I'm not going to get around to a post-game entry until tomorrow morning, but I did want to touch on something that's kind of being kicked around Twitter -- that being the "bright spot" of the season, Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad.
Zibanejad scored his sixteenth-goal this season on Lundqvist tonight, with thirty-two points now in sixty-six+ games. For a twenty year-old, that's a pretty strong season.
But, as is the case with any player (and especially
any young player), you want to see the underlying numbers there. You want to see a guy who generates a lot of shots and generates a lot of possession time, and you just hope he's rewarded in the points department for that kind of work. Guys who ride the percentages and don't have the territorial play underpinning it are basically always red flags until proven otherwise.
That's where I think Zibanejad really stands out. To me, and I've said this before, it seems as if he's following the Kyle Turris development curve. He's blowing through bottom-six competition, and at some point (like, uh, this summer), the team's going to have to come to grips with the fact that he's too good to keep giving limited minutes to, especially at evens.
He'll then draw tougher competition, and take a bit of time adjusting to that, just like Kyle Turris did. Remember, we had this exact discussion two years ago with Turris, and how the underlying numbers were very suggestive of future output. Fast forward back to today, and no one is surprised with his scoring and performance on Ottawa's easily most-productive line.
Back to Zibanejad. I went ahead and looked at regular forwards who generated, on averag, eight shots or more per sixty-minutes of even-strength play and
won the Corsi% battle decisively, at or above 53%. The list of forwards, as you'd expect, is impressive.
So, there's the 20 year-old, mixing in with a bunch of good forwards on elite teams, or elite forwards on good teams, and that's pretty much it.
If I'm the organization, this is the one thing I'm hanging my hat on this year, even after the inexcusable demotion in the beginning of the season.
He's arriving. There will be another bump or two in the road when he starts facing the league's best, but so far, everything's good.
Thanks for reading!