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Tag: Connor McDavid

Ranking The Top Centers In The Pacific Division

This week the NHL Network ranked the league’s twenty best centers. Lady Byng trophy winner William Karlsson came in at 17th place, not bad for a guy who wasn’t rated in the top 100 last season. Connor McDavid, Anze Kopitar, Ryan Getzlaf and Leon Draisaitl were the other Pacific Division centers to make the NHL Network’s list.

So let’s have some fun and rank the top centers in the Pacific Division.

1. Connor McDavid: There’s not much to write. McDavid has 256 career points in 205 games, averaging 1.22 points per game. The Edmonton center has more points (208), goals created (77), assists per game (.84), and adjusted points (220) than any other player in the NHL since 2015-16. McDavid will continue to remain the top center in the division, and the league for many, many years.

2. Anze Kopitar: Again, this is another no-brainer. The Kings captain has averaged almost a point of game over his career, and put up his best (1.12) PPG average last season. After 12 NHL seasons, the Slovenian continues to get better. Kopitar ended the season with a career-high 92 points, and took home the Selke trophy. Also, he’s a faceoff wizard. Against Vegas in the postseason, Kopitar posted a 60.4% faceoff win percentage. Pretty impressive, considering the puck was in his zone most of the series.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

3. William Karlsson: I battled myself trying to be as objective as possible and at the end of the day, ranking Karlsson third behind McDavid and Kopitar was the only right decision. Most of the players on this list have consistently produced for multiple seasons. However, the overall skill Karlsson showcased leads you to believe he’ll repeat his production from 2017-18.

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Gallant Has A Plan To Slow McDavid, But It’s Easier To Say Than Implement

Connor McDavid is fast, so fast that it feels like he has the ability to turn on the video game turbo button when no one else can. By my count, in two games against the Golden Knights, McDavid created nine scoring chances, including five directly in front of the net… on his own. Literally, no one else had to do anything but skate to the front of the goal, McDavid did the rest.

He’s ridiculously fast. We’ve got to manage our players. When they go out on the ice against him they’ve got to try and keep his speed away. Try and pick him up early, try and deny him the puck, but every coach says the same thing, it’s tough to do. -Gerard Gallant

Raise your right hand if you think you can stop Connor McDavid. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest reasons stopping McDavid is such a challenge is the incredible amount of time he spends on the ice. In the last game at T-Mobile Arena, McDavid logged 25:22 of ice time. No Golden Knight forward crossed 22 minutes and Shea Theodore, a defenseman, led the team with 24:01, nearly a minute and half less than McDavid.

McDavid averages 21:28 of ice time per game. The Golden Knights leader, again, a defenseman, Nate Schmidt comes in at 22:21. Vegas’ top forward, William Karlsson, averages 18:26, a solid four to five shifts fewer than McDavid.

McDavid’s elite speed and skill have to be matched carefully, you can’t just throw anyone out there against him. All Star head coach Gerard Gallant loves to roll his four lines in order as often as possible, but against Edmonton and McDavid, that’s simply not possible.

There’s probably two lines I like to have against him most of the time or as much as possible and there’s four defensemen I like to have against him. But sometimes it doesn’t happen like that, they’ll throw him out every second shift or third shift. But every player in the NHL can play against those guys. -Gallant

He’s talking about Marchessault/Karlsson/Smith and probably Carpenter/Bellemare/Nosek (though Perron/Haula/Neal played more time against McDavid in the last game), and the defensive pairings of Schmidt/McNabb and Theodore/Engelland.

But here in lies the problem, and likely the reason the Golden Knights have struggled with the Oilers; Gallant admits that it doesn’t always work that way. In the OT victory on January 13th, McDavid’s line went scoreless against the Golden Knights top line, yet he was still on the ice for a pair of goals, the two even-strength goals Edmonton scored in the game. Marchessault, Karlsson, and Smith may shut him down, but that doesn’t mean he’s down and out of the game completely.

It’s a conundrum that every team in the league deals with when they play Edmonton. This year, most have solved the riddle. To this point the Golden Knights have not.

They’ve got another shot at it tonight, and if they do, they’ll become the first team in the Western Conference to reach 80 points, but as Turk implied, it’s easier said than done.

How Do You Stop Connor McDavid? Reloaded

Doing this to him probably wouldn’t hurt. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We gave Nate Schmidt the chance to answer this question before the Golden Knights first opportunity to play against the league’s best player. His answer was succinct, educated, and actually seemed do-able. Then the Golden Knights lost 8-2 and McDavid went off for two goals and an assist in the butt kicking. Schmidt’s answer has changed a bit since.

It’s a healthy medium. Sorry for the cliche. – Nate Schmidt

Most athletes and coaches say they play one game at a time and always move on to the next game. Classic sports cliches. Well, that’s not always the case. Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt clearly remembers getting lit up in Edmonton.

We didn’t do a very good job of it. I didn’t do a very good job. That top line is productive, and we didn’t do enough to stop them. -Schmidt

Schmidt spent plenty of time sharing the ice with McDavid. He led the team with 29 shifts, shorthanded minutes (3:55), and total ice time (23:39) against the Oilers. Schmidt ended the night -2 after being on the ice for four of Edmonton’s eight tallies. He hit for the cycle while on the ice; two power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and one even-strength goal. Well, actually I guess McDavid and the Oilers hit for the cycle.

