Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:15 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Midway through the second period of Tuesday's game between Detroit and Philadelphia, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was on the receiving end of this crushing hit from Niklas Kronwall, one of the biggest hitters in the NHL (his resume is all over the Internet).
It's pretty clear right away that Voracek was in some trouble, and that's Flyers analyst -- and former Flyers player -- Bill Clement asking where the freakin' whistle was as Voracek was on the ice trying to figure out what just happened to him.
There was no penalty called on the play, but it's pretty obvious that the head is the principal point of contact, which means it's definitely going to get a look from the NHL, especially since Voracek appeared to be injured as a result of the hit.
Voracek scored his 12th goal of the season earlier in the game.
Given the issues the Flyers have had this season with concussions (Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Brayden Schenn, James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Matt Read have all missed games due to one this year) there has to be some concern in Philadelphia after watching that hit.
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Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:39 am
Welcome to Award Races. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.
We began our Award Races last week by looking at -- in my opinion -- the two most prestigious in the Hart Trophy and the Vezina. One of those races (Vezina) has a clear front-runner then a tight fight for runner-up. The other (Hart) is very tight and will be a battle to the end.
That seems to be what we're talking about this week too, only with the Norris Trophy and Calder. Let's start with the Norris.
At this point, Erik Karlsson seems like a shoe-in for the award. He has taken the points lead and laughed at the rest of the league's defensemen, doing circles around them. He's 23 points ahead of the second highest-scoring defenseman, Brian Campbell. Seriously, he's tied with Henrik Sedin and Joffrey Lupul for sixth in points among all skaters.
Part of the equation that goes into the Norris obviously is how good you are on defense too, it can't be all about offense. But maybe this time it can be, when a guy is just that much more dominant in that regard than the rest of the field. And it's not like Karlsson is completely defenseless. He might not be as good in his own zone as some of the others on this list, but he's responsible enough to garner more than 25 minutes a game in ice time.
So that one is pretty clear. The Calder going to the top rookie? Now this is a race.
At the midpoint of the season it seemed like it was in the bag for last year's No. 1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the award. Well he's still in the conversation, but he's been joined by others ... and overtaken.
The comments on the second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog's scouting report were promising for instant production. He was seen by most everybody as the most NHL-read prospect in the draft. He has good size already and is a mature player. So his ceiling wasn't believed to be incredibly high, the production was thought to be very good and consistent.
It might have taken him a little while, but now he's showing all of that. Check this out: With the Avalanche making a move to get back into the heart of the playoff race, Landeskog has been great of late. In the last five games he has four goals and four assists while averaging close to 20 minutes a night. Not bad for your first playoff race.
But he has some stiff competition that isn't far behind him at all.
Remember, this is just one man's opinion and there are sure to be disagreements. Feel free to share your thoughts (I know you won't disappoint there).
And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.
Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella
Top GM: Dale Tallon, Don Maloney, David Poile
Tags: Adam Henrique, Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Calder Trophy Tracker, Cody Hodgson, Colorado Avalanche, Erik Karlsson, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Read, NHL Award Races, NHL Award Tracker, NHL Awards, Nicklas Lidstrom, Norris Trophy Tracker, Ottawa Senators, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.
The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.
And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.
The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.
These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.
Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.
The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.
We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.
And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.
Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.
Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.
Tags: Adam Henrique, Boston Bruins, Brian Elliott, Brian Stubits, Claude Giroux, Dale Tallon, Detroit Red Wings, Don Maloney, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Glen Sather, Hart Trophy, Henrik Lundqvist, Jaroslav Halak, Jason Spezza, Jimmy Howard, John Tortorella, Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Toews, Ken Hitchcock, Los Angeles Kings, Matt Read, New York Rangers, NHL Award Races, NHL Award Tracker, NHL Awards, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ottawa Senators, Patrice Bergeron, Paul MacLean, Pavel Datsyuk, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Radim Vrbata, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shea Weber, St. Louis Blues, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Vezina Trophy
Posted on: January 18, 2012 4:11 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 4:43 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at which top rookies are playing some of the toughest (and easiest) assignments in the NHL.
Most NHL teams are going to put their rookies into favorable situations on the ice.
They are usually not going to be asked to play the toughest minutes on their team, against the best opponents and in defensive situations, and instead are going to be put into low pressure situations where they have the best opportunity to succeed. There are, of course, always exceptions, and some youngsters are asked to take on larger (and more important) roles, whether it be out of necessity, or because the player has shown that he's capable of taking on such an assignment at a young age.
