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Scott Cullen

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A Calgary defenceman gets in the way like no one else, Dallas’ top line dominates, Johnny T, lineup news, Fantasy tips and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.

HEROES

Kris Russell – The Flames defenceman had a pair of assists and blocked 15 shots while playing a career-high 32:22 in a 4-3 shootout win at Boston. The Bruins player most affected was Reilly Smith, who had five shots blocked during the game and while he was on for 66.7% of shot attempts when on the ice against Russell, Smith was on for 56.3% of the unblocked shot attempts.

Over the past two seasons, Russell has blocked more shots than anyone, and it’s not really close.

 

BLOCKED SHOTS, 2013-2015

 
PLAYER TEAM BLOCKS GP BLOCKS/GAME
 Kris Russell Calgary 419 130 3.22
John Carlson  Washington 338 148 2.28
Josh Gorges  Buffalo 325 112 2.90
Roman Josi  Nashville 325  138 2.36
Andrei Markov  Montreal  317  146 2.17
Andrew MacDonald  Philadelphia  310  130 2.38
Shea Weber  Nashville  307  145 2.12
Brooks Orpik  Washington  305  138 2.21
Dan Girardi  N.Y. Rangers  304  144 2.11
Alex Pietrangelo  St. Louis  301  145 2.08
 

Stars top line – Dallas wingers Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves barely left the offensive zone against Florida, both one for 17 shot attempts for and one against (94.4%), while centre Jason Spezza was strong too (21 shot attempts for, 4 against).

John Tavares – The Islanders centre picked up a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win at Nashville, giving him 16 points (7 G, 9 A) in the past 11 games, enough to move into a tied for the scoring lead with 67 points in 66 games.

ZEROES

Blues big guns – Alexander Steen, David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo were on the ice for all three goals against in a 3-1 loss at Philadelpha.

Deryk Engelland – Being pressed into a role beyond his capability since Mark Giordano was injured, Engelland was on for three shot attempts for and 24 against (11.1%) in a 4-3 shootout win at Boston. Flames forward Drew Shore wasn’t much better (5 shot attempts for, 27 against, 15.6%). 

Kari Lehtonen – Allowed three goals on 14 shots, before getting pulled, in Dallas’ 4-3 shootout win at Florida.

LINEUP NEED TO KNOW

Alex Ovechkin – The league’s leading goal-scorer, who is tied for the points lead, is out with a lower-body injury, so the Capitals went with a top line of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota.

Jeff Petry – Played a season-high 26:25 in Montreal’s 4-3 shootout loss at Los Angeles. 

Dan Ellis – Called up with Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya hurt, Ellis stopped 29 of 32 shots in his first start of the season for the Florida Panthers.

Canucks getting healthy – RW Alex Burrows, RW Zack Kassian and D Alexander Edler all returned to the Vancouver lineup for a 3-2 shootout loss at Arizona. Kassian rejoined the Sedins, while Burrows skated with Shawn Matthias and Chris Higgins.

SHORT SHIFTS

Flames D Dennis Wideman recorded a pair of assists, and has 10 assists in the past 11 games…Lightning C Steven Stamkos contributed a couple of assists in a 4-2 win over Toronto; he has 15 points (9 G, 6 A) in the past 14 games…Panthers D Dmitry Kulikov had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in a 4-3 shootout loss to Dallas…Canadiens C David Desharnais had a pair of assists in a 4-3 shootout loss at Los Angeles; he has 17 points (4 G, 13 A) in the past 17 games…Bruins D Zdeno Chara had a dominant possession game (34 shot attempts for, 8 against, 81.0%) against Calgary despite starting 42.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone…Wild C Erik Haula had a strong possession showing (14 shot attempts for, 3 against, 82.4%), despite 33.3% offensive zone starts, in a 2-1 win at Washington…Flyers G Steve Mason stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 3-1 win against St. Louis…Wild G Devan Dubnyk turned aside 24 of 25 shots in a 2-1 win at Washington.

FANTASY FOCUS

A few players to keep an eye on:

Alexander Wennberg – The Blue Jackets rookie has one points in the past seven games and has gone 16 games without a goal, but he’s playing first-unit power play and has played more than 16 minutes in seven straight games, hitting a career-high 20:51 last game.

Andrej Nestrasil – Getting first unit power play time in Carolina and has 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in the past 10 games. Sometimes a team falling out of playoff contention gives young players an opportunity to shine.

Zach Bogosian – Has only two points in nine games with the Sabres since coming over from the Jets, but is getting opportunity, playing 27 minutes per game, including first-unit power play time.

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.comwww.puckalytics.com, and www.naturalstattrick.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca