We're almost through the regular NHL 2019-20 season, which means that in most cases we're dealing with significant sample sizes when rating players, but even with a lot of information to draw from there are still some constant narratives that couldn't be true.
That said, it's time for another issue of Fact or Fiction, in which we look at three different cases in the league and find out the truth.
Playing fewer games this season while division with Juuse Saros begins should result in a more rested and effective Pekka gutter, but so far he has achieved the worst percentage of his career and has been far surpassed by his compatriot Saros. Is this the end of the way for Rinne as the goalkeeper?
At 37, Rinne has already resisted doubters (including me) with his incredible resurgence, which started in 2016-17 and led to a victory in the Vezina Trophy the following year. This is unlikely to happen again, but the most important thing to remember is that Rinne has already given the Predators more value than was expected in the past three seasons until mid-30s.
The waste looks drastic on the surface, but what does it look like in detail?
Looking at 5v5, Rinne is definitely dropping this season, with the high slot being the most linearly declining area in the past three seasons, but it's still above the league average of that area by a hair, and it's well above the league average of the inner slot despite a big drop from last season.
In fact, Rinne does not look finished at all with the same strength, he was a far above-average goalkeeper in the game state that has the most predictive value, while being forgotten while the Predators are understaffed.
Rinne's 55.6 percent savings from the inner slot while a man is down is the worst brand in the league, and his 78.4 percent savings from the high slot isn't great either, but these results for one Goalkeeper with fewer than 40 starts and less than 200 minutes shorthanded are not something I would bet on.
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At the age of 37, it is reasonable to believe that Rinne will decrease further and quickly, but that the murder of his saving percentage as a shorthand was the result of a combined 73 shots from the inner and high slot is simply not a lot .
Rinne is certainly in decline, but is it finished? I say this is fiction.
For the New Jersey Devils, everything went wrong this year. Internally, it sure looks like they assumed they were much better, and many external reviewers thought they were too, but almost every new entry disappointed.
P.K. Subban is probably the biggest disappointment, but the breath of fresh air that Jack Hughes should bring to the organization has not yet arrived, and the question is whether it was either added to the league too early or not as good as what predicted first has been.
It is not a complete view of a player, but looking at a team's performance while a player is on the ice compared to when they are not gives us a rough idea of whether they are belongs to this level or not. What does Hughes look like?
The season has been disappointing from an offensive perspective, and I fully understand why some might not be able to overlook the way the Devils went in 2019-20, but the underlying numbers for Hughes as an 18-year-old rookie are surprisingly good.
His impact on the shot-based metrics was modest, pushing the team a little above average out of the inner slot and attempted shots overall, while underperforming in actual shots on goal, but it is the pass that has a huge impact
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The Devils had major problems controlling slot passes this season, especially on the defensive, but Hughes was a great positive force offensive and defensive, especially in the former.
It's rare for a teenager to have a big impact on the NHL level anyway, but Hughes' total score doesn't tell the real story. The only devil with 5 vs 5 chances in 20 minutes than Hughes is Nico Hischier.
Am I worried about this Jack Hughes rookie season? Not at all. The overall score is disappointing, but the idea that he is a bust is pure fiction.
Across the state border, the New York Rangers were the exact opposite of the Devils. In the off-season they bought an additional marquee in their squad in Artemi Panarin through an unrestricted free agency and showed a well-respected young perspective in Kaapo Kakko. Still, no one really gave the Rangers the time of day, but they're not far from a playoff spot, and it's still a month in the season. Her big new addition was the Hart Trophy caliber.
And yet, despite all this positive news, the same questions that Hughes is asked are put in the way of Kaapo Kakko. So how is he doing in his rookie year?
Unlike Hughes, Kakko doesn't look that rosy by the underlying numbers, but the good news is that he was worse in the first half of the season, so there were significant improvements.
Unfortunately, the areas where Kakko had the greatest negative impact on his team are in the shot quality areas. The Rangers control over 10 percent less of the blows and passes in the inside slot while Kakko is on the ice
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Kakko has slowly started to put more insult on the table, but to this day his contributions are roughly comparable to a strong third liner with the same strength.
I don't think it is ever a good idea to write off a player who can make it into the NHL as a teenager, since most of them have difficulty being effective players even in protected roles. We can sometimes forget that it is very difficult to succeed in this league and once the season starts it is very difficult to find your feet if you get out of balance.
Kakko improves over time, but is this start to his career a little worrying and a big disappointment? That's a fact.