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USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
After dropping their opening games to Oshawa and Quebec respectively, the Rimouski Oceanic and Kelowna Rockets squared off looking for their 1st win of the tournament.
Kelowna jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and, though Rimouski was able to make it interesting for a little bit, never gave up the lead en route to a 7-3 win.
For the Rockets I tracked Oilers prospect Leon Draisaitl as well as draft eligible forward Nick Merkely, while I kept my eyes on Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier for Rimouski.
Nick Merkley and Leon Draisaitl played on the same line in this game. Kelowna seemed hell bent on getting those two away from Frederik Gauthier so they essentially started in whatever zone Kelowna was in when Gauthier left the ice. Both have the ability to drive play up ice and produce offense so I don’t think the Rockets were overly concerned about that duo starting the majority of their shifts outside of the offensive zone.
Gauthier started a lot more shifts in the offensive zone as the game went on. Rimouski was down for almost the entire game and Gauthier is one of their best players so naturally he started more in the offensive zone while the Oceanic were trailing.
Merkley didn’t have many entry attempts because Draisaitl is the driver on their line, however, Merkely did show the ability to gain the line with possession in a small sample.
As per usual Draisaitl was a beast through the neutral zone. He’s not a burner but he gets around the ice better than most give him credit for and because of his puck skills and strength he’s very tough to stop.
I didn’t count any entry attempts for Gauthier. The Oceanic are a big, strong team and Gauthier doesn’t ooze speed/puck skills so often when he gained center he would just dump the puck in.
There were 11 power plays in this game so the shot attempt numbers were a little lower than you’d expect to see from top players.
Merkley had a fantastic game scoring a couple goals and creating some glorious chances in the process, but he came out a little less than even in possession. He started more shifts in the defensive zone than offensive zone, though, so finishing almost 50% with three points is pretty impressive.
Draisaitl had a couple shifts away from Merkley throughout the game, and took on some heavier minutes, which shows in the numbers. Draisaitl still tallied three points, dominated through the neutral zone and came out close to 50% in possession despite starting just five of 17 shifts in the offensive zone.
Gauthier really struggled in this game. He started quite a few shifts in his own zone and struggled in the dot – he won 12/29 draws – which led to some shot attempts immediately after the puck was dropped. Rimouski also dumped the puck in a lot and failed to retreive those pucks on most occasions, which allowed Kelowna to grab the puck and take it the other way.
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