I've been sick for the last handful of days and so I've been stuck at home (skipped a pretty entertaining Edmonton vs Saskatoon game yesterday) spending most of my time reading or watching things online. When that happens I find all sorts of things that get my mind going.
Here's a few thoughts that I've had bouncing around inside my cranium the last few days.
Remember how impressive the Colorado rookie duo was at the start of the season? Everyone was talking about Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, how the Aves came out of the 2009 draft with immediate help from both their 1st and 2nd round picks. Duchene currently leads all NHL rookies with 45 points and should be the leading contender for the Calder Trophy this year.
Selfishly I was more excited about O'Reilly because I took him in my keeper league's draft and was pretty proud of how smart I looked for doing so. It's surprised me that no one has been talking about the way O'Reilly's offensive production has disappeared. The former Erie Otter had compiled 17 points in his first 24 games and he was a +11. Since November 23rd, O'Reilly has only added 4 points - that's just 4 points in 40 games! That's a startling change in production and I wonder if it can be explained as a simple change in role or not.
- Islanders rookie John Tavares has scored just once since Christmas
- Scott Parse has scored all 21 of his points at even strength and is a +11. The former Omaha-Nebraska star is 91st among rookies for average time on ice per game (11:01) and has played all of 5 seconds on the power play.
- Another guy getting it done almost exclusively at even strength: Evander Kane. The Thrashers freshman has bagged 24 of his 25 points playing 5-on-5.
- It's interesting to see how Rob Schremp is fairing on Long Island. Among rookies who have played at least 20 games, he's 4th in points per game scoring (.58) and only 10 of his 25 points have come with the man advantage. That compares favorably to teammates John Tavares (18 of 35 points) and Kyle Okposo (19 of 41) who get half of their points on the PP. Schremp critics had him labeled as a power play specialist but he seems to be getting along just fine at even strength; he's averaging 14:08 a game with 2:37 of that being PP time.
- It's no surprise that the leaders in ice time for rookies are all defencemen. The leader among forwards is Colorado's T.J. Galiardi and considering he's a rookie best +12, it's easy to see why he gets to play an average of 17:46 every night.
- Dean and I came up with the theory that a goalie posting a season SV% of .925 or better was as valuable as a 50-goal scorer. There are two rookie goalies on pace for that mark this year: Detroit's Jimmy Howard (.924) and Boston's Tuukka Rask (.926).
Hey you know how the QMJHL is always stereotyped as the all-offence-no-defence league of the three CHL loops? Interesting to note that the OHL's leading scorer, Tyler Seguin, has 105 points through 60 games and WHL top dog Jordan Eberle has 102 in 54 contests. The leader in the Q? Moncton's Nicolas Deschamps who has 94 after 60 games.
- The CHL has two 50-goal scorers so far with a few guys on the verge of hitting the mark as well. So far, Barrie Colts forward Bryan Cameron (50) is the only guy in the OHL but Jeff Skinner (48), Tyler Seguin (47) and Jeremy Morin (46) are closing in. Kyle Beach (photo: Gary Peterson) leads the CHL in goal scoring with (51) while Jordan Eberle (46) the next best from the WHL. The QMJHL is without a 50-goal man so far but Luke Adam and Gabriel Dumont both have 47.
- The .925 SV% = 50 goals theory stands up using the CHL as a barometer. This year there are currently only 3 tenders in the country that have a save percentage at or above that magical line in the sand; Everett's Tomas Heemskerk (.926), Plymouth's Jeff Hackett (.925) and a CHL best for Barrie's Mavric Parks (.930).
- Calgary Hitmen pipeman Martin Jones leads all CHL goalies with 8 shutouts - no one else has more than 6.
- Kelowna forward Shane McColgan leads all CHL rookies in scoring with 67 points. '90-born defenceman Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants is next with 66 points followed by Ryan Johansen of Portland with 65 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Red Deer who has 64. The top OHL freshman is Peterborough's Matt Puempel with 53 points. The Q rookie leader is Rimouski's Czech import Petr Straka who has 62 points.
