USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
The No. 1 seeded Brandon Wheat Kings were in Edmonton for Game 5 on Wednesday night (2-3-2 format) looking to win their fourth consecutive game and put away the Oil Kings.
While on paper Brandon is the much better team, this game – like most of the series – was a lot closer than you’d expect. Edmonton actually controlled play for much of the game, but couldn’t convert on their many of chances, and eventually lost a heartbreaker in double overtime.
As was the case in Game 4, I tracked draft eligibles Ivan Provorov and Braylon Shmyr as well as John Quenneville (New Jersey) off Brandon, while I kept my eyes on forward Andrew Koep for Edmonton.
Final score: 3-2 Brandon
Ivan Provorov is Brandon’s best offensive defenseman, so he was given plenty of offensive zone starts. He’s solid in his own zone, too, and fellow draft eligible Ryan Pilon’s minutes were extremely limited due to injury, so Provorov doubled shifted at times, and saw plenty of starts in his own zone as a result. Edmonton carrying play for the majority of the game surely factored in as well.
John Quenneville started many of his early shifts in the offensive zone, but was relied upon in a more defensive role as the game went on. His defensive zone starts went up when linemate Braylon Shmyr was either benched/injured in the latter half of regulation.
Andrew Koep and his linemates played primarily against John Quenneville’s unit. His shifts were somewhat limited in overtime, and it seemed like Edmonton wanted to protect their young player when their season was on the line.
As was the case in Game 4, both teams seemed content dumping the puck in as opposed to attempting carry-ins. I found that kind of strange considering Brandon didn’t want the puck to go anywhere near Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh) given his puck handling abilities.
There were not a lot of zone entry attempts for the players I tracked, but John Quenneville in particular did some nice neutral zone work in his limited attempts.
Ivan Provorov’s defense pairing was almost always matched up with John Quenneville’s line as a 5-man unit, so their numbers are quite similar. Provorov had more zone starts, but this was a low-event game so the total shot attempts were the same as Quenneville’s. Not to mention, on a few occasions Quenneville didn’t start a shift but jumped over the boards for a quick change just a few seconds after a faceoff.
Braylon Shmyr was on a line with Quenneville so their numbers were identical early, but Shmyr didn’t play in the latter half of this game.
Andrew Koep’s line once again played primarily against Quenneville’s, however, this time Koep was getting more offensive zone starts than defensive zone starts.
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