This initially began as a look at five players, but when researching many more deserved some commentary for their season so far – and as an outlook for the second half.
Teams have just charged over the 30 game mark and heading into the Christmas break will soon hit the halfway mark of the season as the calendar turns to 2019. Some players have really excelled, others could use some Santa Claus magic to help kickstart a woeful season.
I won’t waste time with a lengthy preamble but before we get right to it, we should acknowledge that the data was courtesy of Corsica Hockey with a cut off of games as of December 17, 2018. Tuesday’s games aren’t included here.
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There’s nothing specifically driving the listing of players here, it’s a random list of players that caught my eye. I’ve focused most on 5v5 play, but will include some 5v4 production as well.
Elias Lindholm has exploded offensively, and halfway through to the 26 points at 5v5 last season, only two shy of a career high 28. Unlike last season, he’s only received a point on 46% of goals while on the ice. A career average of 66.7 is well above current contributions, however, the individual and on-ice shooting percentages are awfully high. At 5v4, he’s earned career high in points, and one goal and assist shy of tying his personal bests. He’s doubled his expected goals (ixGF) at 5v4 and outperformed it at 5v5.
Only five goals away from career high 16, Kyle Palmieri has been firing lasers with 11 markers so far at 5v5. But that individual shooting percentage and doubling his expected goals is a concern. Health permitting, the former Ducks draft pick can eclipse the 30 point career high from his first season in New Jersey.
Can super sophomore Matt Barzal do it all? He might have to. Heading into Tuesday night, the Islanders phenom had earned a point on 93% of goals scored with him on the ice at 5v5. He’s being matched at 5v5 by teammate Valteri Filppula, with a point on 87.5% of goals scored. Barzal’s individual and on-ice shooting percentages show there’s a chance for better results – which could improve if there’s more contributions from teammates.
Teammate Josh Bailey is a contrast in shooting percentages at 5v5, firing the double digits personally and while on the ice, but scoring only four goals well off career pace of late.
Both Pierre-Luc Dubois and Ryan Dzingel have 10 goals at 5v5 on the season. Dzingel scored career high of 17 last season and could eclipse that as long as he keeps firing more shots – on pace for career high 146 shots at even strength. His percentages aren’t in his favour if he shooting pace softens. Firing 16.95% certainly seems unsustainable, yet he fired 15.89% last season.
Dubois is already only one goal shy of a career high in 5v5 goals. The other difference this season is six of eight assists as primary (last season, it was a 7-10 split). He’s clearly producing more and contributing more to primary scoring chances. He shares the similar high percentages individually and while on the ice as Dzingel, even matching points with a difference being at the on-ice shooting percentage at 5v4.
Let’s give Dubois teammate, Josh Anderson some love for the season he is putting up. With 10 goals and likely to set new career high, besting the 16 from 2016-17. He was firing 13.7% to achieve that, and with 12.2% so far this season, there’s a parallel here. He also earned 11 assists that season and a point on 67.5% of goals scored while on the ice.
Two players that I’d have expected more out of this season have been greatly disappointing. The Blues Vladimir Tarasenko has four even strength goals this season after averaging 23 over the last four seasons. With a point on 62.5% of on-ice goals scored, he’s mirroring the 68.3% range from last season, down from the high 70s & low 80s in career (lockout season excluded). Getting beyond the 5.13% individual percentage – and an end to the dismal situation in St. Louis are the only things that can boost that goal scoring production. A trade could do wonders here.
A dismal start to the season, for Nino Niederreiter who fired 10 goals in 2017-18, down from the career high of 16 matched in the previous two seasons. He’s got five this season – and struggled with earning points on goals scored while on the ice. Even the five goals are only a slight better than expected (3.52), and that required an inflated 10.2% shooting percentage. He’s capable of sustaining that shooting rate as exhibited in the past. This might be the pace for the Swiss import to expect moving forward.
The Los Angeles Kings scoring woes are well documented, and it’s really hit the tall and lanky Slovenian. Averaging a point on 74% of all 5v5 goals scored in his career – all with the Kings – this season he’s earned points on 56.5% and only six goals – despite being on pace for 140 shots on goal, which would be the most in the last four seasons.
Happy Holidays to everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read through my write-ups here and on my twitter feed.