We mentioned it on air during The Pipeline Show but in case you missed it, the USHL is expanding again next season by adding two more teams to the fold. Boosting the top junior league in the States to 16 teams are Muskegon, Michigan and Dubuque, Iowa.
With the US-NTDP playing as part of the USHL, the NHL entry draft is going to feature a lot of players being selected from the league. That trend had been growing by leaps and bounds anyway thanks to changes earlier this decade with the old NCAA opt-in rule but this will mean even more exposure for the USHL. I think it's fair to say that the USHL is on par with the QMJHL now in regards to the amount of players who get drafted in the 1st round. I'm not making a case for quality of the leagues being the same, just that the USHL is seeing players taken early just at the same rate the Q is over the last few years. Here's a breakdown of the number of players taken in the 1st round from the Q and the USHL, the number in brackets is how many US-NTDP players could be added to the latter's totals (but were not).
2009 - Q-4, USHL-2 (1)
2008 - Q-0, USHL-1 (0)
2007 - Q-4, USHL-3 (3)
2006 - Q-5, USHL-2 (2)
2005 - Q-4, USHL-2 (2)
- Saskatchewan's Jaden Schwartz continues to lead the USHL in scoring with 77 points through 51 games. He has a 6-point cushion on overage Californian Matt White and 13 points over 3rd place Erik Haula (MIN). (Photo: USHL Images)
- At least in USHL play, US-NTDP forward Austin Czarnik appears to be exceptionally accurate. His shooting percentage is 27% but he's only got ten goals through 21 games... maybe he should shoot more?
By my count there are 58 NCAA programs playing Div-1 hockey. Somebody please explain to me the lack of creativity when it comes to uniforms and team nicknames. The Canadian Football League was parodied on South Park because it had two teams nicknamed the Roughriders (or Rough Riders if you were from Ottawa). But if you thought that was odd, in NCAA hockey there are several duplicate nicknames and a dozen teams with basically the same colour scheme to their sweaters - red and white.
A few clubs deviate slightly by adding some black trim to the mix so you end up with 12 variations ranging from Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. (Photo: AP photo)
Miami, Nebrask-Omaha and Ohio State (the Buckeyes insert grey instead of black!) in the CCHA... Cornell, Harvard, R.P.I. and St. Lawrence in the ECAC... Boston University, Northeastern and Massachusetts (sorta Phoenix brick red than traiditional red) in Hockey East... Wisconsin in WCHA. I may have even missed a couple in there somewhere. This is why I appreciate the efforts of Bowling Green, Niagara and Notre Dame to standout. Hell, even Michigan's helmets help separate them from the pack.
As for the names, I'm sure there is years of tradition behind each moniker but seriously, how many HUSKIES are needed? Well let's see, we've got Connecticut, St. Cloud, Michigan Tech and Northeastern.
Dogs do seem popular as with the Huskies there are a few BULLDOGS as well; Ferris State, Yale, Minnesota-Duluth plus the Terriers of Boston University.
- Princeton, RIT and Colorado College TIGERS.
- The FALCONS of Bentley and Air Force are in the same conference!
- LAKERS? See Mercyhurst and Lake Superior.
- Think WILDCATS might be a unique name? wrong; Northern Michigan and New Hampshire.
- There are even two PIONEERS teams - Denver and Sacred Heart.
It must be great fun to watch RIT and Princeton play. Who you cheering for? "The Tigers! Uh... the ones in the black and orange uniforms! Uh..."
Maybe it's just me but a little creativity and originality goes a long way. No one gets confused when you say your favorite team is the Wolverines, the Badgers, Golden Gophers or the Beavers. Wait a second... I sense a small, woodland animal pattern there too!
They've got the Maine Black Bears, the Brown Bears, the Alaska Nanooks (polar bear logo) and the birds are represented with a few different eagle/falcon varieties.
Is it really that hard to think up a name that no one else is using? Hell, even made up animals like "Seawolves" and "River Hawks" are used thus proving that the ability to be creative and original does exist.
And Paul Kelly wonders why the NCAA keeps losing players to the CHL?!? (...yes that was a joke!)