He had his way with us, and that’s what makes this game that much more exciting for us. Especially, after what happened the last time we played them. -Schmidt

What can Vegas do to contain McDavid this time around?

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Golden Knights Have Had Success Against The Opposition’s Best

Luca, the good guy is about to go out there. Luca? Hey, where’s Luca? Doesn’t he know we really need him tonight? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As you’ve read on, containing individual talent has been a key factor in the early success of the Golden Knights. Today, on a day in which the Golden Knights are set to face the league’s superstar, we’re taking a closer look at how Vegas has done against each of the previous stars they’ve faced.

Our sample includes 21 star players over the course of the first 16 games of the season. 13 stars performed under their points per game averages, including eight who went scoreless against the Golden Knights. While only eight of the 21 exceeded their average against Vegas. Plus, you could argue at least four of the eight (Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson) were skewed by late-game, man-advantage points.

PlayerPPGvs. VGKDiff
Jamie Benn1.0000-1.00
Tyler Seguin1.00010.00
Dylan Larkin0.83310.167
Brad Marchand (H)1.0711-0.071
David Pastrnak (H)1.0631-0.063
Jack Eichel0.82411.176
Evander Kane0.94432.056
Vladamir Tarasenko1.1890-1.189
Alex Pietrangelo0.88910.111
Patrick Kane0.94410.056
Jonathan Toews0.6110-0.611
Nathan MacKinnon0.9380-0.938
John Tavares1.11820.882
Mika Zibanejad1.00032.000
Brad Marchand (A)1.0710-1.071
David Pastrnak (A)1.0630-1.063
Patrice Bergeron (A)1.0000-1.000
Erik Karlsson1.5451-0.545
Auston Matthews1.1881-0.188
Blake Wheeler1.4380-1.438
Mark Scheifele1.3131-0.313
Patrik Laine0.75010.250

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Nate Schmidt Goes In-Depth To Explain What It Takes To Stop Connor McDavid

Warning: This is about as in-depth on hockey tactics as we will likely ever get on this site, but here goes.

Tomorrow night the Vegas Golden Knights travel to Alberta to take on the Edmonton Oilers and one of the league’s best players Connor McDavid. Before they left for the road trip, we caught up with Nate Schmidt and he gave about as in-depth of a breakdown on how to stop slow one of the league’s greats.

So what exactly is Schmidt saying here?

The first thing he says is “make sure you have a good gap.” What Schmidt is talking about when he says gap is the distance between the defenseman and the attacking forward. Usually, the ideal scenario for a defenseman is to be within one stick length of the forward when the player enters the blue line. This closes down the space the forward has to make a play. Against a player like McDavid who has elite speed, the gap often increases because he’s either moving so quickly or the defenseman doesn’t feel comfortable staying in front of him. When he says “good gap” he means he wants to be as close to McDavid as possible without being left in the dust.

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Forget About LA, SJ, And ANA, Vegas May Have To Worry About EDM

I’m going to get crap for this but what the hell, go ahead and pile on. When Las Vegas enters the NHL next season maybe they won’t be chasing the Sharks, Kings, or Ducks in the Pacific division. Possibly the newly formed Knights could be looking up at the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. In six games played, the Oil has 10 points, the second most goals in the NHL, all with a solid +7 goal differential. Yeah, they’re pretty slick.

Obviously, after six games I’m jumping the gun a bit. We have no idea if this team can sustain their early success and break the postseason drought. Edmonton fans haven’t seen a playoff game since the Game 7 Stanley Cup loss against Carolina. So you can only imagine their desire to get back. However, the 2016-17 Oilers are on pace to score over 100 more goals than they did last season. Edmonton hasn’t scored more than 250 goals since that 05-06 Western Conference Championship team. In fact, this year’s team is projected to score the same amount of goals as Edmonton’s last Stanley Cup winning team in 1989-90. Scary, right? The Oilers have been so irrelevant over the past 25 years it’s been sad, but the end is near.

Leading the charge is obviously McJesus. Connor McDavid is lighting it up as we all expected. Edmonton’s Captain is on pace for over 120 points. Silly right? Granted, McDavid won’t play 82 games, will hit a drought, and has had a relatively weak schedule thus far. Either way, his video game like numbers at 1.5 points per game are getting everyone’s attention. Next on the list is right wing Jordan Eberle who’s averaging a point per game, and same for center Leon Draisaitl. Also, making a difference is bruiser free agent signing Milan Lucic with four points early on. Overall, every forward has a point, and only two defenseman remain pointless. Really good point distribution. Compare that to the woeful LA Kings, with 14 goals for and 18 goals against. If it wasn’t for Tanner Pearson‘s four goals, the Kings might not even have the measly two wins they do have. Is this article making any sense yet?

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Double Minor With Jason Pothier – 2/13/16

Hallelujah for Connor McJesus! We’re starting to think the Double Minor is developing a bit of a jinx (sorry Isles). Finally, it’s the first ever challenge. Ken’s got no chance. Jason’s back in the box. It’s Double Minor with Jason Pothier.

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