Week 19 of the Nerdy 30+1: Chelsea Knackered and Phan-Oof

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AP Photo/Jim Mone

As we get closer to the trade deadline, every team across the league will need to figure out whether they have any shot at making the playoffs or not. Sure, they can go ahead and look at the standings and think they have picked up enough overtime losses to keep them going. But really, they just need to read my posts and see where they really stand.

With that in mind a former Stanley Cup champion has officially had their fall from grace. That’s right my friends, Chicago has been knocked out of their perch and have been eliminated from this week’s edition of the Nerdy 30+1.

  • 31. Ottawa (82-game Standings Points Pace: 72 points, Last Week: 30)
  • 30. Buffalo (Pace: 64 pts, LW: 31)
  • 29. Arizona (Pace: 59 pts, LW: 29)
  • 28. Vancouver (Pace: 71 pts, LW: 28)
  • 27. Detroit (Pace: 81 pts, LW: 27)
  • 26. Florida (Pace: 85 pts, LW: 26)
  • 25. New York Islanders (Pace: 86 pts, LW: 25)
  • 24. Edmonton (Pace: 73 pts, LW: 23)
  • 23. Montreal (Pace: 73 pts, LW: 24)

Welp, we’ve got another Montreal update for you, and yep, it’s still bad.

There’s not a single Canadien that has even put up 40 points this season and only Max Pacioretty, Brandon Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk look like they’ll be going over that total by season’s end. Everyone else has either gotten too old or have been missing due to injury. To go along with that, Carey Price’s has just been awful to the tune of a 90.4% save percentage.

But before we go into further details, I’d like to point out that Montreal has now gone 9-16-4 since their 10-1 win over Detroit on December 2nd. That result truly was a curse! During that span, they have been outscored 67-91 and their 2.29 goals for per hour in all-situations since is the lowest in the entire NHL. Essentially, Jonathan Drouin hasn’t been able to replace all the offensive production that was lost from Alex Radulov and Shea Weber has been missed. However, there are more details to Montreal’s worsening than that.

For starts, Montreal essentially has an entirely new defense corps for the exception of Weber and Jeff Petry. Bluntly, none of them have shown that they can be a long term piece in the NHL, for now. Maybe Victor Mete will have what it takes, but to see him being thrown into the fire as a 19-year old just seems to be an act of torture. Along with that, Joe Morrow and Jakub Jerabek are 25 and 26 years old playing their first full NHL seasons. You just can’t count on players like that for the long term.

Now the Canadiens do have four picks in the first two rounds of this summer’s NHL entry draft, but can you really trust Montreal into drafting the necessary talent to start a rebuild? You have to go back all the way to 2007 where they were able to draft multiple players that played over 300 career games and made an impact for Montreal. Their draft history since the millennium began is full of wasted picks or high-end talent that played their best elsewhere. So in other words, Montreal is a stereotypical Canadian franchise that cowers under the pressure of their fans to go all in every year, no matter how stupid of an idea it is to do so. If only they had a general manager that had a spine and knew how to build a team correctly.

  • 22. Chicago (Pace: 79 pts, LW: 18)
  • 21. Washington (Pace: 105 pts, LW: 22)
  • 20. Anaheim (Pace: 93 pts, LW: 20)
  • 19. New York Rangers (Pace: 83 pts, LW: 19)
  • 18. Columbus (Pace: 89 pts, LW: 21)
  • 17. Colorado (Pace: 97 pts, LW: 17)

After losing their eighth straight game against Anaheim (with seven going in regulation), it’s very difficult to see how the once proud Chicago Blackhawks can get out of the hole they have dug themselves in. Since January 12th, the former Stanley Cup Champions have gone 2-10-1 and have been outscored 24-47.

Along with that, Chicago has been throwing cupcakes to goaltenders when they were in need of throwing fastballs at even strength. In other words, a 4.7% shooting percentage at even strength since the start of their malaise isn’t any good at all. It’s not like their trying, though. In fact, their 177 expected goals is well above the 162 Chicago has actually racked up shows how much their offense has been clicking. Along with that, their 66.7 shot attempts per hour at even strength leads the entire NHL.

However, Corey Crawford has been missed badly. The veteran netminder hasn’t been in game action since December 27th due to concussion-like symptoms and there has been zero timetable as to when he’ll be back. For Chicago’s sake, it might be best for him to sit out the year with how the season has been going. That previous sentence might be nails on a chalkboard for Blackbhawks fans because Anton Forsberg has been nothing short of a disaster. I feel for him because Forsberg is still only 25 years old and was among the better goaltenders during his time in the AHL. But at the NHL level, he just hasn’t been able to carry that same production over.

Along with that, I wouldn’t trust Jeff Glass if my life depended on it. Yes, Glass is a real feel good story for making his NHL debut at 32 years old, but there’s a reason it took him until he was 32 to make his NHL debut. You have to go all the way back to his 2012-13 season where Glass has (1) been the go-to starter for his team and (2) played at an above average level via save percentage. That was when he played 38 games for a Novosibirsk Sibir side that had Jori Lehtera and Nikita Zaitsev in the fold. Again, there’s a reason it took this long for Jeff Glass to make his NHL debut.

