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Scott Cullen

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A tough break for St. Louis, Kuznetsov and Markov with five-pointers, hat tricks for Boedker and Ward and lots more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.

The St. Louis Blues are off to a solid starts, with a 5-2-1 record, but they have run into injury problems early, most notably a broken ankle suffered in practice last week by left winger Jaden Schwartz, an injury that will keep Schwartz out of the lineup for three months.

Even though Schwartz had yet to find the net in seven games this season, this is a significant loss. Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, Schwartz has 123 points in 162 games, ranking 47th in the league over that time. 

During those two-plus seasons, Schwartz was also a strong possession performer, with the Blues controlling 54.6% of even-strength shot attempts with Schwartz on the ice.

What makes this more challenging for the Blues is that they are already missing a couple of quality forwards, as centre Paul Stastny is out with a broken foot and left winger Patrik Berglund is on the shelf while he recovers from shoulder surgery. Effectively, St. Louis is working without three top nine forwards.

The leading candidates for more ice time in an offensive role should be wingers Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie.

"Long-term, if I was a player that was a three- or four-year player now, especially guys like Jaskin or Rattie … these type of players, I would look at this as an unbelievable opportunity because they're going to absorb Jaden's minutes," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Jaskin, a 22-year-old who has 14 goals and 22 poitns in 82 career NHL games, played a career-high 20:46 against the Islanders Saturday, in St. Louis’ first game without Schwartz. 

Rattie is also 22 and has two assists in 14 career NHL games, but he’s been able to produce in the AHL. He had four goals and seven points in three games this season, and scored 52 goals in 131 AHL games in his first two pro seasons.

That’s going to be a drop off for the Blues, but there is an opportunity for those young players to step up.

This is what we call a silver lining.

From weekend action:

HEROES

Evgeny Kuznetsov – Washington’s second-year pivot accumulated five points (3 G, 2 A), with nine shot attempts (7 SOG) in Friday’s 7-4 win at Edmonton. With nine points in his last three games, Kuznetsov is one point off the scoring lead.

Andrei Markov – The veteran Canadiens defenceman accumulated five points (1 G, 4 A) in Friday’s 7-2 rout at Buffalo, then added an assist against Toronto Saturday, giving him 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in nine games on the season.

Mikkel Boedker – Put up a hat trick in Arizona’s 4-1 win at Ottawa Saturday. That gives the 25-year-old four goals in eight games this season, while playing a career-high 19:08 per game.

Joel Ward – The San Jose winger buried three goals in a 5-2 win vs. Carolina Saturday. He now has eight points (5 G, 3 A) in the past seven games.

Jonathan Quick – Had a 40-save shutout in Friday’s 3-0 win over Carolina, and then stopped 26 of 28 shots in Sunday’s win at Edmonton. He has a .923 save percentage in seven starts.

ZEROES

Travis Hamonic – Despite starting more of his shifts in the offensive zone in Friday’s loss to Boston, the Islanders defenceman had poor possession stats (12 for, 24 against, 33.3 SAT%) and was on for four even-strength goals against.

Corey Perry – Anaheim’s slumping sniper failed to register a shot attempt and had subpar possession (9 for, 17 against, 34.6 SAT%) in Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Minnesota. Perry is still looking for his first goal of the season, while averaging a career-low 1.4 shots on goal per game.

Goaltenders:

Anders Nilsson – Edmonton’s rookie was lit up by Washington Friday, giving up six goals on 17 shots before getting pulled.

Eddie Lack – Carolina’s goaltender was pulled after surrendering four goals on 13 shots in Saturday’s 5-2 loss at San Jose.

Jonathan Bernier – Allowed five goals on 27 shots in Toronto’s 5-3 loss at Montreal Saturday.

Chad Johnson – The night before, the Habs scored seven goals (all past Johnson) on 26 shots in a 7-2 win at Buffalo.

Kari Lehtonen – Was yanked after allowing three goals on 11 shots in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Florida.

Jonas Hiller – Calgary’s netminding problems continue, as Hiller allowed four goals on 21 shots before getting pulled in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers. He was replaced by Joni Ortio, who will start the Flames’ next game.

VITAL SIGNS

Evander Kane – Buffalo’s left winger suffered what appeared to be a knee injury against New Jersey Saturday.

Dougie Hamilton – Calgary’s struggling defenceman played a season-low 17:57 in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers. It was the third straight game in which Hamilton played fewer than 20 minutes.

Mike Green – The Detroit defenceman was crushed by a Josh Jooris hit against the Flames Friday, and missed the Red Wings’ OT win at Vancouver Saturday.

Curtis Lazar – The second-year Senators winger was skating on Ottawa’s top line when he was hit hard by Arizona D Zbynek Michalek Saturday night. Lazar left the game and his return to the lineup is uncertain.

Peter Holland – Despite positive possession stats early in the season, the 24-year-old Maple Leafs centre was scratched Saturday night against the Canadiens.

Justin Schultz – The Edmonton defenceman was struggling (1 for, 10 against, 9.1 SAT%) before leaving Sunday’s loss to Los Angeles with an unknown injury.

John Moore – Played 24:36 for the Devils at Buffalo Saturday night. He’s topped that once in the previous three seasons.

Ryan Strome - The Islanders made Strome a healthy scratch Saturday, though he does have five points (1 G, 4 A) in his past five games.

Linus Ullmark – Made his NHL debut, stopping 24 of 28 shots, for the Sabres in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to New Jersey. The 22-year-old has a chance to earn a regular role in Buffalo while Robin Lehner is injured.

Kristers Gudlevskis – Tampa Bay’s rookie netminder stopped 31 of 32 Chicago shots in a 1-0 overtime loss Saturday. It was Gudlevskis’ first NHL game since making his NHL debut in April of 2014.

