Auston Matthews has scored an absolute goal in 11 games with 11 goals in early December. It's an impressive feat, in fact he almost leads the league when it comes to goals per minute. However, this is not the case because someone else was the legendary scorer Anthony Duclair.
Wait a minute, didn't we all learn last season that he couldn't play hockey? Well, Duclair has already torn 21 pucks between these red pipes and into the mesh this season. He went right where he left after trading with the Ottawa Senators last season, where he scored eight goals in 21 games.
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It flew under the radar with frequent benchings and public consultations by John Tortorella last season, but Duclair didn't really struggle to score with Columbus last season either. He managed to score 11 goals in 53 games in a deep role; a 17 goal pace.
That's nothing compared to the pace of over 40 goals this season, but Duclair have previously scored 20 goals and averaged 16 goals per 82 games while in up and down formations and near Teams jumped up and down. He's not a player who came out of nowhere, but he's getting trust and big minutes for the first time in a long time.
The question I have is how likely it is that Duclair can continue to gain a foothold in the NHL and score at a fast pace. Is he an artifact from Ottawa who needs someone to score goals? Or is he a talented player who finally gets the opportunity he deserves at the age of 24? Let's look at how much has changed since last season to justify doubling his target pace.
If we take a closer look at Duclair's shooting, we can see that he was slightly above average last season with 5 vs 5, more shots from close to the net than most players and very effective out of haste attack.
He's increased his overall shot volume this season, but increasing his net shots from the slot is much more significant than his overall increase in attempts from there, which you can consider Duclair, who is more accurate with his shot, or he got lucky this season to get his attempts online.
Strangely, Duclair produces less fast and also less fast this season, although he is still traveling above average, which he seems to compensate for by only approaching the network as a whole. and shoot more often.
He was also one of the best players in the league this year when it came to creating screens for himself. What does it all mean? For me, these are signs that a player has less help from his team to kick off than he did in a superior offensive team in Columbus last season. That is why he is working harder and harder to take advantage of these opportunities.
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More ice age and harder work were a good combination to create this situation for Duclair, but we also have to recognize that the improvements Duclair has made are probably not enough to get him into at least an area with 40 goals Do not bring as an expectation for the future.
However, what we can say is that Duclair is undoubtedly good enough to be a scorer at this level, and he's not one-dimensional either. Only Brady Tkachuk has a better inside shot differential with Senators than Duclair's 58.3 percent this year, so he's driving the game in the right direction.
Maybe Duclair had only really figured out how to play this season, but I doubt it.
This week, when Steve Dangle asked me his question, the immediate thought that came to my mind was "Thank you!". I had been looking for a reason to write about this player for a while, but I didn't have time to incorporate it. So what did Steve ask?
"So … Bryan Rust … what? How? Who is this guy at once? "
Right? Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Rust as a player. He has been playing in the middle of the penguins for five seasons in a team where these types of players are constantly being delivered to save space, the salary cap and adjust their list on the fly and remain competitive.
Something about Rust convinced the penguins to put him above others, and although this was partly due to the affordability of his contract, he's in the first year of a relatively rich $ 3.5 million AAV contract that three years this is no longer the case
So far, Rust has more than rewarded the penguins' willingness to invest in him with a ridiculous 32 points in 25 games, six points that lagged behind his career high in 44 games. But how likely is it that Rust can break out of a 15-goal, 30-35-point utility player who has spent a significant amount of time with Superstar centers in his career and keeps something close to that level of performance? Let's look at how much its performance has changed from year to year.
Rust has been an above-average offensive contributor to the team in the past three seasons, but you can see that some things have changed for him.
Contrary to what normally happens when a player experiences a hot shooting streak, Rust shoots further away this season than in the previous two seasons.
His chances of scoring both in a hurry and outside the racing cycle have increased. This is probably due to the fact that he spent most of his ice age this season with Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel, but his slot passes have expired.
What's going on here? Rust's overall performance is definitely better than before through a number of measures, but it looks like the biggest change is that Rust's role in this line is very well defined. He should go to a certain area of the ice, join the rush with an excellent transition player like Malkin, and take part in the cycle by staying in the slot. which means that it will probably not get into the slot as often.
This well-defined role has added to Rust's strengths and created the best production line of his career, but at the same time, the underlying numbers don't show us a player who shoots out the light and creates a crazy number of opportunities that point to one point per player ,
Rust is a good player, but this is a hell of a phase that cannot be expected to continue.
• In the last month of games, Malkin leads the league in scoring opportunities scored 12.4 per 20-minute 5v5 game. It seems every time Sidney Crosby gets hurt; Malkin finds another level.
• Right behind Malkin is a name that not many would expect: Columbus & # 39; Pierre-Luc Dubois. Dubois has really developed into a special player in recent years, but is still a relatively unknown player in terms of star players in the league. Dubois' 28 points in 41 games don't jump as a star player, but the process behind the numbers is elitist. How Dubois would react if Columbus Artemi lost Panarin, and the underlying data shows that he's driving things in the right direction.
• I don't think any team wants to play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of playoffs. The subway is narrow, but the hurricanes lead the league in both internal slots and 5-by-5 slots per minute. They are an incredibly dangerous team.
• There are many reasons why the San Jose Sharks were so disappointed this season, but one of the main reasons was their poor play in the neutral zone. No team turns the puck in the middle of the ice more often, which is a recipe for a disaster on the defensive side, especially if your goalkeeper is suspicious.