Another week has passed, which means we have another edition of the Nerdy 30+1. Except this time, we need to knock someone off of playoff contention. Amazingly, it has been an established force who just can’t seem to get things right or have things go their way despite an established head coach….
31. Arizona (82-game standings points pace: 44 points, Last Week: 31) 30. Buffalo (Pace: 52 pts, LW: 30) 29. Montreal (Pace: 68 pts, LW: 24)
- 28. Anaheim (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 28)
- 27. Washington (Pace: 89 pts, LW: 29)
- 26. Florida (Pace: 70 pts, LW: 25)
- 25. Pittsburgh (Pace: 89 pts, LW: 22)
- 24. Detroit (Pace: 86 pts, LW: 23)
Welp, Montreal is in serious trouble right now as every Canadiens fan is searching for solutions to fix this team. Claude Julien is on the hot seat despite only being around for nine months. Stop me if you haven’t heard this before, but Carey Price has been out with an undisclosed return date due to a lower body injury. Not so much of a big deal, but stop me if you haven’t heard this before, but Ales Hemsky has been out for a month, this time due to a concussion.
Also, stop me if you haven’t heard this before, but a Claude Julien coached team is actually fine from an underlying numbers standpoint. If it wasn’t for a 96.6 PDO, this team would be so much better than being knocked out of these power rankings. The problem has been their lack of offense (stop me if haven’t heard that before) despite having the fourth highest shot generation at even strength and the second highest shot generation on the power play.
Beyond a 29-year old Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, nobnody on Montreal is scoring more than a goal every four games: in other words, a 20-goal pace. Also, nobody beyond these two and a 13-game output from Joe Morrow is shooting over 10% in all situations. Along with that, replacing key players like Sven Andrighetto, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Markov for Jonathan Drouin, Karl Alzner and a nine-game cameo from Andreas Martinsen has clearly been a net negative not just from an offensive standpoint, but also all-around.
One player that can really turn things around for this team has been their most enigmatic (gee, I wonder what nationality he is?) of them all. At 23, Alex Galchenyuk still has years ahead of him to reach his untapped potential. However, his 7.1% all-situations shooting percentage is well below his career 13.0% shooting despite ramping up his shot rate to 2.43 per game. The outcome has resulted in just four goals and eight points in 23 games; all career low rates.
In his first full season in the NHL, Charles Hudon only has two goals in 22 games and a 3.1% shooting percentage. Yes, that is a worst shooting percentage than league average offensive defenseman. However, Hudon’s 75 goals and 162 points in 207 career AHL games suggests that he has enough skill to make an impact, at least in the same tier that Phillip Danault did. Lastly, Jonathan Drouin can absolutely do better than his 5.1% shooting percentage after becoming a 50-point player last season.
Goaltending is a matter that will always be out of Claude Julien’s control, even though it should have been receiving the poison chalice of 2018 that is Antti Niemi. However, this is not new news that Montreal lacks playmakers. And because of that and of Marc Bergevin’s never ending incompetence as a general manager is why these boys should be eliminated from playoff contention already.
- 23. Boston (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 26)
- 22. Edmonton (Pace: 67 pts, LW: 19)
- 21. Vancouver (Pace: 93 pts, LW: 27)
- 20. Winnipeg (Pace: 113 pts, LW: 21)
- 19. Ottawa (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 13)
- 18. Dallas (Pace: 86 pts, LW: 20)
- 17. Chicago (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 16)
Is Vancouver still a mediocre team? Absolutely. But since they are not the worst team in the league and that Brock Boeser has become the future face of the franchise they have been begging for, the best case scenario has already happened for them. That being said, this hockey club still has a long way to go before they ever get back to the NHL’s elite.
For starts, we need to talk about Boeser. Yes, he leads the team with 11 goals, 21 points and 58 shots on goal in 19 games. However, his 20.8% shooting percentage is just not going to last throughout the entirety of his career unless he just so happens to be an American Steven Stamkos. Along with that, a 46.2% shot attempt for percentage is just inexcusable for a player of his talent.
He has not played with any other forward for over 10% of his even strength ice time outside of Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat. Both teammates have seen their puck possession skyrocket when playing without the 20-year old. Yes, these are small sample sizes, but this is not a good thing to see fellow offense first players seek better alternatives.
On the whole, Vancouver does not have much to look forward to offensively. They are 20th in the league with their 61-goal output this season and it is a result of their fourth worst rate in even strength shot attempts and their third worst rate in power play shot attempts. If it wasn’t for a seventh best 14.5% on the man-advantage, who knows how much worse Vancouver’s attack would be. It’s not a good sign when eternal nomad Sam Gagner is third on the team in total shots on goal.
