Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hockeyviz/SB Nation Wraparound - January 17th

Hi friends, happy Tuesday, and happy bye week to all of my fellow Flyers fans. The orange and black have hit a month-long rough patch and they're going to be out of the playoff picture by the time they play their next game. Let's try to forget they exist for a while and focus on what else is happening around the league.

Given how gloomy it is right now in Philadelphia (both because of the Flyers and because of the weather), we're going to try to make this entire wraparound focus on positive, happy things that are happening in the NHL.

There is a very obvious place for us to start.

Penguins 8, Capitals 7 (OT)

Penguins vs. Capitals might go down as the best NHL game of the season by Pat Iversen (link)
The Capitals took a 3-0 lead. Pittsburgh erased it with six unanswered goals, part of a nine-goal (!!) second period. Washington scored twice in the third to tie it. And Pittsburgh won in OT. Final score: 8-7. Fifteen goals between two of the NHL’s best rivals.
“That second period was one of the craziest periods I’ve been associated with,” [Pittsburgh coach Mike] Sullivan said. “I don’t even know how to assess it.”
Obviously, a game that featured fifteen total goals was either a laughable blowout, an evenly-matched display of offense, or a really poor showing by two goalies. Considering the game went to overtime and was decided by one goal, it's tough to call it a blowout. But as for the good offense/bad goaltender discussion, I would say it was more of the latter than the former.

Per Corsica, nearly 48 of the 61 minutes were played at even strength. The Capitals had four power play opportunities, and the Penguins had just one. Here are the shot charts for both teams:


That Eller goal was actually shorthanded, not on the power play. The Caps' vaunted power play finished the night 1/4, and they allowed the Penguins to score on their lone chance with the man advantage. Considering the personnel on both sides, neither of those numbers is outrageous.

What is outrageous is the horrible goaltending from Pittsburgh's Matt Murray (21 saves on 28 shots) and Washington's Braden Holtby (21 saves on 26 shots) and Philipp Grubauer (8 saves on 11 shots). Sure, there was a ton of offensive talent on the ice. But for the reigning Vezina- and Stanley Cup-winning goalies to combine for a 0.7778 save percentage is almost unbelievable.

It was, almost unquestionably, the most fun NHL game of the year so far. I think you'd be hard-pressed to beat it, and it might have to be a night where two backup goalies stand on their heads and play their teams to a 0-0 tie through regulation with 50-save shutouts on both sides. Then Dion Phaneuf will score in like the 14th round of the shootout with a slapshot from fifteen feet away.

Edmonton Oilers (Copper & Blue)

Oilers 3 - Coyotes 1 — The Rise of Jujhar by Minnia Feng (link)
His name is Jujhar. The boy also known as J.J. was born on August 13, 1994 in the town of Surrey, BC, becoming the third player of Punjabi descent to play in the NHL. Tonight, Jujhar "J.J." Khaira became known for more than having the lushest beard on the Oilers, scoring his first NHL goal in his 17th NHL game for the eventual game-winner in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Monday night.
There have been a number of notable First NHL Goals this season. Auston Matthews scored in his first game in the league, and then followed it up immediately with three more in the same game. He still leads the rookie scoring race, but there is no shortage of first-year players who have been major contributors to their teams:

This section is not about any of those big-named rookies, though. It's about the Oilers' third-round pick in 2012, a big Canadian kid who Eliteprospects described as:
A power forward with a powerful stride, Khaira is tough to separate from the puck. He has the ability to find teammates and turn any play in to a scoring chance. Khaira plays with a mental and physical maturity that is beyond his years.
That's not an uncommon scouting report for a hockey prospect, but Khaira is just the third player of Punjabi descent in the 100+ year history of the NHL. He got a cup of coffee last season, and played his second game of this season last night. He jumped on his opportunity, and kicked off his career with his first goal.
He was paired with Zack Kassian and Mark Letestu - bottom-six players, to be sure - but they took a heavy defensive load, shut down the Coyotes they were matched with, and generated quite a bit of excitement in the offensive zone.

It is great to see how much press Khaira is receiving after his big night, and it's hard not to swoon when you see quotes like this:

Sharks 4, Jets 2

An empty net attempt backfired completely for this Sharks netminder by Mary Clarke (link)

Nobody gives a shit about either of these teams until the Sharks have to play someone from the Central in the Western Conference Finals, but this video from last night's game is too good to ignore.
Martin Jones now knows the true meaning of hubris. With the Sharks taking a comfortable 4-1 lead into the final minute against the Jets, Jones attempted to fire the puck down the ice on a Winnipeg empty net. Instead, Mark Scheifele scored. On San Jose’s empty net.

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