Ilya Kovalchuk is back in the line-up after missing a few games, and the cause, if you take a look at the stats, was probably exhaustion. Devils coach Peter DeBoer was running Kovalchuk ragged as he logged over 25 minutes per game of average ice time, over three minutes more than the next closes forward. Kovalchuk was doing it all, playing well over a minute shorthanded every game and over four minutes per game on the powerplay, leaving nearly 20 minutes of tiring even-strength play. In his first game back Kovalchuk was eased in to the line-up with just over 22 minutes.
I was thumbing through some box scores of that very same game between Buffalo and New Jersey and was pretty impressed to see Nathan Gerbe had notched his seventh assist of the year in a losing effort. I wanted to see how many points he had this season. 10 in 18 games is pretty impressive for the league’s shortest player, but then when I checked the far right column of the box score, Time On Ice, it became all the more astounding. Gerbe had plaid just 11:16 that game with no power-play time.
So, he inspired my search for others like him, who are producing points for their team without the big minutes and special-teams time.
5. Nathan Gerbe: Ten points in 18 games, his plus five rating is second on the Sabres, 14:13 TOI/G
4. Sean Couturier: Eight points in 18 games, tied for team lead in +/- as a rookie, 13:06 TOI/G
3. Victor Stalber: Ten points in 17 games, a plus-7 rating in just 12:59 TOI/G
2. Tanner Glass: Nine points in 19 games, second on team in plus/minus in just 11:29 TOI/G
1. Tim Stapleton: Who? Fair question. The undrafted and undersized native of Forest Park, Illinois enjoyed four productive years WCHA with Minnesota Duluth but went undrafted. He left college and joined Jokerit of the SM-Liiga for two seasons, then returned and torched the AHL with the Marlies but soon left Toronto’s system to join Atlanta, and while he bounced up and down from the minors to the NHL he has found a home this year as a powerplay specialist with seven points in 15 games all in just 9:19 TOI/G.
Honourable mention to Cody Hodgson for his nine points in 19 games, all with just 13:39 TOI/G
Jesse Newman of the Lions stops in to preview the West Final http://soundcloud.com/josh-statham/epi5complete and Canucks chat in the new podcast!