USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
After losing their semi-final games to USA and Finland respectively, Canada and Switzerland squared off for the second time of the tournament with the Bronze medal on the line.
For Canada I tracked numbers for draft eligibles Jansen Harkins, Mathew Barzal, and Mitch Stephens, while I did the same for undersized draft eligible forward Denis Malgin of the Swiss.
Score: 5-2 Canada.
Denis Malgin started just two of 16 shifts in the offensive zone. He’s a good skater who is elusive in space, and excellent through the neutral zone, so it makes sense that he was relied upon to drive play up ice for the Swiss.
Jansen Harkins played primarily against Malgin’s line at even-strength, which explains the opposite zone start numbers.
Mathew Barzal and Mitch Stephens were asked to do the heavy lifting for Team Canada. They are certainly capable of doing so, as Barzal is excellent through the neutral zone, while Stephens is one of the best two-way forwards on the team.
After taking one glance at these numbers it’s not hard to see why Malgin started the majority of his shifts outside of the offensive zone. He’s a God when it comes to gaining the line with possession.
Harkins didn’t start a lot of shifts outside the offensive zone, but showed that he is quite capable of carrying the puck into the offensive zone safely.
Barzal was dominant through the neutral zone from his first shift – literally – until his last. He’s an excellent skater, is very patient and possesses very good puck skills, which makes him very tough to defend in space. The results can attest to that.
Stephens had a couple carry-ins, and also had an attempt broken up when he took a big hit at the line.
All things considered it was hardly a poor effort from Malgin. He started the majority of his shifts outside of the offensive zone, and was playing against a much deeper, better team. It’s tough to come out even or better in possession under those circumstances.
It was by no means a dominant effort from Harkins given his zone starts, but he played a solid game. He did well in possession, showed the ability to drive play up ice, and he also picked up a goal early in the game.
Barzal didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was excellent in this game. He was a force through the neutral zone, and drove possession at a high clip despite starting the majority of his shifts in his own zone.
Stephens’ numbers were lesser than Barzal’s in terms of shot attempts and zone entries, but he was still good in both aspects. It was a good final effort from Canada’s captain.
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