffs is the Sharks massively outshooting their opponents off carry-ins. They haven’t been the strongest team in the neutral zone when it comes to the ability to generate carry-ins, but when they get the chance to do so, they typically generate a massive number of shots. It was a big reason why they advanced past Nashville in the Divisional Round and they continued their strong play against the Blues.
There are a lot of questions regarding the repeatability of offensive zone play, but it’s something that has always been a big factor for the Sharks. When they were coached by Todd McLellan, San Jose was always one of the best teams in the league at generating shots and owning the possession battle and they’ve done this while playing a heavy dump-and-chase game in the neutral zone. Going off what wev’e seen in the playoffs, this continued under Pete DeBoer and they’ve found some success with it, especially in this series.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at what makes San Jose such a dangerous team and what they did to have success against the Blues. We’ll also look at a few things that went wrong for St. Louis and what the Sharks did to frustrate them.