Ramblings: Zegras Magic; Kane Signs; Coyotes Future; Merzlikins – January 28

Michael Clifford

2022-01-28

It has been a small sample so far, but Alex Tuch has been very impressive in Buffalo. He has 10 points in 10 games, and they generally look competitive in most games they play, even if they're not close. There are young players that are improving while Rasmus Dahlin looks great on an improving blue line. These aren't things often said of Buffalo rosters in recent memory.

One thing that is a bit concerning right now is that Tuch is seeing a shot rate decline of over 30% from last year, and it's by far the lowest of his career. Now, again, it's just been 10 games, and that doesn't tell us anything concrete about his future with the Sabres.

The one point I want to make here is that now that he's on the top line with Buffalo, he's playing with very good line mates. Back in Vegas, he was on a third line, a pseudo-checking line, and that means he was usually the most gifted offensive player on his trio. He is taking just 18% of the shot attempts generated with him on the ice, down quite a bit from a career-low of 21% back in 2017-18. Both Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner are shooters and goal scorers. If the team is only going to generate ~60 shot attempts per 60 minutes with them on the ice, there are only so many shots to go around. Tuch is no longer the most gifted player on his line, in my opinion, and even if he were, the other two are shooters.

I do think that he's going to find a lot of success in Buffalo, and this isn't meant to negate that. This is to say that shots on goal are a finite resource and there is reason to believe that Tuch won't see huge shot rate jumps even if he keeps playing 19 minutes a night. He will bring enough elsewhere to be valuable, and he won't fall off the map shot-wise, but it's something to monitor moving forward.

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It sure seemed that this was going to be the last year for Arizona in their current arena, given they stopped paying bills a while ago and had to be shamed into catching up. That left them in a pretty precarious situation, you know, being a professional sports franchise with nowhere to play.

The problem has been solved, assuming they have to change locales. They get to stay close and move to a 5000-seat stadium: