Tyler Toffoli

Stunning numbers through Round 2 of Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Throughout the season we have been taking an occasional look at some stunning numbers from around the NHL.

Today, we take a look at some stunning numbers from throughout the first two rounds of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

This week’s numbers include Brent Burns‘ incredible workload, Carolina’s struggling special teams, and Jaden Schwartz‘s weird season. 

Brent Burns’ minutes keep increasing

We mentioned this after Round 1 and it’s worth mentioning again because the workload the San Jose Sharks are throwing at Burns is pretty remarkable.

Through the Sharks’ first 14 games the Norris Trophy finalist has already played 409 minutes, which is an incredible 53 minutes more than any other player in the league this postseason (via NHL PR). Since the NHL started time-on-ice numbers that is the 16th highest total for any player through their team’s first 14 playoff games. Only three players have exceeded that number since 2010 (Alex Pietrangelo in 2016, Drew Doughty in 2014, and Duncan Keith in 2015).

As impressive as Burns’ ice time numbers are this postseason, what is truly stunning is look at the minutes Chris Pronger used to play for the St. Louis Blues. During the 1999 playoffs he played an almost unbelievable 466 minutes in 13 games. The only reason it isn’t totally unbelievable? Two years later he played 475 minutes through the Blues’ first 14 playoff games.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Carolina’s special teams are still struggling 

The Hurricanes have looked great this postseason during 5-on-5 play, dominating possession, playing with speed, and looking like a franchise that is on the rise and ready to position itself as a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future.

Their run to the Eastern Conference Final so far has been impressive.

Even more impressive when you consider they are getting next to nothing from their special teams units.

Through Game 1 of the ECF series the Hurricanes’ power play is converting on just 12.2 percent of its chances with the man-advantage. Among the 86 teams that have appeared in at least 12 playoff games since the start of the 2005-06 season, that number is among the 12 worst.

Their penalty kill is even worse.

After giving up two quick power play goals to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, the Hurricanes have successfully killed off just 73.2 percent of their power plays in the playoffs. Among the same sampling of teams mentioned above, that number is the fifth worst.

Carolina’s power play wasn’t great during the regular season, but the penalty kill was among the league’s 10 best. It has not had anywhere near as much success in the playoffs. Part of that is due to getting seven games against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in Round 1, a matchup that will damage any team’s PK success rate, but they have also give up five power play goals in the five games since then.

It is a testament to how dominant they have been during 5-on-5 play that they have still been able to win eight out of their first 12 playoff games while getting so little production from their special teams units.

Jaden Schwartz’s roller coaster season 

Schwartz could not buy a goal during the regular season.

Among forwards that recorded at least 160 shots on goal, Schwartz’s 6 percent shooting percentage was the third worst in the NHL ahead of only Buffalo’s Evan Rodrigues (5.3 percent) and Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli (5.8 percent). For a player that had never shot lower than 10 percent in his career, and only once lower than 12 percent, it was a horribly unlucky season for the Blues’ forward.

His luck has changed dramatically in the playoffs.

Entering Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday, Schwartz has already scored eight goals in 13 games for the Blues (after just 11 goals in 69 games during the regular season).

He has done so by scoring on 22.9 percent of shots, the second highest shooting percentage in the league among forwards with at least 20 shots in the playoffs.

The thing is, if you combine his regular season and playoff numbers together he is looking at exactly an 82-game sampling, or what would be a full regular season.

In those 82 games he has 19 goals on 218 shots. Still a notch below his normal career average of around 23 goals per 82 games, but far closer than his final regular season numbers. He probably wasn’t bad during the regular season, just a little unlucky. With more games added to his sampling for the year, the percentages started to regress in his favor.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning host Kings on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Tampa leads the NHL with 47 wins and 98 points this season. Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL with 100 points (T-career high, set last year) and a career-high 70 assists. Both the Lightning and Kucherov are on historic paces this season

TB is the first team in NHL history to win at least 47 of its first 62 games of a season. They are looking to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy this season. The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and win the Stanley Cup was the Blackhawks in 2013, and before that was the Detroit Red Wings in 2008

Kucherov is on pace to hit 92 assists and 132 points this season. The last player with 90-plus assists was Joe Thornton in 2006-07 (92). Kucherov would become the first player with 130+ points since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux (161 points) and Jaromir Jagr (149 points) both did so. 

The Kings are on a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) and sit in last place in the Western Conference with 52 points. They are having problems in all areas of the game right now – offense defense, the power play and penalty kill

Simply put, the Kings have struggled to score this year. They rank 30th in the NHL averaging 2.34 goals/game. In a season where around half the league is scoring three or more goals per game, it’s no shock that the Kings sit in the basement of the Western Conference.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning
Where: Amalie Arena
When: Monday, Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Kings-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

KINGS
Alex IafalloAnze KopitarDustin Brown
Ilya KovalchukJeff CarterTyler Toffoli
Brendan LeipsicAdrian Kempe – Jonny Brodzinski
Kyle CliffordTrevor LewisAustin Wagner

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty
Dion PhaneufMatt Roy
Paul LaDueSean Walker

Starting goalie: Jack Campbell

LIGHTNING
Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosJ.T. Miller
Tyler JohnsonBrayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex KillornAnthony CirelliYanni Gourde
Adam ErneCedric Paquette – Mathieu Joseph

Victor HedmanDan Girardi
Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak
Braydon CoburnAnton Stralman

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and Jim Fox (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones.

Flyers’ winning streak ends in dramatic fashion

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With a minute remaining in Thursday’s contest against the Los Angeles Kings, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers would finally see their eight-game winning streak end.

It ultimately did, but not in regulation. Jakub Voracek scored the tying goal with just 17.6 seconds left, sending the contest into overtime. The overtime period featured plenty of drama, including a tremendous save by Anthony Stolarz, but the game required a shootout.

And even the shootout was pretty exciting.

For one thing, Claude Giroux made some beautiful moves to score in the shootout, and Philly held a brief lead. It looked like the Flyers would extend the streak to nine games, but then an Adrian Kempe shot that at first seemed to hit the post actually was a goal. Ultimately, Los Angeles won the shootout, earning a 3-2 (SO) victory, with Drew Doughty jawing at the Flyers.

Maybe it feels a little silly for a Kings team that is destined to hit the links by April, yet considering all that late drama, it was pretty understandable.

Here are some of the big moments.

1. Voracek’s goal. Jonathan Quick didn’t really stand a chance.

2. Stolarz save, even without his stick.

3. Tyler Toffoli‘s shootout-winner.

The Kings don’t have much to look forward to beyond getting answers around the trade deadline, and the Flyers still face such a steep climb that it’s tough to imagine a full run to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but this was an exciting way for Philly to see its exhilarating run end.

And, hey, the point streak is still going.

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.

The Buzzer: Hart wins seventh straight; Kempe comes up big

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Three stars

1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

Name a hotter goaltender in the NHL right now? Here’s a hint: there isn’t one.

Hart now has seven straight wins and the Flyers now have won eight straight after he stopped 41 shots in a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

We could go on and on about how good Hart has been during this stretch, but this save from tonight basically sums it up.

2. Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

Kempe scored twice, tying the game on two occasions, including the 3-3 goal with a minute left in the third period to send game to overtime.

From there, Kempe played the role set up man on the game-winning goal from Tyler Toffoli, capping a three-point night in which he left his mark and then some. The Kings needed the win after giving up a 2-1 lead in the third period on Saturday against New York’s other team, the Islanders.

3. Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs fans might clamor for Jake Muzzin here. Sure, he scored his first goal in those blue threads, but it was rookie Johnsson’s four-point night that stood out more.

The 24-year-old had two goals and two helpers, including the game-winner in the second period. He also assisted on Muzzin’s goal.

Muzzin had his first three points with the Leafs, scoring a goal and adding an assist.

Highlights of the night

Kempe’s goal after Ilya Kovalchuk‘s dirty pass:

Three goals, 71 seconds:

Factoids

Scores

Maple Leafs 6, Ducks 1
Kings 4, Rangers 3 (OT)
Flyers 2, Canucks 1
Stars 5, Coyotes 4


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Muzzin trade should be the beginning of Kings’ teardown

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When the Los Angeles Kings traded defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday evening they took an important step toward doing something that was probably a year or two overdue — turning the page on their past glory and starting to finally look toward the future.

It’s time. It’s beyond time. Waiting any longer would have put this team in an even deeper hole that would have taken even longer to get out of.

Since winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014 the Kings have been stuck in neutral in the NHL’s worst possible place — the middle ground — somewhere between a contender and a lottery team, desperately trying to squeeze out whatever is left of an aging core by adding more aging pieces to it (Dion Phaneuf, Ilya Kovalchuk, Carl Hagelin, etc).

