Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Suddenly Started Scoring

Yesterday I looked at Matt Carle of the Tampa Bay Lightning a player who suddenly stopped scoring this season.  Today I want to look at the opposite situation.  I want to find a player who suddenly started scoring this season.  The best example of that this season is Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators.  Hoffman has 34 points in his 33 games this season.  He has never scored at anywhere near point per game rates in the past.  Last year was his first full NHL season.  He scored 48 points in 79 games.  At age 26, he is a little bit old to suddenly make this jump.

He showed some scoring ability in his final AHL season in 2013/14.  In 51 games, he scored 67 points.  Before that he hadn't had a point per game season since junior in 2009/10. 

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Suddenly Stopped Scoring

it is always interesting to find established players who suddenly stops performing at those expectations either by surpassing them or failing to meet them.  One clear example of a player in that situation who is underachieving his expectations is Matt Carle of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  So far this season he has played 31 games without scoring a single point.  He has the most games played with no points by a position player so far this year.  Carle has been a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. 

Last year he had 18 points in 59 games played.  That was his lowest point total since 2007/08.  He has a 42 point career best and has met or exceeded 35 points four times in his career.  His offensive ability, which is a significant portion of his game, has completely fallen apart.  Perhaps there were signs of this last year in the playoffs.  Carle played 25 playoff games as the Lightning went to the finals and was limited to 3 assists and a -10 +/- rating. 

What causes a 31 year old to lose his game like that?  It is hard to find  clear answer.  He played a lot of games last season with his playoff run and hasn't had time to recover.  While there is no clear significant injury there may be nagging ones.  In the end, it is hard to imagine that any player can lose their offence completely as quickly as he has.  I expect that he will show signs of improvement in the future, though he is on the downside of a career.

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Top Corsi Player

Drew Doughty leads the NHL in raw Corsi so far this season.  He has an unadjusted Corsi of +220 through 34 games played.  This shows that Doughty's team has had possession of the puck in 5 on 5 situations when he is on the ice moreso than any other player in the NHL.  Doughty was the leader in raw Corsi last year as well.  This is one thing that is promised about puck possession measured through Corsi.  It is a very repeatable portion of a hockey game.  Thus it is usually a good prediction that good Corsi players (and teams) will remain good Corsi players (and teams) from year to year.  Drew Doughty is the best puck possession player in hockey today.

This is a clear success of the Corsi statistic.  Anyone watching Drew Doughty would notice that he is a top NHL player.  His value is better than his traditional NHL stats.  He is the 16th highest scoring defenceman so far this year with 21 points.  His +10 +/- rating is good, but nine defencemen have better +/- ratings.  Corsi (puck possession) shows that Doughty has the value that is clearly above his conventional statistics.

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Winter Classic Viewing Party

This year's winter classic outdoor hockey game on New Year's Day will take place in Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL's New England Patriots as the Montreal Canadiens play the Boston Bruins.  In part of the celebration of this event, Boston mayor Martin Walsh planned to hold a public viewing party in Copley Square in downtown Boston.  The NHL has killed this idea.  They claim that "public viewing gatherings for nationally televised regular season games are not permissable under the NHL media-rights policies."  This kind of decision is a bad move for the NHL.  Events like this help to hook new hockey fans.  They have significant longterm payoff for the NHL.  In the shorter term they reduce the number of televisions watching the winter classic game.  It may reduce the number of people who pay to attend the winter classic game.  The NHL cannot look at the longterm if there is any potential for short term losses in the process.  This kind of decision is typical of the Gary Bettman NHL.

Here is a Boston Globe article on this announcement that was partially lost top the media because it was announced just before Christmas.

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I NOW Consider Erik Karlsson A Hall Of Famer

I like to try to identify the point when a given NHL player reaches the point that he is good enough to make the Hockey Hall of Fame regardless of what happens in the rest of their careers.  Today I think Erik Karlsson has made it.  Karlsson is a two time Norris Trophy winner, having won the award in 2012 and 2015.  Every player who is Hall of fame eligible who has won multiple Norris Trophies is in the Hall of Fame.  There are a couple of eligible players who have won the award once who have been eligible for the Hall for many years and have not been inducted and probably never will be.  Thus winning one Norris Trophy does not guarantee induction.  Winning two probably is enough - at least if the player has a full successful career.  There is room potentially for a player to win two Norris Trophies and then fade away almost immediately and hence not make the Hall of Fame.  Erik Karlsson must show that he is not that case to be a Hall of Famer.

