Ramblings: Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking (Mar. 17)

steve laidlaw

2016-03-17

Ramblings: Jake Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking and more.

Happy St. Paddy's Day to all my Irish brethren, even if you are only Irish for the day.

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Jake Allen has not enjoyed his trip to Alberta. Owners were licking their chops looking at visits to Calgary and Edmonton to kick off their head-to-head playoffs but instead they’ve got a tire fire on their hands. Fantasy hockey, you fickle beast. My condolences to everyone who started Allen this week. You never would have predicted it and the timing is the worst.

As I predicted on Tuesday, the Blues were not going to let Anders Nilsson see the ice again and thus left Allen out there as the Oilers’ power play punctured the Blues time and time again. The Oilers had the league’s 27th ranked power play in terms of efficiency but went 4/6 last night. More on them in a bit.

The Blues don’t play again until Saturday and Brian Elliott is eligible to return off injured reserve and has been skating with the team. Don’t be shocked if he returns for a start this weekend but he may fare much better than Allen considering the recent undisciplined play of the Blues. Elliott is the current league leader in save percentage, however. Golden opportunity for him to take the reins.

The Blues did get a pair of goals out of David Backes who has six goals and nine points in the last 12 games. Is the big man turning around a tough season? Probably not. Backes does have a history of upping production a bit in the final couple of months of the season but there isn’t some definitive trend that I’d want to hang my hat on the idea. He is helping to turn the tide on his low shooting percentage so it’s nice to see some regression working in his favour. Backes, a career 12.4% shooter was shooting just 9.9% prior to his recent hot streak.

Paul Stastny’s scoring streak was put to a halt at four games but he saw a ton of minutes, particularly down the stretch. The Blues are really starting to lean on him like a #1 centerman.

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As mentioned, Edmonton’s power play was rolling, which helped lead Mark Letestu to a two-goal/three-point night. Well done.

Why is Letestu a key figure on the Oilers’ power play? Faceoffs. For the most part, faceoff percentage does not correlate with winning. Puck possession matters but on your average faceoff there isn’t a huge advantage gained by having the puck, you still have to regroup and gain entry to the offensive zone. Faceoffs on the power play are key, however, because you start in the offensive zone and to a certain extent you can diagram some plays to take advantage of an opponent that is down a man and hemmed into their own end.

There is a reason that so many teams have moved to fielding multiple centermen on a single line, frequently with those centermen being of opp