Yes, they made the playoffs twice since that last championship.

They also managed to win only a single game in those two appearances, losing in five games to a Sharks team that went on to win the Western Conference in 2016, then getting swept by the Vegas Golden Knights a year ago in a series that wasn’t anywhere near as close as the scoreboard. The two teams were playing a different sport for the four games, and while the Kings didn’t give up much, they never even seemed like they were close to scoring or were capable of doing anything to make Marc-Andre Fleury sweat even a little bit.

[Related: Maple Leafs bolster back end, trade for Muzzin]

In between those two emphatic first-round exits were two non-playoff seasons. More than halfway through the 2018-19 season they are tumbling toward another spring that will be spent at home.

Big picture, this has been an alarmingly mediocre team for going on five years now. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Kings are 17th in regular season wins, which is about as middle of the pack as a team can get.

The only two teams with fewer than the one postseason win the Kings have during that stretch are the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, and they only reason they have won fewer is because they haven’t actually made the playoffs.

It has become increasingly clear that there is a sizable gap between the Kings roster and the way it plays and the way the rest of the NHL is built. That gap is only widening, and the only way it’s going to get fixed is if management makes the painful decision to take a blowtorch to the roster.

Trading the 29-year-old Muzzin and his remaining contract ($4 million per year through the end of next season) is a start.

It can not be the end, and based on what general manager Rob Blake said after the trade it likely will not be.

“I don’t want to get into specifics of players, but we are actively looking at making moves for the future of the organization, yes,” said Blake, via the Los Angeles Times, when asked about trading more veteran players.

Quite honestly, there probably isn’t a veteran player on the roster that should be untouchable. Given that the only two key unrestricted free agents they have are Hagelin and Nate Thompson it seems reasonable to conclude that big-name, core players are part of those discussions.

The Kings are in a pretty dire situation here where they are not only old (the third oldest team in the league), but they have those players signed to long-term contracts. Looking at their current roster they have nine players already over the age of 30, with six of them age 33 or older. Almost all of those players are signed for at least the next two seasons at pretty sizable salary cap hits.

Kovalchuk, 35, has two years remaining on his current deal that pays him more than $6 million per season. Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, both in their age 34 seasons, are signed for three more seasons after this one at a combined salary cap hit of more than $11 million per season (though Carter’s contract significantly reduces in terms of actual dollars because it was so front-loaded when it was signed).

All of this is going to make a rebuild even more complicated because they don’t have a ton to trade.

It seems highly unlikely that Anze Kopitar or Drew Doughty would ever go anywhere, not only because of their importance to the franchise but also because of their contracts (both of which contain no-move clauses).

Dumping Brown, Phaneuf and probably Kovalchuk would probably require significant amounts of retained salary, or perhaps even giving up something of value to dump what is left of those salaries.

The real value is probably going to be in trading players like Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez.

At 26 years old Toffoli is actually one of the “young” players on the Kings’ roster, and even though he is having a down year is still at least capable of being a 20-goal, 45-point winger. He is not a foundational piece or someone you would ever center a rebuild around, but a contender would absolutely find value in him especially at his $4.6 million salary cap hit the next through the end of next season.

Martinez is in a similar position in that he is still very good and has an attractive contract. There is no reason to think he could not fetch the Kings a package similar to what the Kings received from Toronto for Muzzin. Or at least close to it.

Then there is the elephant in the room that is starting goalie Jonathan Quick.

Quick is another one of those cornerstone pieces, along with Kopitar and Doughty, that helped bring two Stanley Cups to Los Angeles, and Kings fans should be forever grateful for that. But he’s also a player whose perceived value has probably almost always exceeded his actual on-ice value. He’s been great at times, and in the brightest spotlight when all eyes were on him. And that matters. But he’s also been just average at a lot of other times, and that matters, too.

The former always overshadowed the latter, and that still may be the case today.

He is 33 years old, has four years remaining on his contract, and given all of that is probably closer to the end of his career than his peak years. Given the potential enormity of this overhaul, it would probably be in their best interest to see if they can find a taker for that contract right now because they’re not going to be in a position to win in the coming seasons.

It might be painful, but it also might be necessary.

The Kings have been mediocre long enough. Now it’s time to take a step or two back because it is the only way they can actually move forward as an organization.

Trading Muzzin, a popular core player that helped win championships and was still signed beyond this season, was a start. It can not be where they stop.

More: PHT Power Rankings: 10 people that will impact the NHL playoff race

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.