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ize Hamilton, as the Bulldogs pressed furiously for the tie as the per

Alex Ovechkin’s slump, big nights for Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Smith; lineup news, fantasy tips and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking. Josh Allen Bills Jersey . Held scoreless in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Detroit, Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin has now gone a career-worst five consecutive games without a point. It’s not burying Ovechkin to point out that he’s in a slump (and I’ve already been something of an Ovechkin apologist in the past), but it’s easy to see that Ovechkin is really doing a lot well right now, even if the points haven’t been coming as expected over this short span of games. In the first nine games of the Barry Trotz era in Washington, Ovechkin has posted a career-best Corsi% (measuring even-strength shot attempts) of 59.4%. OVECHKIN POSSESSION STATS YEAR CORSI% CORSI REL% 2007-08 58.1% +4.2% 2008-09 57.4% +4.2% 2009-10 57.8% +7.2% 2010-11 53.9% +4.0% 2011-12 47.4% -2.3% 2012-13 49.2% +0.7% 2013-14 49.3% +2.5% 2014-15 59.4% +5.0% What’s encouraging about these numbers is that Ovechkin is driving play like he did earlier in his career, and a far cry from his 2011-2012 season when his offensive production hit career-low rates (65 points in 78 games). Like last season, Ovechkin is not getting much help from linemates – his lone assist this year has come on the power play – but thanks to a recent decline in shots on goal, his 4.22 shots on goal per game ranks as the second-lowest of his career. In the first four games of this dry spell, Ovechkin had mustered just seven shots on goal and that’s some reason for concern, because he’s always been a high-volume shooter, leading the league in shots on goal in eight of his nine seasons but, let’s not overreact, it was just four games. Wednesday, against Detroit, Ovechin attempted 13 shots, with seven on goal, against the Red Wings, which is a good way to get out of a scoring slump. Because Ovechkin’s underlying numbers have been so good, there’s not so much reason to worry about this slump, because those signs point to goals and points coming back at a more regular rate soon. HEROES Justin Abdelkader – Hard-hitting winger who gets to play a complementary role with some elite players in Detroit and he scored two goals and an assist in Wednesday’s 4-2 win at Washington. He scored a career-high 28 points last season, but has eight points (5 G, 3 A) in nine games this year, riding a 22.7% shooting percentage that won’t last, but he is also playing a career-high 16:30 per game and generating a career-best 2.44 shots on goal per game. Pavel Datsyuk – The Magician tallied a goal and an assist, with a team-leading eight shot attempts (4 SOG) in the win at Washington. Datsyuk has five points in four games since returning from injury, and the Red Wings have eased him in, playing 18:42 per game. The last season in which he averaged less ice time per game (than this admittedly very small sample) was 2005-2006. Craig Smith – The Predators’ leading goal-scorer, with 24, last season, Smith buried a pair of goals on nine shot attempts (5 SOG), while posting quality possession stats (17 shot attempts for, 10 against, 63.0%) in a 4-1 win at Edmonton. ZEROES Niklas Kronwall – The Red Wings’ No. 1 defenceman had a rough night, possession-wise, on for five shot attempts for and 18 against (21.7%). His worst forward matchups, head-to-head, were against Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom (2 shot attempts for, 10 against, 16.7%) and RW Joel Ward (2 for, 13 against, 13.3%). Mark Arcobello – Despite not starting an even-strength shift in the defensive zone, the Oilers’ centre had his team’s worst possession stats (9 shot attempts for, 16 against, 36.0%). SHORT SHIFTS Red Wings C Henrik Zetterberg had a pair of assists…Predators D Roman Josi had two assists and blocked seven shots…Predators G Pekka Rinne stopped 26 of 27 shots for the win in Edmonton. LINEUP NEED TO KNOW Capitals RW Eric Fehr was scratched from the lineup as second-year RW Tom Wilson was inserted into the lineup for his first game of the season after suffering a broken ankle in the summer. Predators C Calle Jarnkrok, still looking for his first point of the season, was scratched from the lineup in Edmonton Wednesday. Predators D Seth Jones played a season-low 14:46 at Edmonton, though had a solid possession game (15 shot attempts for, 9 against, 62.5%) in that limited role. FIRSTS Predators C Matt Cullen played his first game of the season, picking up an assist while playing 15:18. FANTASY FOCUS A few players, available in more than half of TSN leagues, to monitor on a busy 10-game night in the NHL: Jori Lehtera – Someone in St. Louis has to get the puck