Wednesday, August 8, 2018

SSS Part VII - March 1 vs NSH

- March 1 vs NSH -

Leon’s line in the material reviewed so far has split in all three ways by now, and now each former player centres their own line. A lot of the net negative goalshare away from McDavid on the year was dug around this time – Draisaitl was 7-12 in goals away from McDavid from this point on, that minus five is half of our total problem – so we should have a lot to go through, and this game in particular is packed.

There's a curious circumstance that extends beyond our regular parameters here: When Draisaitl was on the ice this game, in  5v5 play, he went 0-3 in goals. Two of these goals against came in just a minute and thirty-seven seconds that he shared with McDavid. Now, the rules are the rules on this commission, but if I’m already here…


Did I mention this was Ethan Bear’s first NHL game? This was Ethan Bear’s first NHL game.

There was 17 seconds left in the period, and Todd lined up Draisaitl with McDavid to go for the throat.

On July 27th, in’s comment section during a discussion about defencemen's influence I wrote the following:

(I’ll open as well as end with the fact that I like Ethan Bear)

"I think defensemen seem very, very thresholdy.

The most potent, poisonous action you can take to a group of 4 NHL players is complete the quintet with a non-NHL defenseman.

The frequency and danger of the chances given up is unreal and has no remedy. If the ‘NHL’ hoop isn’t jumped through in the adage “NHL defencemen don’t affect on-ice save percentage” then the floor becomes false and everything sets on fire.

Take Ethan Bear last year. When Bear was on the ice every forward trio placed against him had the results of an uber-first line. Connor McDavid had the highest rate of NaturalStatTrick’s claimed high danger chances for, his rate rounds up to 16 per hour from not far away.

When Bear was on the ice, his unit gave up 20 and a half. Three and a half actual goals. Pushing a goal against every 15 minutes.

(I like Ethan Bear as a prospect, just using him as an example)"

This one's at least got a dash of nuance, Leon misses the puck twice here with the second being worse than the first. It
's a very, very good pass.

The pairings I circled is just one way to play it. This is a situation where you'd need a bit of communication. Either way, if that guy wants to shoot it, Bear jumping in front of Talbot isn't going to stop him. The back door was something he could have effectively watched, though.

The other goal is the most noxious minus-one a player can get. The clock strikes yikes o'clock before he gets off the bench. It follows with no comment:

With the goals out of the way, there's still a lot here.

At another aside, I could talk about the discussion point that pops up from time to time about Zack Kassian finding moments on a skill line. There are proponents of both directions, here's how I look at it: We know Kassian can succeed on a successful fourth line, full time. We don't know if he can succeed on a successful top nine line, but we have more evidence that he can't than we do of most of his competitors for those same minutes.

The puck hits the ref here, Drai reacts well off the scramble and a bit later but get backtracked; Matt Benning makes a great play pushing the puck out along the wall and the Oilers end up with a dump-in scenario where they've got both sides closed on.

Drai runs it down to the end boards and covers the reversal, and Kassian just kind of fly-by turns opposite away from Subban and then gives him the first pass. Then his controller disconnects right as he closes on the carrier who weaves back to centre to get the dump in on the same side as his forecheckers.

Klefbom gets in front during the chase and they run the puck back out far side.

There's a good example of the mandate to be more aggressive on the man, here, where you've got nobody initially and intrinsically assigned to stand in front of the net. Oscar gets sneaked around here, and Johansen the trailer is extremely hard to pick up, the chance is pretty much guaranteed by the circumstance. After Kassian loses the puck on the wall again, Cammaleri isn't wise to the pick play and cedes the body position necessary to make it happen. It's a cheeky play.

Drai attacks with his skates and his stick here, recovers the puck and puts a pass straight through whereas Cammaleri was expected the boards play. He later gets just enough of a centring pass to bobble it towards the post, to close out a particularly cursed shift.

This one's got something to it. Zack Kassian flashes some quick hands to get a tricky shot off that the goaltender can't easily handle, but the bounce ends up all right and the Preds end up with an entry 3 on 3 where Kris Russell ends up backing all the way up despite having the manpower and communication to step in, as Nurse has the centre lane and Cammaleri signals for KR to contest.

Russell has Johansen so Kassian needs to take Ellis but he doesn't. There's acres of ice here, and it could have gone miles worse but Ellis kind of misses the puck on his first go round then gets his royal road pass read by a diving Cammaleri.

Aberg forces a turnover here and Drai's there for it, then Pontus makes the retrieval difficult on the two Preds and there's a bit of a bounce-fest before good fortune sends the puck on its way. Nurse gets to the shoot in, and Leon counts heads before having a go at creating a free two on one. It doesn't work, but you make this pass every single time. The turn around is still four-on-four, though no one quite gets a stick on what should be a very contestable shot. Cammaleri makes a great move in a dangerous situation and they're off.

Nurse fires the puck down the ice here and Aberg hustles to the inside and gets it. Ellis takes him down entire illegally in breath range of the referee but those calls come and go.

(He also shoots right back to cover on the play along the wall, too, and I'm just generally impressed every time I'm viewing these games with Pontus performing various roles admirably)

Talbot plays the puck here, the Preds wrangle it and we again see another example of the Oilers being aggressive towards the man over patrolling the netfront zone. Nurse darts at the carrier and Drai recognises, following suit on the dangerous pass option and ends up tapping the puck away and picking up his feet to a 50/50 puck and getting it all away.

Aberg gets a hack at a puck here and Cammaleri shoots it back in, don't ignore those plays they're important too.

Klefbom and Pontus make a good play after on an intercept and subsequent competition, disarming the "sortie" by getting it safely to Draisaitl who of course makes the no-look backhand pass off the wall to the tape of the F2.

Leon and fleet wingers looks damn good, I'm thinking precisely one giant and one extra German for next year's version.

Just one more transitional play and then we're done:

Draisaitl's a little aimless in this play, but the key I wanted to show here is the difference from how the transitional game looked from his starting winger-set to the ones he's got here. Leon can look bad if no one can get him the puck, but he makes it real easy on you if you do get him the puck, anytime and anywhere.

That's a wrap for this game, we got the gross stuff out of the way early. These March games really do have a lot in them for our purposes. We haven't found, in my opinion, a ton of liability in Leon's game so far, but as we know that pairing with Strome offered its own kind of shelter. Those 10 missing goals are in here, and unless I'm especially gifted at excuse-making for hockey players I'm a fan of then we should have our answer by the end of this. Thank you again for following along.

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