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Rosen's mailbag - Oct. 28, 2015

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Oct. 28 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday in the Over the Boards blog during the 2015-16 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

How do you see Bruce Boudreau turning the season around for the Ducks? -- @Johnaubert97

I'm not sure that I do, which is unfortunate because Boudreau is a quality NHL coach who deserves better than he's getting right now from his team.

Part of the Ducks' issues are on Boudreau, of course. They appear disjointed, with gaps that are too wide between the forwards and defense. They don't appear to have much of a plan of attack for when they have the puck in the offensive zone. Their top players are not performing up to their capabilities. They've looked slow to me. That falls on coaching, even though the coach isn't the one playing. Heavy lies the crown, so to speak.

But I also do wonder if many of us in this business, myself included, overrated Anaheim at the start of the season. This is a results-based business and the Ducks' results last season were excellent. But if you dig deeper into how they came up with the positive results it shows a team that might have had a lot of luck and unsustainable statistics on its side.

The Ducks finished last season with a plus-7 goal differential (228-221), but they were plus-14 in the third period (85-71), a big reason why they won a League-best 12 games when trailing after two periods.

Anaheim was 11th in goals-for, 11th in goals-against, 28th in power play (15.7 percent), 15th in penalty kill (81.0 percent), 16th in shot-attempts percentage (51.21) and 21st in 5-on-5 save percentage (.919). None of those numbers suggest a team should finish with 109 points, but that's what the Ducks did last season.

Maybe they weren't as dominant as we thought they were after all. They're definitely not as bad as they've been this season. But it certainly seems like they were overrated by everyone, myself included.

Steven Stamkos to Calgary? -- @glenmeister

It's a nice rumor and all, but I don't see it happening. I don't see Stamkos going anywhere. I think he eventually signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning because it would be insane for them not to sign him. He's the kind of player you build championship teams around. All the other top forwards in Tampa Bay are important players, but they're not Stamkos and they will never be Stamkos. He's too good to let go. He is the heartbeat of that team.

Beyond just that, for this rumor to become true, Stamkos would have to make this a sign and trade with the Flames. There is no chance Flames general manager Brad Treliving would make the mistake of acquiring Stamkos and likely giving up a lot to get him, perhaps Sean Monahan and a first-round pick (I'm just spitballing there) without having the certainty that he would remain with the Flames on a long term contract.

Why would Stamkos do that? Why, if Stamkos isn't going to sign with the Lightning, would he sign anywhere unless he knows for sure that he's going where he wants to go and at his price tag, which is expected to be in the neighborhood of $10 million per season? This isn't to suggest Stamkos wouldn't like it in Calgary, but I haven't once heard him say Calgary is a destination spot for him. I haven't heard him say anywhere but Tampa is a destination spot for him, not even Toronto, which is home for him in the offseason.

What is your opinion on the Flyers' start this season? Still think they can't make the playoffs? -- @BillyStayScheme

The Flyers have been OK, which is what I expected from them. But OK isn't good enough to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Philadelphia has had some good moments, some indifferent moments and some bad moments.

Back-to-back shutouts against the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks by a combined score of 4-0 qualify as good. I expected the Flyers to play a tighter game against Florida on Oct. 12 after losing 7-1 to them two days earlier. But I didn't expect them to dominate the Blackhawks the way they did Oct. 14. You also could argue their 3-2 shootout win against the New York Rangers on Saturday qualifies as good, but they did give up a point to a division rival despite playing well.

Just about every other game Philadelphia has played except for the 7-1 loss to Florida qualifies as indifferent.

The Flyers have been in most games, including four that have gone into overtime. They entered play Wednesday averaging a League-best 34.9 shots on goal per game, but they're also giving up a League-high 33.0 shots per game. Their offense has struggled and they have a 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 6.4. Their power play is brutal right now, going 2-for-19 in the past six games. That should improve, along with their 5-on-5 shooting percentage, but it won't matter if they continue to give up the number of shots they're allowing. They have a .942 save percentage at 5-on-5 and that's a number that could regress.

To give you an example, last season at 5-on-5 the Flyers had a 7.4 shooting percentage and a .930 save percentage, which was seventh in the NHL. They didn't make the playoffs.

The Flyers need more out of their top players. Claude Giroux has five points in eight games. The same goes for Wayne Simmonds. Jakub Voracek has three points, all assists. None of that is good enough. I expect it to get better, but goalie Steve Mason hasn't played well and backup Michal Neuvirth has played almost too well compared to his career numbers. I don't expect Neuvirth to keep up a .947 save percentage.

The Ducks and Penguins are 30th and 29th, respectively, in goals scored so far. At what point does this become a legitimate concern? -- @Kurt_Schwerman

I discussed the Ducks in a previous question. I do expect them to start scoring more soon, but it definitely is a concern at this point. How could it not be? They've been shut out five times in nine games, and when they finally did bust out with three goals against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, it wasn't enough to earn a point in the standings.

The Penguins, who play at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) are less of a concern. They'll get their offense rolling soon. There are too many good players to stay down for this long. Sidney Crosby is not going to average 0.375 points per game for the entire season. That's not happening. Phil Kessel is going to start scoring more. Patric Hornqvist isn't going the entire season without a goal.

All that said, the Penguins need to get their defense activated more than they have this season because it will open things for them. Kris Letang needs to be a big part of the attack. Olli Maatta should be too. Ian Cole can join in as well, though not as often as the other two.

In addition, the Penguins need some secondary scoring to take the pressure off Crosby, Kessel, Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin. They were built as a top-heavy team, but that doesn't excuse bottom-six forwards such as Nick Bonino, David Perron and Matt Cullen from having a combined three points through eight games.

What do you think coach John Hynes brings to the Devils that is different from Peter DeBoer? -- @jniiiice

Hynes is trying to get the Devils to play faster and to have the defensemen activate on a regular basis. He wants to utilize the stretch pass when it's there. However, these aren't necessarily differences between Hynes and DeBoer, but instead really a change in the organizational philosophy from up top, from general manager Lou Lamoriello to Ray Shero.

Lamoriello always wanted the Devils to be defensive and at times it bogged the game down in the middle of the ice. Every time a team came to Prudential Center to play the Devils the comments always were a version of, "You need to stay patient against this team because they don't give you much."

The Devils still don't want to give the opposition time and space, but they appear to want to play a bit of a riskier and faster game now. The problem is they don't have the players to do it consistently. They don't have dynamic forwards or experienced enough defensemen, outside of Andy Greene, to connect the dots to become a dynamic offensive team.

Are the first 10 games from the New York Rangers the beginning of the effects of the long playoff runs or just a sleepy start? -- @realpmurray

The Rangers are 6-2-2 through 10 games, including 3-0-2 in their past five. They're enter play Wednesday in first place in the Metropolitan, albeit with at least a game in hand on every other team in the division except the Columbus Blue Jackets. My point here is that it has been a pretty good start for the Rangers and to bag on them for being sleepy or fatigued from long playoff runs seems a bit unfair.

I'll grant you that they haven't been at their best, based on the evaluation that their best came last season when they won the Presidents' Trophy with 113 points. They have been up and down. They've gotten some offense from their defense recently but it hasn't been consistent. Rick Nash hasn't put the puck in the net yet, though he has one goal because he was hooked on a breakaway with an empty net. Chris Kreider has one goal. Their top two lines haven't clicked well yet; their best line has been their third line of Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg.

However, the Rangers have been at their best early and late in games, which is positive. They have outscored their opponents 11-5 in the first period and 11-7 in the third, including 7-0 in their past three wins, against the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames. They have scored first in six of their 10 games.

The analysis of the Rangers suggests they can play better. But it also shows you that they haven't been sleepy or fatigued. They're collecting points while working through some flaws.


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