November 9, 2011

Experience or Youth in the NHL ? – Part 1

The first 15 or so games has seen some exciting play from a lot of the younger players coming into the league but has also seen some of the ageing veterans coming to the plate and putting in stellar starts to the season.

For part 1 I have picked 3 of the matured breed of NHL player that have been impressive with their starts to the season.

Nick Lidstrom – Detroit Redwings
After a great opening 5 games for Detroit they then went on a 6 game slump before picking back up in the last 2. Certain star players have been missing from games at the start of the season but one player who has arguably been their best is their captain Lidstrom.

He is currently  2nd on the team in both goals and points (6+5=11) whilst has been commanding in the defensive zone as at the same time. He has by far looked the most comfortable player in a Redwings shirt this season and is putting up between 21 and 26 minutes a game.

Not bad for a 41 year old who just seems to get better and better with age. He also hit the milestone of his 1500th NHL game and became the 1st European player ever to hit that mark.

Nikolai Khabibulin – Edmonton Oilers
Whilst a lot of hype with the Oilers start to the season has been based around Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Hall and the youthfulness of the team, you only have to look at Khabibulin at the other end to prove that their start isn’t all down to youth.

9 goals in 9 games is all the 38 year old veteran has conceded so far this season, posting a 0.98% GAA and a 0.964% SP. Heck, the guy hasn’t lost a game in regulation so far, winning 7 and losing 2 via penalty shots. This guy has just been hot, hot, hot.

Edmonton – through their opening 14 games have only scored 4 goals or more in 1 game. The fact they have won so many and sit 2nd in the Western Conference is down to the defensive end more than their attacking flair so far!!

Jaromir Jagr – Philadelphia Flyers
It may have taken Jaromir a few games before getting his 1st Flyers goal but since he has jumped up to 2nd on the team in points and goals (6+9=15).

There are no if’s or buts. This guy is a legend. When he went to the KHL some thought his NHL days were over. When he decided to give it another go in the NHL a lot of teams looked at him and it was the Flyers who got him. They may have thought his production might not be team leading but his experience would rub off on the likes of Van Riemsdyk and Giroux but it seems he is still going to put up some great numbers this year as well. If he continues at this pace he will hit an 80+ point season and that for a 39 year old who has been out of the league for 3 years is outstanding.

He has already recorded his 1600th career point and 650th career goal since his return to the NHL.

- Adam Yates

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