We're not too far from the collective sigh in Edmonton when Connor McDavid didn't win the Hart Trophy – mostly because the Oilers missed the playoffs a few seasons ago.
But now that they've been in the picture all season and seem to be firmly in the middle of the playoffs for a little over a month in the season, an injury and an outstanding performance will probably not hold him this year either in the picture.
Who would have thought that the name that is causing the most stir right now is in McDavid's own team – and in our Spotlight Cast of the Week.
Whether he plays in the middle or on the grand piano, I was quite optimistic that Leon Draisaitl is significantly better than some of his critics who have seriously docked him for playing with McDavid. One of his greatest strengths as a player is his ability to move the puck in a controlled manner on the ice, where very few of his colleagues can reach it.
However, the strength of the transition is rarely what the Hart Trophy voters notice – they are usually much more interested in his 99 points in the league, 11 more than any other player in the league.
Usually, a player like Draisaitl, who uses a shotgun for most of his ice age to be shotgun player, will get a little in the rankings, but McDavid is missing two weeks in February just to see Draisaitl wearing The Oilers in his eyes opened a few times.
In the six games that McDavid missed, Draisaitl led 12 points – one less than Mika Zibanejad for the league lead at that time, although Zibanejad played two additional games.
Draisaitl played more than 25 minutes a night while McDavid was on the go and almost 23 minutes a night all season. Contrary to expectations that he would play so much, Draisaitl has actually reinforced it lately.
Just to drive home, as incredible as McDavid is, in the first three months of the season the gap between the amount of crime he caused directly and the amount that Draisaitl caused was equal to or greater than the gap between Draisaitl and a league. average striker.
Since the calendar was turned to 2020, Draisaitl has skyrocketed the rankings and actually caused more insults per minute played than McDavid – which is pretty impressive, especially given the weight of expectations placed on him and that exaggerated ice age.
It is questionable whether Draisaitl can maintain this level of performance for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Doing so would make a big contribution to the Oilers' competitiveness, and it is important to note that he is doing this without playing with McDavid – this is only strength.
I'm not sure if Draisaitl's raw point production and the phenomenal second half of the season are enough to beat him against players who have had to commit crimes against their teams like Nathan MacKinnon or Artemi Panarin all year round, but it's easy to do see why he should be talking.
If you're tired of hearing from emergency goalkeepers, well … too bad. This week Steve Dangle and I were thinking in the same direction. I don't know if you know that, but he was affected by the loss in a very visceral way. Steve asks:
"How much pressure did the Maple Leafs actually manage to practice David Ayres in this game? How bad did the hurricanes turn them off? "
To put it mildly, the Carolina Hurricanes eradicated the Toronto Maple Leafs attack.
This does not mean that Ayres was not confronted with his fair share of good quality recordings. Of the 11 he faced (the NHL only has 10 credits), six came from the slot, including two of his first three.
The problem wasn't really that the Leafs were content with poor quality footage, they just didn't shoot. If you set Ayres game to 60 minutes in all situations, see how the Leafs produced shots compared to the season average.
After Pierre Engvall lunged for a rebound from Tyson Barrie's point shot to score the Leafs' third goal, the Hurricanes did not allow the Leafs to get a single shot from the inside slot into the net from that point. Compared to the Leafs' normal pace of getting shots from the inner slot into the net, the hurricanes on the net front reduced them by over 70 percent.
Slot shots were less dramatic overall – just under 18 percent less than average – and completed slot passes only dropped about 10 percent, but attempts to shoot from the area fell by over 40 percent.
For some reason, the Maple Leafs worked hard on perfect, high quality recordings, and the hurricanes ate them alive to prevent them from occurring.
Flashback is always 20/20, but getting shots from anywhere on an untested non-NHL goalkeeper could have been the better strategy to create chaos and take advantage of a player who was unable to Chasing the puck through some jumps at NHL speed.
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• The Chicago Blackhawks have been the league's worst defensive team for at least two seasons in a row, and much of it lies with their top players. Of all the NHL players who played 500 or more minutes this season, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are the ones with the most slot passes on the ice. It is difficult for your goalkeepers to stop if they keep moving.
• The line that has been on the ice for most slit shots this season is the top line of the Winnipeg Jets. They are the only trio in the league to give up more than nine inside-slot shots every 5 minutes 5-on-5.
• However, the worst internal slot differential does not belong to any of the groups mentioned above. This shame falls on Luke Glendening, whose teammates from Detroit Red Wings see that only 31.7 percent of the internal slit shots go in their favor when he's on the ice.
• At the other end of the spectrum is a little hope for the Minnesota Wild, who have a line from Jordan Greenway with Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek that control 65 percent of all inner slot shots while on the ice
• This Wild line narrowly misses Phillip Danault's top line of Montreal Canadiens between Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar, which control 63.5 percent. Two unlikely trios of non-playoff teams that have been incredible this season.
• You should never look at sales in raw numbers. Defenders with the most sales this season: Thomas Chabot, Brent Burns, Roman Josi, Shea Theodore, Miro Heiskanen and Ben Chiarot. Defenders with the fewest: Roman Polak, Dennis Cholowski, Brent Seabrook, Trevor Daley, Yannick Weber and Markus Nutivaara. Who would you prefer in your group of six?