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Rosen's mailbag - Nov. 5, 2014

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Nov. 5 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Is 'Scorey' Perry over or under 50 goals this season? -- @KrohnDominic

Over. He's on pace for 69 goals if he plays in all 82 games. He won't get 69, but the way he's scoring goals now, I don't think 60 is out of the question. For my money Perry is right with Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin as the best pure goal scorers in the NHL. He might be ahead of them, but I'm not ready to name a No. 1 yet because Stamkos missed most of last season. Perry constantly is around the net. He's quick on the breakout. He can shoot off the rush as well as anyone. It helps that he plays with Ryan Getzlaf. They make each other better. I think he gets to 50 easy, and challenges 60.

In your opinion, who is the most underrated netminder in the League? -- @RobMcGregor35

The first goalie that comes to mind is Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues. Some critics may consider him a product of the system in St. Louis, but all Elliott has done for the majority of his time with the Blues is win games and post solid numbers. This season he's finally getting his chance to be a No. 1 goalie, and that's with a top prospect in Jake Allen pushing him.

The second goalie to come to mind is Ray Emery of the Philadelphia Flyers. The fact that he's still playing after career-threatening hip surgery is outstanding. The fact that he's playing well for a team that is weakest on defense also is outstanding. Emery is steady and he gives the Flyers a chance. He has been a better option this season than Steve Mason. Philadelphia is lucky to have him.

The third goalie that comes to mind is a surprising one. I think Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is underrated. He is a Stanley Cup champion so maybe I'm a bit crazy in calling him underrated, but I think he gets undo criticism. The Blackhawks are built to push the attack by having defensemen join the rush. That can make life difficult on a goalie because one mistake up front could lead to an odd-man rush or a breakaway the other way. Crawford continues to put up solid numbers. He has won the Stanley Cup and helped get his team into Game 7 Western Conference Final. He's solid.

Steve Mason blames the new lighting in Philadelphia, and Ray Emery is having no problems. Valid reason? Your thoughts? -- @TheKidBigKip

According to a story I read by Frank Seravalli on, Mason isn't blaming the new lighting at Wells Fargo Center for his early season struggles. He said he's had some issues tracking the puck, but he never said the lighting is the reason he has struggled. He didn't appear to have any issues with the lighting Tuesday when he made 35 saves in a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers.

To answer your question, though, I do think it would be a valid reason because lightning in an arena absolutely can have an effect on goaltenders, at least from what I'm told. But let's not forget that Mason is playing behind one of the weaker defenses in the NHL and he was struggling in his own right. However, before Tuesday he made two starts at Wells Fargo Center. Maybe he made the adjustment he needed to make so the lights aren't getting in his head, or eyes.

What's the deal with the Montreal Canadiens? Why the drop-off suddenly? -- @seebs66

Analytics matter. They may not be totally refined yet in the NHL the way they are in Major League Baseball, but they matter. They help predict what eventually will happen over a larger sample size than just a few games. In the case of the Canadiens, the analytics weren't good from the start this season. They're getting burned now. This was predictable.

* The Canadiens were a minus-20 in shot attempts against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday; they lost 5-0.

* Montreal was outshot 36-20 overall and 25-16 at even strength, and was a minus-8 in shot attempts against the Calgary Flames on Sunday; it lost 6-2.

* The Canadiens were minus-11 in shot attempts against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 30; they lost 3-2.

* Montreal was outshot 38-19, including 25-14 at even strength, and was a minus-23 in shot attempts against the Flames on Oct. 28; it managed to win in a shootout, 2-1.

The night before against the Edmonton Oilers, the Canadiens simply ran into a hot goalie and lost. But more times than not the analytics, the possession numbers, will tell the story of how a team is playing and what to expect going forward.

Montreal needs to fix its game. It needs to be able to generate more time with the puck. It shouldn't be too hard. The Canadiens entered play Wednesday leading the NHL in faceoff percentage at 54.3. They should have the puck more, but they have to compete harder to keep it. They're getting outplayed.

As a Blues fan I've always loved him, but what do you think the ceiling is on Vladimir Tarasenko, because right now he's on fire? -- @BCBohn

I'm not sure if Tarasenko has a ceiling. I wouldn't be shocked if he becomes a 50-goal scorer in the NHL. He's that skilled. His shot is that good. His hands are that amazing. He has all the tools to be a 50-goal scorer.

As important, and perhaps as impressive, is what Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was talking about Monday night. Hitchcock said the best thing he's seen from Tarasenko this season is he's finding different ways to score, and it's not all 1-on-1 play.

His goal against the New York Rangers was outrageous, but his goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday was different and yet still incredible because of how he created the shot, and where his eyes were when he shot. He attacked when he saw he had the room and his release was lightning fast.

Put a ceiling over Tarasenko's head and I think he'll bust right through it.

What do you think of the production put forth so far by two of my favorite young Detroit Red Wings, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist? -- @purdstheword22

Nyquist has to be more consistent. He's a streaky scorer, which can be infuriating and exhilarating. He needs to develop more consistency. I think he's getting there but he needs to get there quicker because the Red Wings need him.

Abdelkader has established himself in the NHL as a tough, grinding, power forward who has skill and can score. That's what he is. He's off to a fantastic start, but a lot of that has to do with playing with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The good thing is Abdelkader has shown he can play with them, or just about anyone in Detroit's lineup. He's a chameleon for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock; no matter what line he goes on, Abdelkader will change his colors to find success on that line.

Why do the Washington Capitals keep losing even though they dominate shots and possession? -- @pattyo_36

Mistakes at important times. Clean that up and the Capitals will be OK.

Let's take a look at the game Tuesday against the Calgary Flames as an example because it's freshest. There was nothing Washington could do about the goal Calgary scored to tie the game. That was bad luck. But Sean Monahan's winner was avoidable.

Mike Green got lost. He was too high in the zone. Matt Niskanen was as well. Alex Ovechkin had to try to backcheck his way into a defenseman's position to join center Nicklas Backstrom, who was covering in the slot for Green. Ovechkin almost made it but couldn't quite do it. Green and Niskanen lost their positioning for a split second and the puck wound up in the net.

Earlier in the game the Capitals didn't stop Mark Giordano from walking into the slot and beating Braden Holtby with an excellent backhand. The shot was fantastic, but Tom Wilson went down too early and nobody stepped up to stop Giordano once he went around Wilson. That might be tough criticism, but it wound up as a goal-against so it's warranted.

The Capitals are getting quality chances. They're holding the puck, keeping possession. They are doing a lot of good things, but key mistakes at key times are killing them.


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