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USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
The Oshawa Generals hosted the Erie Otters in Game 5 of the OHL Final looking to advance to the Memorial Cup with a win, and they did just that.
After allowing the game’s 1st goal, Oshawa scored six of the next seven en route to a 6-2 win over the Otters.
Oshawa doesn’t have any high profile draft eligible forwards (they’re easier to track on TV) so I tracked Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle for the Generals, as well as Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and 2016 draft eligible Alex DeBrincat off the Otters.
The Generals are a big, powerful team and they don’t have a lot of guys that can drive play up ice and dominate through the neutral zone. Michael Dal Colle is one of the guys they have that can do that, which probably factored into why he started so many shifts outside of the offensive zone despite being the team’s leading scorer (in goals and points).
Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid are Erie’s three best offensive talents. This was an elimination game and Erie trailed for the final 39 minutes. They carried play for much of that time so naturally these three were spoon fed offensive zone starts.
Dal Colle didn’t have as many entry attempts as you’d expect someone with so many zone starts outside of the offensive zone, but he was perfect in his four attempts.
Oshawa is a very big, strong team and DeBrincat is an undersized player who is barely 17 years old. Oshawa’s game plan seemed to be to stand him up at the line and separate him from the puck. They did that well.
Strome failed to gain the line in two of his first three attempts. He then rallied off nine consecutive successful zone entries. He put forth by far the best neutral zone performance I’ve seen from him.
McDavid was once again dominant through the neutral zone. He plays the game at such a high pace that basically forces defenders to back off.
Dal Colle struggled in possession in this game, but when you take into account score effects – Oshawa was defending a lead the final 39 minutes – and that he started 19 of 22 shifts outside the offensive zone it’s hard to expect much more.
DeBrincat wasn’t great through the neutral zone and he was spoon fed offensive zone starts, but his numbers were still impressive in this game. When he was on the ice much of the action was in Oshawa’s end.
Strome was excellent in this game. He created chances almost every shift and was exceptional through the neutral zone.
McDavid had a pretty good game for someone who was ‘shut down’. It didn’t reflect on the scoresheet – he had just one point and was on for a few goals against – but when he was on the ice Erie had a much larger portion of the shot attempts and scoring chances. McDavid was also dominant through the neutral zone. He didn’t get the result he wanted, but he was very good in what was his final game in the OHL.
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