Karlsson has to show that he is having a strong season this year and I would consider him a Hall of Famer.  He is doing that.  With the season nearing its mid-point and nearing Christmas he is the top scoring defenceman in the league.  He is my current pick for the 2016 Norris Trophy lead.  In the unlikely event that the rest of his season falls apart, this is enough to show that he is having a solid season in addition to his two Norris Trophies.

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All Star Voting

How is the NHL all star voting going this year?  Do you know who is winning and by how many votes?  I am almost certain that you don't.  The NHL is hiding this information.  This is because they do not know what to do with the results.  John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes has been the leading vote-getter since voting has opened up.  He isn't your typical all star.  He is a goon with only nine games played this season.  He averages slightly over six minutes of ice time per game and has only one assist to show for his time.  He has passed through waivers twice this season.  In fact his career isn't an all star type career.  He has five goals and 540 penalty minutes to show for 283 career games played.  He has been selected as an internet prank to get the player who least deserves an all star game into the game.

This year fan voting will select a captain for each division.  These division teams will play a mini-tournament of 3 on 3 hockey.  Could John Scott even keep up with the speed of play?  It might be fun to watch for a couple minutes.

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Problems In Columbus

Things have not gone well this season in Columbus.  They are in last place in the NHL.  They got off to such a bad start that coach Todd Richards was fired and replaced by John Tortorella.  Tortorella has success in the past coaching in the NHL.  He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.  At that time he was making hockey fun for his team and that allowed them to reach success.  He hasn't been able to replicate that success more recently.

With a struggling team like Columbus Tortorella has few dials that he knows how to turn that might lead to better results.  He has chosen to bench key players.  He benched top scorer Scott Hartnell for a game.  He tried the same on Ryan Johansen, who is probably his most talented player.  That hasn't worked out so well.  There is now open speculation about Johansen being traded.

While it is possible to make a good trade, it will be hard to trade Johansen for value.  He is only 23 years old and has shown considerable potential at the NHL level.  The problem is he isn't having the strongest season.  It will be hard to get an asset in return for Johansen of equal or greater value.

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AHL Standings Leader

Ever since the first week of November, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have been in first place in the AHL.  They are the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate.  They are going through an interesting test.  Their coach Mike Sullivan has left to become the head coach in the NHL with Pittsburgh.  He has been succeeded by Jay Leach in his first career head coaching job.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has given up the AHL lead slightly to the Toronto Marlies (the Maple Leafs affiliate).  In 29 games the Marlies have a 22-7 record with two regulation tie points.  This gives them a .793 winning percentage.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has played 26 games and has a 20-6 record with one regulation tie point giving them a .788 winning percentage.

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Top Goalie This Season

At the beginning of November I picked Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers as not only the Vezina Trophy leader but also the Hart Trophy leader.  Lundqvist was off to an incredible start.  He cooled off from that point.  By the end of November it was clear that Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks was the Hart leader, but remained the Vezina leader.  Lundqvist has given up the Vezina lead now.  He allowed 11 goals in his last three appearances (and two were not complete games).  He has been surpassed this season by Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals.

Holtby has a league leading 1.83 goals against average and a .935 save percentage which is second to Michal Neuvirth (who has split the goaltending duties in Philadelphia).    He is a big part of the reason the Capitals are off to a conference leading start.

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Top +/- Rating

The top +/- rating in the NHL belongs to Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings.  He has a +19 rating.  This is four points above any other player in the NHL this season.  He is twelve points better than any other Detroit teammate.  That is pretty good for a rookie.

Realistically this result is not sustainable.  Larkin has the highest PDO in the NHL so far this season among players with more than a few games played.  This means that the Detroit shooting percentage plus their saves percentage is higher with Larkin on the ice than any other player in the league.  This is something that Larkin has little control over.  It shows he has had good luck so far in his NHL career.

Larkin will be a very good player.  He is a strong rookie.  I do not see him as rookie of the year - Artemi Panarin leads there - but he is likely a nominee.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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