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Jonathan Marchessault slips through the cracks into starring role with Golden Knights

Jonathan Marchessault slips through the cracks into starring role with Golden Knights

One that probably shouldn’t surprise people is their leading scorer: Jonathan Marchessault, who cashed in last week as Vegas identified him as a core piece to its present and future.

 there’s a good chance they'll produce at the NHL level. Marchessault was able to do that way back in 2011-12 with the Connecticut Whale,Scoring at over a point-per-game pace might be a little lofty,[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-daniel-sedin-jersey]adidas Daniel Sedin jersey[/url], but Marchessault has been showing signs that he was a high-end offensive player all the way back to his American Hockey League days. In the AHL, his first pro season, it’s a general rule that if a player is compiling three or more shots on goal per game, in which he scored 64 points in 76 games.

In parts of five years in the AHL, Marchessault's shots per game went from 3.1 to 3.9 and he scored an average of 24 goals per full season. But despite consistent production in the minors,[url=http://www.capitalshockeyshop.com/adidas-t.j.-oshie-jersey]adidas T. J. Oshie jersey[/url], it wasn’t until 2015-16 when he was finally given a real chance at the NHL level.

 but it’s still considered a weakness to be small,Marchessault had a few things working against him: He was undrafted and only started to score in juniors the year after he was draft eligible, and of course he stands at just 5-9. The league is much more favorable to small players now than years ago, and it was something Marchessault had to overcome.

 Marchessault hasn’t looked back,Since he’s made the NHL, though, and has made steady improvement.

 finally,Moving to a weaker team in the Panthers, his on-ice numbers weren’t a linear improvement in all areas, the stars have aligned, even though his personal numbers improved. But this season, and he’s had luck on his side while his personal performance continues to improve. 

Going into his personal statistics, Marchessault's improvement is just as apparent as the on-ice stats.

 has seen his production go up each year as he plays more significant minutes. He now leads the Golden Knights’ top line with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith against opponents’ top checkers,Marchessault, 27, and they’re controlling play at an absurd level.

 making them one of the most effective lines in the entire NHL,With the Marchessault line on the ice, the Golden Knights control 57.45 percent of shot attempts and 62.5 percent of goals, and they’ve accomplished that with a PDO of just 101.3. 

The only blemish against the line is they’ve taken more penalties than they’ve drawn, which isn’t great considering the Golden Knights’ special teams have been in the middle of the pack this season. But if that’s the only negative, it’s still pretty impressive.

Marchessault is a great example of finding value in players who traditional hockey minds overlook. And while not all diminutive skill players will develop into top-line forwards who flirt with a point per game, those are the sort that a good team can fill out their roster with for relatively little cap space and become a great team, simply because they’re so undervalued. 

Plenty of goings on in Calgary this weekend, kicked off by the Great Glen Gulutzan Stick-Tossing Incident of 2018.

He was, apparently, unhappy with the way the Flames were practicing on Friday and launched into an F-bomb-laden tirade that included both the phrase “check the standings” and impressive distance on the stick toss itself.

It was a bit of a surprise because the Flames are generally playing really well and, of course, they had just 20 wins, had picked up two straight wins. So maybe this was an outsized reaction to guys maybe playing at 75 percent intensity in practice, but his point about the standings should be well taken by everyone on that roster: This Flames team has the talent to be cruising in the Pacific, and isn’t. It’s a criticism that could apply to a few other teams in the division, but through 40 games, at the time, and have also played in five three-point games against Western Conference teams. Which is to say they’re giving away a decent amount of points and the team was about to enter a bit of a tough stretch, with a home game against Anaheim (directly ahead of them in the standings) before a four-game road trip.

 four,So the motivation for the meltdown is apparent enough: If the Flames didn’t keep up their recent winning ways, they maybe come back from that road trip three, [url=http://www.capitalshockeyshop.com/adidas-t.j.-oshie-jersey]Authentic T. J. Oshie jersey[/url], or five points back of the last wild card spot.

 and you’ve certainly seen less scenery chewing in local dinner theater productions of Death of a Salesman. But sometimes you need a bit of scenery chewing. It’s not always a bad thing. Jack Nicholson isn’t exactly going for “subtle” in The Shining,There was some amount of handwringing about how performative the display was, especially given that there were national TV people in the building, right?

And certainly with the Flames dramatic win on Saturday night — which barely avoided gifting Anaheim at least an OT point — maybe people will say it worked. It’s difficult to draw that correlation; the Flames dramatically outplayed a team in the midst of a five-game roadtrip which they are, but on the balance the Flames deserved the win. Is that Gulutzan’s doing? Probably not, frankly, better than. There were some problems in the third period and drama throughout, but he’s done a pretty good job with this club after coming in with plenty of question marks about why he got hired over,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-auston-matthews-jersey]Authentic Auston Matthews jersey[/url], say,[url=http://www.capitalshockeyshop.com/adidas-alex-ovechkin-jersey]Authentic Alex Ovechkin jersey[/url], Bruce Boudreau.

 it doesn’t make sense that the Flames should have a minus-3 goal difference,[url=http://www.hockeyjetsshop.com/adidas-patrik-laine-jersey]adidas Patrik Laine jersey[/url],The Flames are currently fourth in the NHL in possession but have a surprisingly low shooting percentage (seventh-last in the league) that has almost certainly cost them a number of games. The special teams are wanting, especially the power play. And that doesn’t make sense for a team with as much top-six talent as the Flames have on hand. Even Micheal Ferland seems to have developed into a nice little skill player — check that pass to Dougie Hamilton for the game-winner — and when you have that luxury, especially because they draw more penalties but commit fewer than the league average. (Dig into the numbers and you’ll find that Calgary has a lot of trouble getting their high number of power play shot attempts on net.)

And as to the possession thing,[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-daniel-sedin-jersey]Authentic Daniel Sedin jersey[/url],that’s only because their top pairing (and the 3M line of Mikael Backlund, and Matthew Tkachuk) are beyond dominant, the Flames have five defenseman who have played at least 500 minutes halfway through the season. Only Hamilton and Mark Giordano are north of 50 percent in possession (they are, both pushing 58), and everyone else is relatively pliable. The problem is,[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-henrik-sedin-jersey]adidas Henrik Sedin jersey[/url], and the rest are a smidge below it. So while this club seemingly has an elite process, Michael Frolik, in fact, those five guys are only on the ice for about a third of the game, so that leaves a lot of time in which the Flames aren’t doing anywhere near as well as the overall numbers would lead you to believe.

The roster problems aren’t Gulutzan’s fault, only adding concern that if he turns back into a pumpkin, of course. The Flames have a great top-six forward group and probably the best top pair in the league. After that, you run into issues. (It should also be said that Mike Smith is punching well above his weight, the team’s playoff chances could be toast.) The first two lines are pushing around opponents quite well, the third line is doing okay, and the fourth is getting caved in most nights.

Things may only be complicated by what is perceived as a failed experiment with Jaromir Jagr, who is now reportedly working with Calgary management on an exit strategy despite some solid underlying numbers in his 22 games. This seems more like an issue of both “fit” — the Flames play fast, as does most of the league these days — and “fitness” — Jagr seemingly can’t stay healthy this year — than the sport’s elder statesman being not good enough to play in this league any more. Calgary’s goal difference per 60 rate when Jagr is on the ice at 5-on-5 is among the highest on the team, albeit against lower-end competition. Still, without Jagr, the Flames’ forward depth is just a little more exposed, and that’s not going to help them win games long-term.

