December 13 2016 02:00PM
When the season began, the Calgary Flames had a problem. A big problem. Their power play was powerless. In short? It was awful. It took them 22 games to score seven power play goals. For comparison's sake, they have seven power play goals through five games in December.
Prior to Saturday's Flames game against Winnipeg, head coach Glen Gulutzan had a simple assessment of what's different with the power play's recent success:
It's confidence, when they start to go in they go in in bunches. Even if you go beyond the four games or back past, we were creating some good chances they just weren't going in. When we look at it, our stats, we haven't created as good of chances, but they're going in. So that's why we're going to try to keep pushing on the power play, so we don't get complacent. But they're just going in right now.
We ran the numbers.
December 13 2016 01:00PM
Ice time isn't given. It's earned. That's an adage that's been repeated across the hockey world, and Vancouver is no exception.
It pertains especially to younger players, and Canucks' President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden repeated the common refrain earlier this year pertaining to sophomore forward Jake Virtanen:
"As long as I've been part of the game, especially at the pro level, there's an element of earning your time... I think a lot of players would say, "Give me more time and I'll play better', and the coach would say 'Play better, and I'll give you more time.'"
That's a fair stance to take, especially with a young player. It's not as though the assessment isn't without merit, either. During his tenure with Vancouver, he was the team's wort forward by shot shares and struggled to produce offence, even in a limited role.
December 13 2016 11:00AM
Michael Carcone fend off an Edmonton Oilers defender in the pre-season.
Photo Credit: Peter Llewellyn - USA TODAY Sports
We're a few years into Jim Benning's run at the top of the Canucks, and we're starting to see trends develop as a result. For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to focus on an area of strength and look at developments made at the draft.
Vancouver's made a point of selecting players from the USHL, and the results so far indicate they're on their way to paydirt. The OHL doesn't lag far behind in the Canucks' collective scope, as they've mined that league on many occasions over the last three seasons. Lastly, they're prospecting the QMJHL it seems.
Investing in the QMJHL isn't a surefire bet. Just looking at Canucks' development camps, and it's a who's who of players from the Q who've been passed over, sometimes in multiple drafts. That speaks to the uncertainty.
The Canucks haven't always gone that route, though. If their record in 2016 is any indication, it might be a developing trend for the Canucks heading into their fourth draft with Benning at the helm.
This is a topic worth exploring, so let's dive into it.
December 12 2016 05:55PM
It's time for your weekly dose of the NHL Numbers power rankings, a weekly look on the previous week in the NHL. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.
Note: All use of Corsi For and Expected Goals For are Score and Venue Adjusted, and at even strength. All stats come from Corsica Hockey, and NHL.com (don't worry, it's only the standings).
NHLN Notebook: Leastern Conference no more, Doughty Norris Speculation, and Girgensons Trade Rumours
December 12 2016 12:36PM
The Eastern conference may no longer be the Leastern conference. Four out of the top five teams in the league come from the East, and that becomes all five if you sort by winning percentage. The Metropolitan division is leading the way with five teams projected to either come close or break the 100-point threshold. Both Wild Card spots will likely be occupied by Metropolitan teams and the East will feature some of the league's strongest teams come playoff time. Pittsburgh doesn't look like its missed a beat and Philadelphia and Columbus look like new threats.