Now that we’ve got the trade deadline in the books for another year, it’s time to focus on the playoff races. Like last season, it’s going to come down to the last day, which makes for some exciting hockey heading into the post season.
Evgenii Dadonov has followed an interesting path to being an NHL regular. He was drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In 2008-09, he scored seven points in as many World Junior Hockey Championship matches. Dadonov spent his first season in North America in the AHL, recording 40 points in 76 games while getting a taste of the NHL (four games, no points). The next season was split between the AHL, where he scored 16 points in 24 contests, and the NHL with 17 points in 36 matches. In the final year of his entry level contract, Dadonov played only 15 NHL games, recording three points along with nine points in 20 AHL contests.
The Russian winger spent the next five seasons in the KHL, culminating in last year’s 30 goals and 66 points in 53 games. He added 19 points in 18 playoff games for SKA St. Petersburg. In the last three World Championships, Dadonov has recorded a cumulative 32 points over 30 contests. He also represented Team Russia at the World Cup, recording one point in four games.
All that seasoning has led to this season. The 28-year-old stormed out of the gate with 14 points in his first 11 games, but then he encountered some struggles and injury issues, resulting in only seven points in his next 20 contests. He’s turned it on again with 20 points over his last 20 matches.
Dadonov averages 18:52 minutes per game and is firmly entrenched on the Panthers top power play unit. He’s heating up down the stretch and could finish with 30 goals and more than 60 points. I’d say that his second stint in the NHL is going quite well.
Team by Team Quick Hits by Conference
Andreas Athanasiou has five points in the last eight games. He will finish the season with a new career high, possibly 40 points. It will be interesting to see how contract talks go during the off-season after this year’s delay in signing a one-year deal.
One player who is taking it to the next level and not getting much recognition is Vincent Trocheck. Over the last two seasons, he has recorded 53 and 54 points. He already has 55 points and is one goal short of his career best 24. On pace for 33 goals and 76 points, Trocheck is also surprisingly ninth in the NHL in shots on goal with 214 and might hit 300 by seasons end.
Heading into last night’s match, Brendan Gallagher had 12 points in his last 14 games. He is on pace to set career highs in goals (28), points (48) and shots on goal (276). A rare bright spot for the Habs this season.
I’ll admit I am a fan of Mark Stone. Some call it hockey sense, but the guy just has “it”. He has 22 points in his last 14 games and is on pace for 79 points, but can he stay out of the infirmary long enough to set a new career best? Surely, he’s due for some luck in the health department.
Freshly acquired J.T. Miller is going to settle in very nicely with the Bolts. He was scoring at a 52-point pace on a Rangers team that is not nearly as offensively talented as his new team. Watch out if Miller finds himself on the top power play unit.
The Hurricanes have suffered a power outage, recording five straight losses and scoring only six goals during that stretch.
The Blue Jackets own the league’s second worst power play, converting only 15.4 per cent of their opportunities. The penalty kill is ranked 27th and only Montreal, Buffalo and Arizona score less goals per game. Their special teams will need to improve if they hope to have any success in the post season.
Nico Hischier has 10 points in his last eight games and is on pace to finish with 54 points. If he can maintain his recent pace, he might play himself into a top-three finish in the Calder trophy voting behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Boeser. Defenseman Andy Greene is third in the NHL in blocked shots with 147.
The Islanders are a great team to watch if you like goal scoring. Opponents score an average of 3.54 goals per game, the highest in the league and they are fourth best at scoring themselves, averaging 3.24 goals per contest. Anthony Beauvillier has five points in his last five matches.
I kind of like the moves the Rangers made around the trade deadline this year. It will be fun to watch how their many new faces mesh with the players that remain from the purge.
The Flyers are the hottest team in the entire NHL, sporting a 9-0-1 record over their last 10 games, vaulting them into the thick of the playoff race. Defenseman Robert “You Old” Hagg leads the NHL in hits with 220. Unfortunately, he is, in fantasy terms, a literal one hit (category) wonder.
Phil Kessel has 34 power-play points, two more than both Sidney Crosby and Blake Wheeler. The Thrill is on pace for 34 goals, which would be his highest since 2013-14 and a career best 91 points. Hot dog.
If we didn’t know better, one might think Washington is sand-bagging and will turn it on heading into the playoffs. The winners of the last two year’s President’s Trophy are in a dog fight to win the Metropolitan division. Two seasons ago, they scored 59 more goals than they allowed. Last year, they were plus-81. This season, they are sitting at plus-6.
Three of the top four goals scorers in the NHL are Russian. Alexander Ovechkin leads the way with 38 goals and his seventh Rocket Richard trophy is within his grasp. Evgeni Malkin has 36 tallies and Nikita Kucherov and William Karlsson each have 33 markers. Patrik Laine and Tyler Seguin have 31 goals apiece.
According to Quanthockey.com, there are only 36 Russians playing in the NHL this season or 3.9 per cent of the league. It’s amazing that three of them are among the top four goal scorers in the league. Where have all the North American goal scorers gone?
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