Meanwhile, special teams problems are, to me, but this club needs a middling winning streak or three to really cement any sort of playoff position. You have the high-end talent, a coaching issue. Gulutzan’s job is to figure out those problems specifically. That he seemingly can’t or hasn’t yet is an issue. The club just played Game 41 and it’s still not in the playoffs. They’re close and there’s plenty of runway left, so to not get results like this in what seems to be a fairly fixable way may speak to larger limitations.

 it’s tough to get a read on this team. What “should” they be? Probably top-three in their division,Broadly speaking, but it’s also not hard to see why they’re not. Maybe the stick toss is a turning point for them. Maybe it’s not. The point is it was probably necessary because, on paper, this team shouldn’t have to count on a few winning streaks to solidify their playoff bona fides.

 Jan. 26-27 in Tampa.,The only good news was that Auston Matthews was named to the all-star event

The Leafs were their own worst enemy on a night of own goals and giveaways.

Morgan Rielly, got caught on a questionable pinch that led to an Ottawa three-on-one and Tom Pyatt’s game-winning goal at 16:55 of the third., who had tied the game 3-3

Andreas Borgman scored late in the second, after Ottawa opened a two-goal lead on goals from Thomas Chabot and Mike Hoffman., and James van Riemsdyk in the opening minute of the third for Toronto

Less than two minutes after van Riemsdyk’s goal, necessitating Rielly’s equalizer., Gabriel Dumont put Ottawa again

Senators goalie Craig Anderson outdueled his Toronto counterpart, Andersen 32., Frederik Andersen: Anderson faced 47 shots

A Battle of Ontario game that should have tilted very much in Toronto’s favour leaned heavily toward Ottawa for most of the game.

 and the team arrived so late to their Toronto hotel they cancelled their morning skate. Coach Guy Boucher lamented a number of injuries and didn’t express a great deal of confidence in either goalie. The Leafs,Ottawa had lost 8-2 at home to Chicago the night before, meanwhile, seemed to be firing on all cylinders,[url=http://www.mapleleafshockeyshop.com/adidas-auston-matthews-jersey]adidas Auston Matthews jersey[/url], riding 2-0-1 run while holding a commanding points advantage over their provincial rival.

 but failing to convert any of them.,The Leafs swarmed Ottawa to start the first period with Matthews getting three chances in close

Anderson looked to be having the bounceback game the Senators were hoping for after he had given up four goals in less than 30 minutes of action before getting yanked Tuesday night.

 but the Senators had the 1-0 lead after Chabot’s centring pass banked off Roman Polak’s skate and past Andersen.,The Leafs outshot Ottawa 16-12

 but shot wide.,Mitch Marner got a breakaway on the next shift

Toronto had a 32-24 shots lead after 40 minutes, up 2-1., but Ottawa maintained its one-goal lead

Hoffman scored at 1:52 of the second, first on home ice., and Toronto seemed to go through the motions after that until Borgman’s slapshot was redirected by a Senator at 18:10 of the second period — his third goal of the season

The game was of particular interest to about 20 scouts on hand. Calgary, [url=http://www.capitalshockeyshop.com/adidas-alex-ovechkin-jersey]adidas Alex Ovechkin jersey[/url],the New York Rangers, Los Angeles and Columbus — which sent GM Jarmo Kekalainen — doubled up. Typically, between nine and 12 are in attendance at a Leaf game.

The Senators are struggling, and playoff-bound teams are beginning their bargain hunting.,[url=http://www.hockeyjetsshop.com/adidas-patrik-laine-jersey]Authentic Patrik Laine jersey[/url], a shadow of the team that went to the conference final last year

Injuries are a big reason for the Senators’ struggles. They were without forwards Bobby Ryan and Nate Thompson as well as defenceman Mark Borowiecki.

“If we can get players back,[url=http://www.canuckshockeyshop.com/adidas-henrik-sedin-jersey]Authentic Henrik Sedin jersey[/url],” said Boucher. “You can’t expect to lose those big players and play with the same rhythm. Getting those guys back would be huge for us.”, that’s what it’s about for us right now