Lastly, having a line of Derek Dorsett, Markus Granlund and Brandon Sutter play over 13 minutes of even strength ice time while the Sedin Twins and Thomas Vanek only play 10 minutes of even strength ice time is not ideal at all. Also, Jake Virtanen LOL…
The defense and goaltending for Vancouver has been very solid all year and is a clear strength of this team. That being said, that depth is getting stretched now that Troy Stecher, Erik Gudbranson and Chris Tanev have missed game time due to injury. But once the offense gets better, Vancouver won’t be thinking about playoff hockey anytime soon.
- 16. Colorado (Pace: 94 pts, LW: 17)
- 15. New York Rangers (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 18)
- 14. Nashville (Pace: 109 pts, LW: 15)
- 13. Calgary (Pace: 98 pts, LW: 14)
- 12. New Jersey (Pace: 109 pts, LW: 11)
- 11. Los Angeles (Pace: 97 pts, LW: 8)
- 10. New York Islanders (Pace: 102 pts, LW: 10)
- 9. Carolina (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 12)
In what seemed like a concerning October, Nashville has seemed to right the ship by winning eight of the last nine games. But considering how high they are in the standings, you would think they would be among the league’s elite in these power rankings. However, that is not even close to the case.
The reason for that is that despite having a 68-62 actual goals count, the Predators have been experiencing a 56.1-60.0 expected goals count based on their shot generation and shot quality in all situations. One surge in their actual goals count has been their league leading 18.4% on the power play despite only generating the 23rd best shot attempt rate in that department at 95.9 per hour. Because of that success, Nashville is seeing a +4 goal differential despite being shorthanded ten more times than being on the power play.
Defensively, Nashville’s is actually fine with the seventh-best shot even strength prevention rate at 55.8 attempts per hour, but their 91.6% save percentage levels them off to a league-average goal prevention team. Along with that, they have the third best shot prevention rate at 89.1 attempts per hour. In other words, Peter Laviolette’s team is no different than what they were from 2015-16 in which the goaltending is mediocre, but the defense is elite.
If anything, the offense could generate better habits in order for them to return to their success from last summer. Kyle Turris has been great with five points in his first six games, but his 48.5% puck possession has been unsurprisingly poor for what is required for this team. Also, seeing P.K. Subban be tortured statistically thanks to playing with Alexei Emelin is not ideal at all. That won’t change until Ryan Ellis returns from his offseason knee surgery in January, but you can tell this team hasn’t completely been fixed just yet. Once they do, they surely will be a scary outfit.
- 8. Philadelphia (Pace: 78 pts, LW: 6)
- 7. Minnesota (Pace: 90 pts, LW: 7)
- 6. Columbus (Pace: 108 pts, LW: 9)
- 5. Toronto (Pace: 103 pts, LW: 4)
- 4. San Jose (Pace: 94 pts, LW: 2)
- 3. Vegas (Pace: 111 pts, LW: 5)
- 2. St. Louis (Pace: 123 pts, LW: 3)
- 1. Tampa Bay (Pace: 133 pts, LW: 1)
So I think I’ve waited long enough to write about the best team in the NHL, and by the way people, it’s not even close. With the sixth best power play in shot attempt generation, the fourth best shot prevention on the penalty kill and a top ten outfit in even strength two-way play, the Lightning don’t have many weaknesses within hte roster. That within itself is enough to guide them towards the best record in the NHL and an easy favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
Steven Stamkos is finally in complete health and is having the career season that we have been begging for for so long. What has put people off guard is that he has more than double the assists (26) as he has goals (10). If anything, all the goal scoring exploits have gone to 40-goal scorer Nikita Kucherov, who has 17 to start the season. Tyler Johnson still hasn’t been the same player as he was from 2014-15, but Yanni Gourde and Braydon Point have more than made up the difference for his lack of production.
In defense, general manager Steve Yzerman must be dying laughing for how much he swindled Montreal by getting their former top ten pick, Mikhail Sergachev. Now 19, the 2016 ninth overall pick has not only become an NHL mainstay, but has immediately been among Tampa’s best defenseman. That says a lot considering they have Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman already on this team. As long as Braydon Coburn and Dan Girardi continue to play bottom pairing minutes, the Lightning will be elite on the backend.
In goal, you could not have asked for a more perfect transition from Ben Bishop to Andrei Vasilevsky as the 23-year old has more than lived up to his reputation as among the most underrated in the league. Before you know it, he’ll be among the five to ten best every year. It has been all going according to plan for Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper as they have slowly eliminated the aging dead wood from previous seasons and replaced them with sure fire prospects who have come good.