This year's rookie class has had some pretty impressive performances so far, including that of top overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (currently the NHL's leading rookie scorer) in Edmonton, Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson with the Devils and, of course, Philadelphia's young forwards Sean Couturier (pictured) and Matt Read, who have not only flashed some offensive ability, but have also proven themselves to be more than capabale penalty killers.
But which of the NHL's top rookies are being asked to play the toughest minutes this season?
Well, that's what the scatterplot picture below helps us figure out. We're using Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (the level of competition the player is playing against -- the higher the number, the tougher the opponent, and vice versa) and Offensive Zone starts (both via Behind The Net) during 5-on-5 play to determine which rookies are being asked to play in the toughest situations by their respective teams.
The closer a player is to the top left of the chart, the harder the assignments he's being given (playing against better players and starting fewer shifts in the offensive zone), while the closer a player is to the bottom right, the easier the assignment (playing against weaker competition and starting more shifts in the offensive zone).
The players included: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Oilers), Adam Henrique (Devils), Nick Johnson (Wild), Luke Adam (Sabres), Cody Hodgson (Canucks), Jared Cowen (Senators), Adam Larsson (Devils), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche), Sean Couturier (Flyers), Matt Read (Flyers), Ryan Johansen (Blue Jackets), Raphael Diaz (Canadiens), Craig Smith (Predators), Colin Greening (Senators) and Kaspars Daugavins (Senators).
A few thoughts:
1) When it comes to the NHL's rookie of the year debate the two most common names are, naturally, Nugent-Hopkins and Henrique. They are, after all, the top two scoring rookies in the league, and before Nugent-Hopkins went out with his injury they were neck-and-neck in that scoring race. Now that Henrique is running unopposed for the foreseeable future, he's going to take over that scoring lead (barring an injury of his own, of course) and will probably become the front-runner for the award by seasons end.
Both players have arguments working in their favor.
When we did our mid-season award picks I went with Henrique based on the fact he and Nugent-Hopkins were nearly identical offensively, while Henrique was being asked to play in tougher situations (as the chart above illustrates). Along with that, he is also one of the top penalty killing forwards on the best penalty killing team in the league, and has proven himself to be a threat offensively even when his team is down shorthanded, currently tied for the league in shorthanded points. Conversely, Nugent-Hopkins is getting some of the easiest minutes in the league among the top rookies, and has played just a total of one minute and 16 seconds of shorthanded ice time this season.
That said, it can't be ignored that Henrique is already 21 years old while Nugent-Hopkins is one of the youngest players in the league at the age of 18. Actually, he's the second-youngest player to have skated in an NHL game this season, having been born just six days after Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad, who appeared in nine games for the Senators.
He may not be asked to play in tough situations, but his performance is still darn impressive given his age.
2) Don't overlook the rookie duo in Philadelphia. The Flyers completely re-tooled their roster over the summer, and halfway through the 2011-12 season they haven't missed a beat as far as being a contender in the Eastern Conference is concerned.
Losing Mike Richards and Jeff Carter looked like it was going to be a major blow to their forward depth, and while they are definitely a different team from a year ago, they're still boasting an impressive group of forwards, including their two prized rookies Couturier (selected with the draft pick that came from Columbus in exchange for Carter) and Read. Both are among the Flyers' top penalty killing forwards, and among Flyers forwards that have played at least 20 games this season Read is currently facing the fourth-toughest competition on the team.
3) Mike Yeo, head coach of the Minnesota Wild, appears to have a lot of faith in Nick Johnson, a player the team picked up on waivers before the season. Not only is he playing, by far, the toughest minutes of any of the top rookies in the NHL (he's currently 11th among rookie scorers) his Qual Comp is the highest of any forward on the Wild roster. Perhaps that faith shouldn't be much of a surprise given the connections both have to the Pittsburgh organization (Johnson was drafted by the Penguins, while Yeo was a former assistant).
Of course, age once again needs to be taken into account. While Johnson is playing tougher minutes than all of these other rookies, he's also by far the oldest player on the chart having already turned 26 back in December. A 26-year-old rookie and an 18-year-old rookie aren't exactly the same thing.
Taking into account performance, assignments and age I'd still choose Henrique as the top rookie in the NHL this season (so far), with Nugent-Hopkins, Read and Craig Smith coming in just behind.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Tags: Adam Gretz, Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, Buffalo Sabres, Cody Hodgson, Colin Greening, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Craig Smith, Edmonton Oilers, Gabriel Landeskog, Jared Cowen, Jeff Carter, Luke Adam, Matt Read, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Richards, Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, Nick Johnson, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pucks And Numbers, Raphael Diaz, Ryan Johansen, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Vancouver Canucks
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 1:07 pm
Already without their captain Chris Pronger because of a concussion, the Flyers are going to sans not only their top scorer, but the NHL's leader in points, Claude Giroux, indefinitely with a concussion.
Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren made the announcement on Tuesday.
"Claude reported not feeling very good today," Holmgren said in a statement. "Over the past few days, his symptoms have gradually gotten worse. He will be out indefinitely with a concussion.
This was the fear after the Flyers' win over the Lightning this weekend. It was in that game that Giroux was hit in the back of his head by teammate Wayne Simmonds' knee in a flukey accident. Simmonds did his best to avoid Giroux, who fell to the ice on a checking attempt, but his knee smacked Giroux square in the back of the head when he tried to leap his teammate.
The Flyers have been able to hang tough through all of the injury issues they've been dealt, but this one will test them like no other. Giroux is atop everybody's list of early season Hart candidates, posting 39 points in just 29 games for Philadelphia this season, helping the Flyers to the top of the Eastern Conference. The next closest player in the scoring department for the Flyers is Scott Hartnell with 26 points.
"When he goes out we look for the veteran players like Danny [Briere] to step in," coach Peter Laviolette said, "and we also look at the young players like Matt Read or Sean Couturier to pick up the slack."
"Obviously he's a guy you can't replace," James van Riemsdyk added. "It's going to take a lot of people to step it up and fill the role that he plays. He does everything for us: penalty kill, power play, scores big goals, makes big hits, blocks shots, does it all. So we're going to have to kind of step up our game here. Just let him rest and not have to rush him back."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 10:29 pm
Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino was suspended one game for his elbow to the head of the Flyers' Matt Read on Wednesday night in Buffalo. Brendan Shanahan made the announcement, the third suspension of the day (Kevin Porter for four games and Andy Sutton indefinitely).
We'll let Shanahan take it from here.
The key points? Leino caught a break on two of the three things that Shanahan looks for: Read was not hurt on the play and Leino has no history of supplemental discipline to speak of. So that's the good for him.
But the bad? It was a reckless play, as Shanahan points out. He made a play on the puck by lifting up Read's stick and seemingly jostling the stick loose. The elbow that came up high afterward to Read's head was unnecessary and just a bad play.
Shanahan goes on to point out that the head was the principle point of contact. I'd argue the head was the only point of contact on the hit. It was quite literally a textbook definition of a bad hit they want out of the sport.
It also is going to leave Sabres fans wondering when they are going to get a call to go their way. It seems they have been on the bad side of nearly every possible questionable play involving them this season, most glaringly the non-suspension for Milan Lucic with his much-discussed hit on Ryan Miller.
This suspension is a slap on the wrist if there ever were one. A suspension pretty much had to be handed down on such an obvious elbow to the head in open ice. Luckily for everybody involved, it wasn't worse for Read.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:34 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It appears that Brendan Shanahan's schedule is full. Again.
Not only does he have to deal with (we're assuming) Edmonton's Andy Sutton for his hit on Alexei Ponikarovsky during Wednesday's game, it's also been announced that Buffalo's Ville Leino and Colorado's Kevin Porter will have disciplinary hearings for seperate incidents over the past couple of days.
As always, it's important to keep in mind that a hearing does not mean a suspension is automatic, but it sure seems like it's possible.
Porter is being called in for his knee-on-knee hit against the Vancouver Canucks that resulted in David Booth being sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL. There was a debate as to whether or not he would face any supplemental discipline, and the fact Booth is going to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time is not a positive development for Porter.
He was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing.
Leino, meanwhile, is having a hearing because of an elbow he delivered to the head of Philadelphia's Matt Read during the Sabres 5-4 overtime loss to the Flyers on Wednesday night. He was not penalized on the play, but when watching the video, it's not hard to see why Shanahan wants to have a word with him, as he deliberately stuck his elbow out and made contact with Read's head as he skated past him.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:06 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Thanks to a late goal from rookie sensation Matt Read the Philadelphia Flyers were able to pull out a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. It proved to be a somewhat costly win as the team lost Jaromir Jagr to what has been described as a "lower body injury" after he played just 1:22 of ice-time before exiting in the first period.
Jagr has been a vital part of the Flyers' early season success, scoring at a point-per-game pace throughh his first 17 games of the season, while forming an outstanding 1-2 punch with Claude Giroux.
Though the injury is not considered to be serious, it's assumed that Jagr will not make the trip to Winnipeg for the Flyers' game against the Jets on Saturday.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced against his former team to help pick up the win, which had to be pretty satisfying on a personal level after a couple of his former teammates had some strong words for him prior to the game.