to the Blues’ scoring wingers and with injuries to Paul Stastny and David Backes, Lehtera is clearly the best option down the middle. He has six points in seven games and is centering Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko heading into tonight’s matchup with Anaheim. Michael Raffl – Getting moved to the Flyers’ top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek is working well for Raffl, who has four goals and five points in the past five games. Tonight, the Flyers go to Tampa Bay, which isn’t an easy matchup, but Raffl is still available in nearly 99% of TSN leagues. Seth Griffith – The rookie winger has emerged as the Bruins’ best option on the right side with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, scoring three goals and five points in the past four games. Really, anyone on the Bruins is worth a look since they are in Buffalo to play the Sabres. Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.com, www.puckalytics.com, www.hockeystats.ca and www.naturalstattrick.com Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca LeSean McCoy Womens Jersey . Sweeting scored two in the first and three in the second before Strong (4-4) got two back in the fourth. Sweeting then scored three in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh to grab a commanding 9-2 lead. Andre Roberts Womens Jersey . Zimmermann became the National Leagues first 16-game winner, pitching seven solid innings to lead the Washington Nationals past the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Wednesday night.HAMILTON, Ont. -- Two power-play goals 1:39 apart in the second period helped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 4-2 win over the host Hamilton Bulldogs Saturday in American Hockey League play. Adam Ebbett had two goals and an assist for the Penguins (31-20-8) and Tom Kostopoulos and Denver Manderson scored a goal apiece. Peter Mannino made 30 saves for the win. Gabriel Dumont and Mike Blunden scored for the Bulldogs (25-27-5), who dropped their second game in as many nights. Robert Mayer stopped 31 shots in a losing effort. The Penguins were unlucky not to take an early lead just two minutes into the game, as Jayson Megna came free along the left wing and fired a rising wrist shot that rang off Mayers crossbar. It was a shaky period for the Bulldogs netminder, who nearly gifted the opening goal to the Penguins six minutes later when he misplayed the puck behind his net. Davis Drewiske showcased his stickhandling ability to create Hamiltons best scoring chance of the period when he broke past two defenders and out-waited Mannino, but could not slide the puck behind the downed goaltender. Hamilton put an end to the trend of near misses when, as its power play expired, it found the games opening goal at 15:17. An initial point shot was kicked aside by Mannino, but the puck came to Martin St. Pierre at the right circle, and he slid a cross-ice pass to Dumont, who easily fired a one-time shot into the gaping net. Momentum appeared to be in the Bulldogs corner as they emerged from the first period with the lead. But an early collapse to begin the second would drastically change thee landscape of the game. Bruce Smith Bills Jersey. Ebbett tipped in a point shot from Nick Drazenovic just 42 seconds into the period to level the game at a goal apiece, and the Penguins struck again just 1:39 later. After St. Pierre was whistled for hooking, Ebbett won the ensuing faceoff in the Hamilton zone straight back to Kostopoulos at the blue line, who took a heavy slap shot that beat Mayer over the near shoulder to give the Penguins the lead. Play moved almost exclusively into the Hamilton zone after the quick goals, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton built on its lead when a cross-checking penalty to Greg Pateryn sent it back to the power play. Adam Payerl wrong-footed Mayer with a wrap-around play, and the goaltender was just able to deny his first effort with his foot. But his hold on the post was weak, and Manderson successfully swooped in to bang in the rebound at 10:59 of the second. The Bulldogs cut into the deficit on a power play of their own at 3:53 of the third period. Having already scored a goal, Dumont took his turn as creator, threading a cross-ice pass to Blunden in the low slot. The winger tipped the puck through the legs of Mannino, who was fooled by the sudden change of pace. That goal appeared to galvanize Hamilton, as the Bulldogs pressed furiously for the tie as the period wore on. Sven Andrighetto came closest to scoring the equalizer when he fired a heavy shot from the top of the left circle that beat Mannino only to hit his crossbar and deflect clear. Ebbett put the game out of reach at 19:04, when he scored his second goal of the night into an empty net. ' ' '



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