Best and Worst of the Week: Dec. 22-28

This is the inaugural edition of a weekly article highlighting the best and worst of the NHL. It will be player-focused and will utilize basic numbers with a slight inclusion of advanced metrics as needed. The goal is to track production through the ups-and-downs of a season as they accumulate over a full season.

The Best

Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

Leon Drasaitl
Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) during the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena. (Photo By: Andy Martin Jr)
  • Two games: Dec. 23 vs Montreal (W), Dec. 27 at Winnipeg (L)
  • 1 G, 4 A, 5 P, +4, 1 shorthanded goal (SHG), 5 shots (SOG), 20 percent shooting

Of Draisaitl’s four assists, two were primary. When he was on the ice, the Oilers were strong at 5-on-5, scoring two goals while allowing none. They also generated 12 scoring chances while allowing seven. In Edmonton’s win against Montreal, the Oilers had an 80 percent Corsi with Draisaitl on the ice. It appears as though he has found chemistry with linemates Ryan Strome and Jujhar Khaira. This is good news for an Edmonton team that is attempting to climb up the Western Conference standings.

Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

  • Two games: Dec. 23 vs Buffalo (W), Dec. 27 vs Montreal (W)
  • 3 G, 1 A, 4 P, +4, 1 power play goal (PPG), 1 game-winning goal (GWG), 9 SOG, 33.3 percent shooting

Carolina’s top line of Aho, Jordan Staal, and Teuvo Teravainen continues to produce, with 10 points between the trio over the past week. Of Aho’s four points, two occurred at 5-on-5, one goal and his lone assist. The Hurricanes were above 75 percent Corsi and Fenwick in each game with Aho on the ice and didn’t allow any goals at 5-on-5 while scoring three. Furthermore, the team allowed just a single high danger scoring chance at 5-on-5 while generating 12. That top line has been a major reason for the Hurricanes winning six of their last seven games as they make a push to get into playoff contention.

Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider
New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
  • Two starts: Dec. 23 vs Chicago (W), Dec. 27 vs Detroit (W)
  • 2 goals allowed (GA), 70/72 saves, .972 save percentage, 1.00 goals against average (GAA)

Schneider has been on a roll lately, not losing a game in regulation since Dec. 8 against Columbus. Since then, he has not allowed more than three goals in any start. In each of his two starts over the past week, he allowed just one goal and had a save percentage of at least .969. Both goals he allowed occurred at 5-on-5 as he stopped all 14 shots he faced in 13 minutes on the penalty kill. He also had a perfect save percentage against the 10 high danger chances he faced.

The Worst

Alexander Radulov, Dallas Stars

  • Two games: Dec. 23 vs Nashville (W), Dec. 27 at Minnesota (L)
  • 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, -4, 2 PIM, 4 S

Radulov has produced well since signing with the Stars, but is in the midst of a slump with just one goal and two points in his past five games. In his two games this past week, the team struggled at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice. In that situation, the Stars failed to score any goals while allowing two. The lack of production was not for a lack of chances, however, as the team controlled 52.9 percent of shots and 56 percent of scoring chances in the two games when he was on the ice.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators
STOCKHOLM, SWE – NOVEMBER 7: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
  • Two games: Dec. 23 at Florida (L), Dec. 27 at Boston (L)
  • 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, -3, 2 PIM, 6 S, 27:38 TOI

Realistically, Karlsson’s struggles have not exclusively been his fault. The Senators controlled well above 50 percent of shots at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice the past two games. Karlsson’s issue is his decision-making with the puck, with a minus-two turnover margin at 5-on-5 in those games. This includes a season-high four giveaways against the Panthers. Ottawa also failed to score at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice but allowed three goals.

Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Two starts: Dec. 23 vs Anaheim (L), Dec. 27 vs Columbus (W)
  • 7 GA, 39/46 saves, .848 save percentage, 4.74 GAA

Murray’s two recent starts are reflective of his season thus far as he has struggled in his role as a full-time starter for the Penguins. His numbers over the two starts could have been worse had he not been pulled in the second period against the Ducks after allowing three goals on 13 shots. At 5-on-5, Murray was at his worst, with an .837 save percentage compared to an expected save percentage of .921. A reason for this was his four high danger goals allowed on nine chances, giving him just a .556 save percentage in those situations.

*All stats came from NHL, Corsica, Natural Stat Trick, Hockey-Reference, and Hockey Viz