PHT Face-Off: Frk’s heavy shot; Rough year for Johansen
At the start of each week, the PHT Face-Off breaks down some of the topics and trends around the NHL. This week’s topics include: A crazy slapshot, four forwards on the power play, and much more.
Here it is:
• What a Frkn shot
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber won the Hardest Shot Event at the NHL Skills Competition on Friday night. Weber actually fired the two hardest shots of the night, with the fastest one coming in at 106.5 mph. That’s impressive. But we can’t ignore what Martin Frk did at the AHL All-Star Skills Competition over the weekend, either.
Frk set a new record by blasting a puck into a net at 109.2 mph. The 26-year-old forward has played four games with the Los Angeles Kings this year and he’s found the back of the net three times. Maybe it’s time for the Kings to give him another look? He’s also put up 20 goals and 30 points in 33 games with AHL Ontario this year.
The record previously belonged to Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, who registered a 108.8 mph shot on the radar gun in 2012. Hockey players seem to be getting bigger, faster and stronger every year, so we’ll see how long Frk’s record holds up. Are we really going to see a human being shoot at over 110 mph in the near future?
• Four forwards on the power play becoming a trend
Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen the number of four-forward power plays increase significantly. Obviously, teams that have more high-end skill up front will use four forwards more frequently. As you can tell from the tweet below, the Capitals and Avalanche use four forwards on the man-advantage 95 percent of the time.
For what it’s worth, the Caps have the 14th ranked power play in the NHL at 20.3 percent. The Avs have the 21st ranked power play in the league at 18.6 percent. Those are two really talented teams, so how much of their power play “struggles” are based on personnel and how much is on the scheme? It’s hard to say.
But it’s interesting to see just how much of a copy-cat league the NHL is today:
The trend continues: so far this season the frequency of a 4-forward, 1-defenseman power play is exactly in line with last season: 72.6%. WSH and COL use it most frequently (95%), and MIN uses it least frequently (2%!). (I'll post my code on Github shortly, if anyone's curious.) pic.twitter.com/fRigw9rdPl— Meghan Hall (@MeghanMHall) January 26, 2020
• Alex Killorn’s killer season
When the Tampa Bay Lightning were looking to off-load some salary during the summer, it was reported that general manager Julien BriseBois was unwilling to part ways with Killorn. That was interesting news considering the fact that he’s not really part of the core. He’s an important part of the team, but he’s not Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman or Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Killorn is making $4.45 million per season through 2022-23. It would’ve been easy to ship the veteran forward elsewhere. Instead, they decided to hold on to him. How has it worked out?
Pretty well, so far.
The 30-year-old hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career right before the All-Star break. He’s now on pace to find the back of the net 35 times and he’s flirting with a 70-point season right now. Whether they want to continue holding on to him or not, there’s no doubt that his trade value has increased.
Interestingly enough, Killorn’s advanced numbers are down from previous seasons, but he’s been more productive than ever. His CF%, his XGF% and his FF% are all down from the last few seasons.
• Tough year for Ryan Johansen
Johansen is the Nashville Predators’ highest paid forward at $8 million per year (tied with Matt Duchene), but he’s certainly not producing up to expectations.
Over his last 12 games, the 27-year-old has just two points in his last 12 outings. That’s nowhere close to being good enough. Prior to the start of this season, Johansen 60-plus points in two of his last three campaigns. This year, he has just 10 goals and 27 points in 47 games.
“When Ryan’s playing his best, he’s moving his feet and playing with speed,” Predators coach John Hynes said, per The Athletic. “I’ve seen pockets of it here, where he’s had the puck coming up the middle of the ice and through the neutral zone with speed and then making good decisions. He should be a very competitive player on the puck with his size and his skill to be able to be a hard player to play against offensively.”
Hynes mentions that he’s seen his centerman play well in spurts, but the Predators need him to be way more consistent. If the playoffs started today, they’d be on the outside looking in. That’s a problem. They’re currently six points behind Vegas for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They’re seven points back of Dallas in the chase for the third seed in the Central Division.
They need him to step up.
What’s coming up this week?
• Matt Tkachuk vs. Zack Kassian, Wed. Jan. 29, 10 p.m. ET and Sat. Feb. 1, 8 p.m. ET.
• Battle of Pennsylvania resumes as Penguins host Flyers, Fri. Jan. 31, 7 p.m. ET.
NHL on NBC
• Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby for the 50th time, Sun. Feb. 2, 12:30 p.m.
NHL on NBCSN
• Lightning vs. Stars, Mon. Jan. 27, 8 p.m. ET
• Lightning vs. Kings, Wed. Jan. 29, 10 p.m. ET
• John Hynes returns to New Jersey as Predators visit Devils, Thu. Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday Night Hockey
• Predators vs. Capitals, Wed. Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET