The Tigers just dismantled the 2nd best team in the Central Division: Red Deer by a score of 7-2.
Weak Central Division
Red Deer is currently in 2nd place, with a .500 record. If we compare a .500 record to the past few years, it doesn't make the playoffs since the 06-07 season. Not a knock on Red Deer but a general statement that the Central Division is unusually weak this season.
Let's take a look at some of our preseason expectations for the Tigers and lets take a look at how they are performing.
In summary we knew the tigers possessed a really good veteran core who would be able to score by committee. We were a bit uncertain as to how the new import John Dahlstrom would fare. I think most of us knew that their offense was going to be one of their big strong points as they returned every impact scoring forward from the previous season.They also had a very high caliber group of rookies fighting for few spots up front.
Defence was their biggest question mark.
Defensive Expectations - Last season they struggled. and graduated their biggest weapon in Ty Stanton. We didn't know how Kristians Rubins was going to perform, he wasn't NHL drafted but was the 6th overall CHL Import pick.
The defensive Core was a year older and their depth improved with a handful of prospects ready to step in. We were cautiously optimistic that with the improved Tigers offense, the Defence would be capable of holding their own.
Nick Schneider played (I think 8 games) last season in the AHL.,We knew the Tigers had a championship caliber 'tender. Any questions about goal-tending would be about a backup goaltender.
Lets Jump to Current Time
Top 8 Teams (Goal Differential) - Sorted by Winning Percentage
The Tigers Off to An Amazing Start Offensively
4th in Winning Percentage. 2nd in Goal Differential. Now these stats can be misleading and mean nothing by themselves, but it gives a generalized comparison on how the Tigers are fairing offensively and defensively compared with the rest of the league.
Highest offensive Team in the last 10 years in terms of Total Goals Scored.
2014-15 Brandon Wheat Kings;
Started: 5 Goals a game
Finish: 4.7 Goals per Game Rate.
Right now the Tigers are higher than that.
Will Their Offense Sustain?
Tigers Historical Goals Scored Per Game
Lets check the Tigers History in terms of Goals Scored in the first 20 games compared to where they finish.
Current WLL AVG = 3.12 Goals scored a game.
No secret algorithm run. Just a general projection based on their production. If numbers are off it's rounding errors by excel.
It is extremely unlikely to see some of these players continuing these rates for a full season. I highly doubt the Tigers will have 4 (almost 5)-40 goal scorers by seasons end and finish with 374 goals. That is a very high total.
It is very likely that Rassal, Quenneville's production slows in goals scored. Zach Fischer could also see a slowing. He is a very unique player as he suddenly exploded in his 18yr old season in the last 13 games. He went from a .1 ppg player to a 1ppg player overnight. That is not often done, especially so late. Fischer is also currently the league leader in Penalty Minutes.
We may see some goal increases too. Mason Shaw, Steve Owre, Chad Butcher are just as likely to increase their goal scoring rate a little, but they are enjoying more of a playmaking role.
Matt Bradley has always been a slow starter. He doubled his goal total in the last 3 games. With back to back to back 2 goal games He is catching fire. One would think he is capable of a big point increase this year.
Despite slowing down towards the end of last season Max Gerlach is fighting for the Tigers goal scoring lead.
John Dahlstrom has been a pleasant surprise so far. 1.2 PPG is very high for a first year Euro.
I don't expect to see the Tigers suddenly drop off the map, but over the course of time as weaknesses are shored up and teams have better scouting reports on each other, their production is bound to slow a little.
The Line Combos
Zach Fischer Chad Butcher Steven Owre
Matt Bradley Mason Shaw John Dahlstrom
Mark Rassal James Hamblin Max Gerlach
Ryan Jevne Tyler Preziuso
Gary Haden/ Ryan Chyzowski (every other game on the 4th line)
The last couple games the Tigers have been rolling these lines. I love those combos.
The Tigers are more than holding their own. 3.10 GAA is very respectable for a group that gave up almost 4 GAA last season. However it could be better. Their are spurts where they run around in their own end and are unable to relieve pressure without giving up a quality chance. Will they be able to hammer that out? Or will a defensive upgrade be looked at?
If the Tigers decide to go for it, they could very well be looking at a defensive upgrade come trade deadline time from one of their 19's. The Tigers are likely to loose both a Schultz/Forrest due to numbers. Instead of scrambling for an off-season 5th-6th pick, it could be worthwhile to use one as a sidepiece in a trade.
The Tigers have been heavily relying on starter Nick Schneider at this point. Backup Duncan McGovern has played 4 games, however In today's game a 16yr old is almost too physically young to handle shots from 19's and 20's.
Nick Schneider is pulling a very respectable .910 save percentage, while McGovern is putting up typical lower 16 yr old numbers.
Is it worth it for the Tigers to acquire a veteran backup tender? Schneider is eligible to come back next season as a 20. The Flames goalie situation is extremely volatile. 2 NHL tenders on 1 yr deals. 3 goalies in their farm system under contract for next year, + 1 euro goalie on a 1 yr contract that the flames took a flyer on and could re-sign. Their may or may not be room for him in the flames system and we won't know until the Flames roster takes shape for next season.
Nonetheless their is a degree of risk if Schneider carries the load and McGovern isn't able to get in some quality games.
The Tigers lead the league with their Powerplay clicking at 32.4%. On the road it is a staggering 36.4%
The Tigers also Lead the League on the Penalty Kill with an 86.5% Kill Rate. A very slight increase over the first ten game mark which was 85.7%
The Tigers have had a very clean bill of health so far *knock on wood*The Tigers do have a few players who have missed significant time the past couple season and so far those players have remained healthy.
Have to give props to the Tigers for not only finding these players, but having the vision of drafting veteran players and turning last years down year into a very quick up season this year.
They have both been key parts to the Tigers so far
I kinda thought the Tigers would be a team that was above average out of the gate and a team that grows stronger as the year wears on. They have so many players who are later bloomers combined with a bunch of young players who show lots of potential.
They have a great record and I don't believe they are playing "over their head" I think these guys are the real deal. As long as they don't get caught running in their own zone on any given night I think they have a pretty good shot at winning.
While it is still pretty early, and many things can change, injuries can happen etc. I think every team wants to be in a position come the trade deadline where they are considering adding to make a run. The Tigers are on that path.
Tigers = 44 shots a game. Shooting Percentage 11.1%
League Leader Regina = 45 shots a game. Shooting Percentage 12.8%
PDO Factor aka The "Lucky Stat"
PDO - is a designation of how "lucky" a team is. It has been proven that over the long term it heavily regresses to the mean of 100.
Tigers = 100.5%
Regina = 102.6%
Basically means the Tigers aren't getting overly lucky. 2% over or under means a teams shooting percentage or save percentage is likely to start declining.