Lastly, this defense is not good anymore. You can find worse units out there, but being the sixth worst team in the NHL in even strength shots against and high definition chances against simply isn’t going to cut it. So not only are Chicago’s AHL-level goaltenders not able to make any saves, but they are getting shellacked by constant Grade A chances against them.

So along with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad having miserable campaigns, as well as Duncan Keith needing yesterday to score his first goal all-season, Chicago has some real deep-lying problems that are so difficult for them to get out of by April. Such is life for a team that is so far up against the salary cap, yet has an aging squad to go along with it.

  • 16. Calgary (Pace: 96 pts, LW: 15)
  • 15. New Jersey (Pace: 95 pts, LW: 16)
  • 14. Los Angeles (Pace: 94 pts, LW: 11)

So the trade deadline got started this week in what could be one of the dumbest trades I have seen in recent memory. So the Kings are second in the NHL in total goals against. Along with that, they are slightly above league average in even strength shot suppression and their penalty kill has the fourth best efficiency at 83.3%. However, it’s their offense that is Los Angeles’ real problem. Most of that has to do with Jeff Carter only being able to play three games this season, as well as Marian Gaborik struggling post-Stanley Cup ring to play over 65 games per season.

Still, what was the incentive for the team with a good defense to bring in the worst defender from the worst defensive team in the entire league? Even if you want to say you’re getting rid of dead weight, said dead weight can still bring positive contributions when healthy. Even while three years younger, there has been no sign of Dion Phaneuf being even a league average defender since when he was traded from Calgary. Yes, that was when he was 24 years old back in 2009-10. He genuinely has been poisoned that much by bad coaching, bad linemates and in someways, bad self-improvement.

Look, I’m not here to pull a Steve Simmons and accuse him of being lazy or anything. But somewhere along the line, you have to see a guy that is giving up over 72 shot attempts per hour at even strength and call him a bad defender, regardless of the situation. His most common linemates, Cody Ceci and Erik Karlsson, both play better away from him than with him and that is all you need to know about where Phaneuf stands as a hockey player. It’s quite fitting that Dion Phaneuf went on to score Los Angeles’ only goal in his debut, yet right away give up a rate of 85.3 shot attempts per hour while on the ice against Pittsburgh. Immediately, that puts him dead last among any defensemen wearing a Kings sweater this season.

With Los Angeles being an aging team and needing to find margins of victory over Calgary and Anaheim every week, this seems like a downgrade rather than an improvement no matter what. We clearly are no longer in the Dean Lombardi and Daryl Sutter era, folks.

  • 13. Philadelphia (Pace: 95 pts, LW: 13)
  • 12. Carolina (Pace: 89 pts, LW: 12)
  • 11. Pittsburgh (Pace: 97 pts, LW: 14)
  • 10. San Jose (Pace: 99 pts, LW: 10)
  • 9. Minnesota (Pace: 98 pts, LW: 8)
  • 8. St. Louis (Pace: 100 pts, LW: 7)
  • 7. Winnipeg (Pace: 108 pts, LW: 9)
  • 6. Nashville (Pace: 113 pts, LW: 6)
  • 5. Dallas (Pace: 101 pts, LW: 4)
  • 4. Toronto (Pace: 104 pts, LW: 5)
  • 3. Vegas (Pace: 115 pts, LW: 3)
  • 2. Tampa Bay (Pace: 115 pts, LW: 1)
  • 1. Boston (Pace: 116 pts, LW: 2)

Like the city itself, the Philadelphia Flyers are flat out strange. For starts, Philadelphia’s defense is elite, yet their goaltending no longer is any good. That might not get better any time soon either now that Brian Elliott is on the shelf due to recovering from abdominal surgery.

But for now, let’s take a look at their 12-4-2 stretch since January 4th. However, the Flyers only outscored the opposition 62-53 during that stretch of games; implying that this should have been a run in which this team wasn’t THAT successful in. Instead, Philadelphia was able to go 5-1-2 in one-goal games, including 5-0-2 in games decided past regulation. To put the coup de gras on this matter, the Flyers have shot a fourth best 9.7% at even strength during this run of games.

That last stat is important to mention, because the Flyers loooooooooooove to shoot from the point and nowhere else. This should come as no surprise. Shayne Ghostisbehere is a beautiful human being as is Ivan Provorov. What is shocking is seeing everybody’s favorite punching bag, Andrew McDonald, pick up nine of his 12 points during Philadelphia’s hot streak. Speaking of punching bags, Radko Gudas has five in 18 games. Meanwhile, this is all going down while Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are skyrocketing up the point-getting leader board. This is all despite the fact that those two struggle to get to shoot above 10% in all situations for the majority of the past four seasons.

Lastly, Sean Couturier is on the brink of doubling his goal tally compared to any other season of his career…and we still have two months of this season to go. Maybe he got the memo that Patrice Bergeron has been improving his offensive output, so he has to do it too. So yeah, this whole Flyers team is weird, but so is the entire Metropolitan Division. Maybe the Capitals make it to the Conference Finals because of this logic alone. After all, it is how the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

 

 

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