Dobber Hockey Ramblings: Cause vs Effect; Kucherov in Elite Company, EK Returns and More

Cam Robinson




As Dimitri Filipovich said, “It’s Nikita Kucherov’s world, we’re all just lucky enough to live in it.”


The 24-year-old Russian superstar has scored a goal in each of his first seven games of the season, joining Mario Lemieux as the only players to accomplish that feat in the past 30 years. Before that, Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy had delivered such dominance.


Decent company.


Let’s be frank, the Bolts top line is ridiculous right now. Stamkos, Namestnikov and Kucherov are playing on easy mode most shifts and between them, they’ve tallied 13 goals and 32 points through the first seven games.



With a goal and two assists Tuesday night, Stamkos has increased his season-long point streak to seven games and 11 points. Dating back to last season, he's converted 11 goals and 32 points in his previous 24 games. 


While Stamkos and Kucherov are surely well-guarded in all leagues, Vladdy Namestnikov continues to be a quiet and very productive producer early on this season. The 24-year-old former first-round selection has always had loads of skill but his versatility has led to limited results.


Regardless of where he slid into the lineup – first line, fourth line, wing or centre, he’s done what’s asked of him. Now he finds himself firmly entrenched on one of the most lethal top lines in the league and a net front home on the team’s top power play unit. This level of deployment is so tasty it’s hard not to imagine him pushing to double his 28 points from a season ago.


While it’s still very early on, Namestnikov has totaled three goals and seven points in seven contests while seeing 68.75 percent of his zone starts in the offensive end, pushing play at a CorsiFor rate of 56 percent and seeing his points-per-60 rate creep near the front of the pack at 3.4.


The 3:44 of power play time per contest is surely helping things along as well.


Advanced Stats




5 on 5 SH%

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Now might be a great time to convince an owner that they’re selling high on the career-high 35-point scorer when they may be selling low. Kick the tires and find out the value because you could be looking at a fresh player ready to break into the 60-point zone.




By the way, that New Jersey – Tampa Bay game was a treat to watch. Loads of offense, back and forth tallies and wide open hockey. Hands up if you imagined the Devils ever fitting that description this season? It’s been a fun surprise and hopefully it lasts.


Will Butcher continues to feast on the early season hype, recording his ninth assist and point in six contests. He’s been far better than advertised, and is oozing confidence right now.


Fellow rookie, Jesper Bratt was held pointless for the third consecutive game, this time only seeing 11:18 of ice time. The euphoric adrenaline appears to have worn off. Time to look for another streaming option.




Brock Boeser sure doesn’t look like he wants to see the press box ever again. The Canucks’ rookie scored a power play goal and added a helper in just 14:05 of ice.


That’s two goals and two assists in his three games this season, and stretching back to his cup of coffee at the end of last year, he has converted six goals on 32 shots (18.75%) in 12 games.


The 20-year-old knows how to score goals. This much we know.





As the host of Keeping Karlsson, Elan would say: “ Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaah!”


Erik Karlsson is back and He. Is. Fabulous. The greatest defenseman of his era made his season debut last night and while his Sens suffered a 3-0 shutout loss to Anders Nilsson and the Canucks, Karlsson played 20:58 with a couple of shots on goal and displayed his gorgeous skating and out-of-this-world intelligence.


He’ll be racking up points in short order.




A couple of 2017 draftees saw their NHL debuts last night. Owen Tippett saw 11:39 playing primarily with Jared McCann and Jamie McGinn from a third line role. The 10th overall selection from this past June’s draft has the skills to become an impactful scoring winger down the line and it’s nice to see him receive over two minutes of power play time in his first contest to get his legs under him.


Meanwhile, the Hurricanes rookie, Martin Necas started his first game next to Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm. That’s a cozy spot for an NHL debut however, he was often replaced by more established players and finished his night with just 6:54 and zeros across the box score.


The most recent 12th overall pick has done very well getting to this point, but it shouldn’t be a surprise when he finds himself back in the Czech Republic at some point this year.




Chalk up another win for the Golden Knights. Granted they squandered a 4-1 lead, but the newest expansion team now finds itself at the top of the Pacific division with 10 points. Malcolm Subban recorded his second career win in as many games and might be a decent short-term stream option while Fleury remains sidelined with the concussion.


Alex Tuch is making the most of his first forway into the NHL. The 21-year-old former Wild prospect has scored goals in consecutive games to go along with a helper and nine shots while seeing just an average of 13 minutes. Expect his role with Vegas to increase at least in the short term. 


Jason Pominville tacked on two assists in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Golden Knights, that brings the soon-to-be 35-year-old up to four goals and nine points in seven games. He's witnessing a great resurgence back in his old Buffalo stomping grounds. 


Freddie Andersen finally got off the schneid by playing his best game of the year, shutting out the high-powered and fourth highest scoring team in the Washington Capitals.


His 30 saves bring his save percentage all the way to….0.899. But don’t fret fantasy owners, he saw an even worse stretch to begin last season and managed to crawl all the way back to respectable-land and a 0.918.


Mitch Marner indeed slipped down to the fourth line for the classic Babcock-wake up. The sophomore winger did see 12:59 with the help of two minutes of power play ice from the second unit.


Marner hasn’t been good enough so far this year, but don’t forget that William Nylander felt a similar wrath early last year and things brushed out alright.


It’s worth noting that Barry Trotz reunited Ovechkin – Backstrom – Oshie for stretches in this game and will likely continue to do so when the team isn’t creating as was the case Tuesday evening.




Shayne Gostisbehere continues to put his sophomore slump in the rear-view mirror. He scored his first goal of the season and tacked on a power play assist for good measure in Philly’s 5-1 drumming of the Panthers.


The 24-year-old is up to 10 points in six games and sits atop the NHL leaderboard for defensemen. He’s seeing 21:20 per contest with 4:05 of that coming from the man-advantage.


That 59-point pace he set in 64 games as a rookie in 2015-16 is looking like something he can replicate here in year three.




Steve Mason got torched once again to the tune of five goals against on 39 shots. He now sits at an 0-3-0 record with a bloated 5.98 goals-against-average and 0.846 save percentage. Meanwhile Connor Hellebuyck has rolled to a 3-0-0 record and a 0.937 save percentage mark.


This potential goalie controversy doesn’t look like it’ll even get off the ground.




There’s a common question that is brought up often during hockey discussions: Is a player successful because they produce, or do they produce because they’re successful?


Being able to identify players who can drive their own offense, create for those around them and find the scoresheet despite their quality of line mates is particularly important at the top of a draft.


Determining which players are passengers can be a lot more difficult.


We’ll get the obvious ones out of the way early. Yes, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Erik Karlsson are all premier players capable to running offense at a high-level from virtually anywhere in the lineup. Would their production diminish if their ice was cut in half? Of course, but you can spin the wheel for line mates and still feel relatively confident that they will end up on the positive side of the ledger when all is said and done.


Discovering the next tier of talent is where things get difficult.


Take for instance the Washington Capitals new line up. From 2009-10 until 2016-17, Nicklas Backstrom spent nearly 75 percent of his even strength ice next to Alex Ovechkin – 5917 minutes with to 1496 minutes apart.


In their time together, the distributing centre has worked at a CorsiFor percentage rate (CF%) of 53.07 and a GoalsFor (GF%) percentage rate of 56.65.


Apart, Backstrom witnessed a dip in his CF% to 50.27 percent which isn’t so surprising considering he was without one of the greatest volume shooting wingers we’ve ever seen. However, his GF% only slid a tad down to 52.2 but illustrates that his ability to drive play away from Ovechkin is still viable.


So, while Evegni Kuznetsov and Ovechkin are making sweet sweet music together to begin the season, Backstrom owners shouldn’t fret. The distributing Swede can drive his own offense and still line up on the top man-advantage unit where he’s recorded an average of 35.5 power play points over the past four campaigns – good enough to lead the league over that span.


It doesn’t hurt that Backstrom is sitting right near the top of the league leaders for points right now, but that trust should stay strong even if/when he isn’t.


Now let’s look at Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton…


We don’t have the luxury of a large sample size with the soon-to-be 22-year-old, but we do have a couple thousand minutes’ worth of ice time to break down with two different elite talents.


In 2015-16, Draisaitl primarily played centre and his most common line mate was Taylor Hall. In the 861 minutes together, Draisaitl witnessed a CF% of 51.92 and a Scoring Chances For percentage (SCF%) of 54.41.


In the 152 minutes apart, Draisaitl surprisingly saw his shot generation increase to 53.44 percent, but his scoring chances plummeted to 33 percent. Not surprisingly, 37 of Draisaitl’s 42 even-strength points that year came with Hall on the ice, which works out to an even-strength points-per-60 rate of 2.58 with Hall compared to 1.97 without.


In 2016-17, Draisaitl saw 674 minutes on the wing next to Connor McDavid and 500 minutes away from the Phenom. Together, Draisaitl saw a CF% of 53.85 and a SCF% of 54.55.


Apart, is a completely different animal. Draisailt’s CF% dropped all the way to 47.74 while his SCF% slipped down to 47.25. Looking at his GF%, the big German saw a healthy 59.42 rating with the Oilers’ captain but just a 44.19 mark without.


Of Draisaitl’s 50 even-strength points, he clicked at a P/60 of 2.85 with McDavid and 2.16 without.


So, while Draisaitl’s 77 points a year ago is fantastic production for a young player, it’s worth noting that he doesn’t often drive play at even-strength and when the Oilers inevitably decide it is best to split their two best weapons onto to separate lines, his production will surely be affected.


First and foremost, let’s hope he recovers quickly from his most recent concussion.

(Stats courtesy Natural Stat Trick)



That’s all for now! As always, feel free to follow me on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.  



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