SHORT SHIFTS

After contributing a goal and an assist in Friday’s 7-4 win at Edmonton, Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom has seven points (4 G, 3 A) in four games…Capitals D John Carlson added three assists, giving him 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in seven games…Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin chipped in a pair of assists and has nine points (5 G, 4 A) during a six-game point streak…Capitals RW T.J. Oshie also had a couple of assists, giving him seven points (3 G, 4 A) in the past five games…Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher notched a pair of goals at Buffalo Friday, and has six points (4 G, 2 A) during a four-game point streak…Canadiens C Tomas Plekanec had three assists at Buffalo Friday, giving him seven points (2 G, 5 A) during a five-game point streak…Bruins C Ryan Spooner had a goal and an assist at the Islanders Friday, and has five points (2 G, 3 A) in his past four games…Bruins RW Loui Eriksson had a pair of assists in Friday’s win, giving him seven points (2 G, 5 A) in the past five games…Lightning D Victor Hedman recorded three assists in Friday’s 4-3 OT win at Winnipeg; he now has nine assists in eight games this season…Flames LW John Gaudreau had a pair of assists in Friday’s 3-2 OT win vs. Detroit and one more in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers; he has 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in eight games…Flames D Mark Giordano scored twice and added an assist in Friday’s victory…Kings RW Tyler Toffoli scored two goals in Friday’s 3-0 win over Carolina; he has five goals in the past five games…Kings LW Milan Lucic had two assists against Carolina, and has five points (1 G, 4 A) in the past five games…Devils LW Michael Cammalleri had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 4-3 win at Buffalo, giving him eight points (2 G, 6 A) during a four-game point streak…Devils C Adam Henrique buried a couple of goals and added an assist at Buffalo, and has eight points (5 G, 3 A) in his past five games…With a goal and an assist in both Friday’s win over Buffalo and Saturday’s win over Toronto, Canadiens LW Max Pacioretty has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) in nine games…Canadiens D P.K. Subban had three assists Friday, then added a goal and an assist Saturday, leaving him with 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in nine games…Maple Leafs RW Leo Komarov picked up a goal and an assist in Saturday’s loss to Montreal; he has five points (4 G, 1 A) in the past four games.

Oilers C Connor McDavid had a goal and assist Friday vs. Washington then added an assist (and was robbed of the tying goal) in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles; he has eight points (4 G, 4 A) during a five-game point streak…Stars LW Jamie Benn scored both Dallas goals in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Florida, and now has eight goals in eight games…Stars C Tyler Seguin assisted on both Benn goals and both are now tied for the league lead with 12 points…Sabres C Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s loss to New Jersey, giving him seven points (3 G, 4 A) in the past six games…Blues rookie D Colton Parayko 1 G, 1 A in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders Saturday, while playing a career-high 23:39, and has five points (3 G, 2 A) in the past six games…Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr contributed a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 6-2 win at Dallas; the 43-year-old has 10 points (6 G, 4 A) in eight games this season…Panthers C Nick Bjugstad had a goal and an assist in the win, centering Jagr’s line, giving him six points (3 G, 3 A) in eight games…Jets C Bryan Little tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 5-4 win over Minnesota; he has seven points (4 G, 3 A) in the past five games…Jets RW Drew Stafford put up a pair of goals against Minnesota, and has five points (4 G, 1 A) in the past five games…Jets RW Blake Wheeler picked up a couple of assists against Minnesota; he’s registered a point in every game this season, totaling 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in eight games.

It came in a winning effort, but San Jose’s fourth line was crushed against Carolina, with LW John McCarthy (0 for, 14 against), RW Mike Brown (0 for, 16 against) and C Bryan Lerg (1 for, 18 against, 5.6 SAT%) getting the wrong end of the shot game...In the same game, Carolina rookie LW Brock McGinn  and star D Justin Faulk were both on the ice for four even-strength goals against, while Hurricanes D Ryan Murphy had a dominant possession game (20 for, 2 against, 90.9 SAT%).

Coyotes G Anders Lindback stopped 35 of 36 shots in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Ottawa, his first start of the season…Islanders G Thomas Greiss turned aside 38 of 40 shots in Saturday’s 3-2 OT win at St. Louis; with a .932 save percentage in four starts, Greiss could push starter Jaroslav Halak for more playing time…Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury blocked 38 of 39 Predators shots in Saturday’s 2-1 OT win, giving him a .932 save percentage in eight starts.
 
FIRSTS

Joonas Kemppainen – Boston’s 27-year-old rookie scored his first NHL goal, in his sixth game, during Saturday’s 5-3 win at the Islanders.

Max McCormick – A sixth-round pick by Ottawa in 2011, the second-year pro out of Ohio State made his NHL debut Saturday, skating primarily with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Alex Chiasson.

Brett Pesce – A third-round pick from the University of New Hampshire in 2013, the 20-year-old blueliner made his NHL debut Saturday, playing 16:58 in a 5-2 loss at San Jose.

FANTASY FOCUS

Some left wing options to consider in order to fill the void created by injuries to Schwartz or Kane:

Josh Bailey – The Islanders winger has three goals and two assists in eight games and while his shot attempts are down, he shifted to John Tavares’ line last game, playing a season-high 18:56. 

Colin Wilson – While Wilson’s shot rate is down from last year, the Nashville winger has a goal and four assists in eight games and has quality linemates, Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith, to provide scoring opportunities.

Boone Jenner – The shot rate is down some for the Columbus winger, but he buried a couple of goals at Colorado in the Blue Jackets’ first win of the season, giving him five goals in nine games.

Brock Nelson – Though his shot rate, and ice time, is down from last season, Nelson played a season-high 17:06 last game and he still has managed five points in the first eight games.

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

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