Giordano: Calgary’s diamond in the rough

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When the 2014 Norris Trophy votes were tallied, Duncan Keith came out on top, but one interesting choice received a first-place nod: Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

Some probably snickered at the idea of handing a top vote to a relatively obscure blueliner who only appeared in 64 games (playing on one of the worst teams in the league), but there’s a reason Team Canada’s brass pondered adding him to the Olympic roster: he had an incredible 2013-14 season.

The 30-year-old wowed onlookers of just about any leaning, whether it be in the area of traditional narratives or “advanced stats.”

Giordano almost seemed to will a bad team to be respectable, with his impact on the ice being comically drastic at times, as Tyler Dellow pointed out. Despite facing very tough competition and being put in unfriendly situations (he didn’t get cozy zone starts), Giordano enjoyed great possession stats that only looked more amazing compared to his teammates.

Oh yeah, he also scored 47 points in 64 games, which is a pace of 60 over a full season. His status as the Flames captain combines with those offensive numbers to make him a favorite of “old-school” types while his ability to push the play (even in challenging situations) makes him commendable in the stats community.

Really, the only question that puts a slight damper on things is whether he can be quite as impressive in the future. Giordano has long been respected as an underrated defenseman, but those arguments were often made for him either getting a roster spot or more ice time. Can we expect him to regularly be in elite conversations?

Extra Skater’s numbers imply that he’s been a bit erratic, though regularly useful. Here’s a simplified version of their dashboard stats to give you an idea of the mix:

Season GP G P Corsi For% Corsi Rel% PDO Zone Start% ZS Rel% PK time QoC TOI% QoT TOI%
2010-2011 82 8 43 53.40% 0.027 99.1 52.70% -0.90% 36.50% 28.80% 27.00%
2011-2012 61 9 27 47.90% 0.007 100.9 52.60% 0.041 43.20% 29.00% 27.50%
2012-2013 47 4 15 47.50% -0.30% 98.5 40.30% -7.00% 53.10% 29.40% 28.30%
2013-2014 64 14 47 53.30% 0.103 99.6 43.10% -8.70% 56.10% 29.60% 29.10%

Overall, Giordano looks like he can be trusted to at least be good-to-very-good. He’s quietly become a dependable point producer, even if he may slow down from last season’s blistering pace. Even if he’s not the possession demon he was last season, he can probably at least survive in difficult situations or exploit beneficial ones. In other words, the hype surrounding Giordano seems largely reasonable.

It’s uncertain that he’ll be worthy of Norris consideration as he legitimately was last season, but the Flames will take all the quality players they can get … and Giordano has a strong chance to be the Flames’ best player (or at least among their best players) for some time.

If he comes anywhere close to last season’s work, don’t bat an eye if the Norris buzz only builds.

The Buzzer: Benn vs. Benn, poor get poorer

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Line of the Night: The St. Louis Blues’ superb top trio.

Seemingly every night, at least one of the NHL’s best scoring lines seems to make its case as the best. It’s getting to the point where any off night is surprising, which seems almost impossible in a league where it’s still (allegedly?) tough to score on a nightly basis.

In Tuesday’s case, the Blues’ red-hot trio of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko added to the Oilers’ profound miseries by triggering an 8-3 stomping.

Schwartz scored one goal and three assists, while both Schenn and Tarasenko enjoyed ridiculous two-goal, two-assists nights. Schwartz and Schenn both are at 30 points in 2017-18, while “The Tank” is rolling with 26. Tarasenko almost had a hat trick today, but settled for the Gordie Howe:

Highlight of the Night: Jamie Benn vs. Jordie Benn, just in time for American Thanksgiving.

(They’re Canadians, but still.)

Shared sadness: The Canadiens lost a hard-fought game to the Stars as the 3-1 margin of defeat was inflated by an empty-netter, while the Oilers were just humiliated, yet both teams really needed wins and neither even got a standings point for their efforts. Times are getting tense for two Canadian franchises that came into 2017-18 with high hopes.

Brendan Gallagher‘s reaction to the empty-netter says it all:

Factoid of the Night: Clearly, it’s totally Connor McDavid‘s fault.

Scores

Canucks 5, Flyers 2

Blues 8, Oilers 3

Stars 3, Canadiens 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

On fire vs. fireable: Blues humiliate Oilers

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If you judge a person or sports team by how they react to their backs being up against the wall, then the Edmonton Oilers were complete failures on Tuesday.

Whether you place most of the blame on Connor McDavid (bad) or management (fair), the bottom line is that a response was needed, as people are already doing the math to wonder if the Oilers can dig themselves out of an early hole with a huge rally.

Instead, we saw the same story tonight, only it was sadder and more dramatic. The St. Louis Blues absolutely dismantled the Oilers by a score of 8-3, and that deficit wasn’t an unfair depiction of what happened on the ice. The red-hot Blues absolutely dismantled the Oilers, seemingly scoring at will.

Just check Paul Stastny‘s body language after this beautiful goal; it almost seemed like the veteran forward felt squeamish about the carnage going on in Edmonton’s zone.

Again, it was the same story with McDavid straining to create quite a few chances, even while dealing with an unspecified sickness (note: sickness not a joke about the poor team around him, this time).

It seems fitting that the same few Oilers contributed at least something to the cause, as McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were involved in Edmonton’s three scores.

This loss encapsulated a lot of the themes of this season for Edmonton: not enough support, a cratering structure, and goaltending Cam Talbot having a miserable night.

Morale in Edmonton is, uh, low.

Now, none of this should take away from the West-leading Blues’ side, as they flexed their muscles once again. Really, the main debates surrounded if the Blues were the best in the West by a large or merely a slim margin.

It was a banner night for one of the best lines in the league in Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Tarasenko almost had a hat trick, but will settle for the Gordie Howe variety, as he dropped the gloves with Matt Benning.

Fittingly, the Oilers didn’t even win that battle, either.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fight video: Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Matthew Benning

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Vladimir Tarasenko earns the nickname “Tank” because he’s a big, hoss-like scorer and because it matches up well with his name.

He showed a different kind of firepower on Tuesday, though, as he took exception to a Matthew Benning hit and decided to fight the Edmonton Oilers defenseman. The bout happened even as the Oilers seemed like they were getting a precious scoring chance, but the crowd in St. Louis was riled up mainly to see the superstar drop the gloves.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the first battle for “The Tank.” According to Hockey Fights’ listings, Tarasenko fought once in 2015-16 and another time in 2014-15, while also dropping the gloves once in the KHL.

(This is his first fight against someone not named Ryan, as he exchanged fisticuffs with Ryan Kesler and Ryan Ellis in his other NHL fights. I mean, unless Matthew Benning’s middle name is Ryan?)

So far, the Oilers haven’t been showing as much fight as Tarasenko, as the Blues currently hold a 3-0 lead and chased Cam Talbot. Read more about what’s been a tough night for goalies so far here.

Tuesday has not been kind to goalies

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There are three games on Tuesday, yet we’ve already seen two goalies benched for poor play.

If variety is important to you … hey, at least the two situations were different, albeit with some regrettable moments of pucks going into nets.

The most depressing probably came during Tuesday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues, which you can watch on NBCSN right now.

Now, you can justifiably hang a lot of the Oilers’ struggles on poor management from GM Peter Chiarelli, yet it’s also true that teams/coaches/general managers often see their reputations rise and fall with the play of their goalies. Cam Talbot has already been struggling in 2017-18 after playing outstanding hockey – and a ton of games – last season, but tonight serves as one of his shortest and most troubling efforts.

(And Talbot gets whatever is the opposite of bonus points for languishing while angst is nearing a fever pitch in Edmonton.)

Talbot made it through just 7:35 of ice time on Tuesday, allowing two goals on just three shots before Todd McLellan understandably pulled the plug. This Dmitrij Jaskin goal was a real soul-crusher for the reeling Oilers:

Credit Laurent Brossoit for playing very well in relief of Talbot, at least as of this writing. But this isn’t what the Oilers wanted to see. (Brossoit just allowed a goal, but he has been sturdy overall with a lot of time left in this game).

Negative night for Neuvirth

Compared to Talbot, Michal Neuvirth had a long night for the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, it was a long night in more ways than one, as Neuvirth struggled against the unexpectedly potent Vancouver Canucks.

Neuvirth got the hook after giving up four goals on 22 shots over 34:26 of game time. Some of that’s on the defense in front of him, as Philly can’t be happy to give up so many chances against a Vancouver team that still has something to prove.

So, this leaves one burning question: will any other goalies get benched tonight? As it is, two out of three is quite bad. Sorry Meatloaf.