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Old 01-11-2019, 02:51 PM   #21
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Or it could mean he's declining.


His troubles go back to last season.
What troubles go back to last season? He was basically flat in shooting percentage, high danger conversion ... everything to the previous year.

2016-17 70gp 23-18-41 11.4%
2017-18 71gp 25-19-44 12.4%

He could have just fallen off a cliff, but his chance rates show he's been pretty unlucky.

Utilization would have him off 10% on his numbers ... 2-3 goals, 4-5 points, but the rest is lack of finish despite getting the chances.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:55 PM   #22
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My James Neal "eye test" says he's too slow to get his shots off, which is a byproduct of being too slow into high danger areas when the play develops. It seems to me that it's pretty rare that he gets a high quality shot off in the danger areas because he doesn't have enough time. The ones he does get off are blocked, shot wide or are (for the most part) rushed muffins.

Just my opinion of course.
Like your opinion. I see the exact same thing. His past goals from highlights looks heavy and lethal. But with the Flames, all we've seen are his low percentage muffin from the perimeter. I know people have been saying his sh% is unsustainably low all season long. But I don't. I don't see a guy who's ready to pop and score 10 in 10, or even 5 in 10 for that matter.

He isn't fast enough to break apart from his defender to get open. His footwork/agility is unimpressive which keeps him from getting lethal shots off unless it's a perfect pass. If you're the opposition, all you really have to do to shut Neal down right now is play him man to man, stay in front of him and he's quiet. Neal is making it way too easy to defend him.

You can tell his teammates are trying to get him the puck in good spots and he's getting the ice time to figure it all out, but it just seems like it's all for nothing. Personally, I'd like to see him transform his game completely. He's got a big body and he's hard to move, so he should start getting to the front of the net and scoring the greasy goals like Tkachuk. The rebound goals, the tip ins, the goal mouth scrambles. He just has to do something different now because there's no way a proud goal scorer like him can possibly be ok with a 7 goal pace.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:58 PM   #23
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I agree with pretty much all of that. Thing is, Bennett and Jankowski always seem to have defenders around them. However, I think it's because they skate at them a lot, and in doing so, sometimes don't create enough space between them and Neal.

I think Neal's stick might be an issue as well, but man, he should have experimented with other by now. He should try Monahan's stick.
He should've had his stick figured out in the preseason. His tape job is pretty horrifying as well. Marc Savard would have a panic attack looking at that.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:59 PM   #24
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Nice effort on the research Bingo.

For me personally, I think his problems this season are mostly due to his teammates. Not necessarily that it's all on them because he certainly has been weighing down most players he ends up playing with.

But I just think don't think this guy is on the right team or the right situation. The Flames are a fantastic quick strike, give and go, score on the rush type of team and James Neal isn't. We've seen him attempt the give and go and he looks like a fish out of water.
This. Well said.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:02 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Bingo View Post
What troubles go back to last season? He was basically flat in shooting percentage, high danger conversion ... everything to the previous year.

2016-17 70gp 23-18-41 11.4%
2017-18 71gp 25-19-44 12.4%

He could have just fallen off a cliff, but his chance rates show he's been pretty unlucky.

Utilization would have him off 10% on his numbers ... 2-3 goals, 4-5 points, but the rest is lack of finish despite getting the chances.

You might be right. But he had 3 goals in his last 24 games last season, and 1 goal in his last 17.


So maybe he's unlucky, or maybe he's getting off the same kind of chances and shots, but his shot is no longer what it was.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:12 PM   #26
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His shot has looked bad a lot, but pretty good at other times. HIs breakway attempt was a good shot. His assist was a heavy shot. The goal Gaudreau and Vailmaki set up was a real snipe. IIRC he's had a few hard posts.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:24 PM   #27
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Excellent write up Bingo and I hope you are feeling much better.

I never really gave a lot of credence to these types of stats until I read your articles and better understood them. I appreciate your guidance, so to speak.

Some people (like me), just don't grasp analytics well. And, as another poster has pointed out, some players, like Neal, aren't made for 'run and gun' hockey.

I love James Neal as a person. He is charitable and positive, and truly a natural leader. However, I think it's evident that the Flames are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole at this point. It's unfortunate, but Neal is a better fit for a different type of team, imo.

I hope I am wrong. I would love to see him gel and start scoring. I hate seeing him so disappointed, especially in himself.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:28 PM   #28
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Don't get me wrong ... there's plenty not to like from the eye test.

I think Hanna Sniper pointed out he doesn't seem to have that extra ounce of give a rip in trying to get the puck back or backchecking ... hate that. And clearly he's not all that quick.

But when I started digging into this I expected to see a much bigger drop off in shot and chance rates, to suggest he's not getting into position at all anymore. Luckily that wasn't the case.

This was always a 20 goal 20 assist player, and not a high impact offensive guy. At the mid point of the season he should be 10/11 and 10/22 and instead he's just under half of that.

Still think he finishes near 15 goals and 30 points and then bounces back a touch next year.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:40 PM   #29
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Excellent write up Bingo and I hope you are feeling much better.

I never really gave a lot of credence to these types of stats until I read your articles and better understood them. I appreciate your guidance, so to speak.

Some people (like me), just don't grasp analytics well. And, as another poster has pointed out, some players, like Neal, aren't made for 'run and gun' hockey.

I love James Neal as a person. He is charitable and positive, and truly a natural leader. However, I think it's evident that the Flames are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole at this point. It's unfortunate, but Neal is a better fit for a different type of team, imo.

I hope I am wrong. I would love to see him gel and start scoring. I hate seeing him so disappointed, especially in himself.
But Vegas? Heck, Pittsburgh? They played fast, if not run and gun.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:56 PM   #30
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But Vegas? Heck, Pittsburgh? They played fast, if not run and gun.
I don't know of any team who plays as fast as Calgary at this point. Is there a stat for quickness?
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:05 PM   #31
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I don't know of any team who plays as fast as Calgary at this point. Is there a stat for quickness?
I don;t know, but I don't consider the guys he's played with to be exceptionally quick. They aren't slow by any means.

But Vegas played super fast in transition last year. And Pittsburgh always pushed the play.

FWIW, I think TB plays faster than Calgary and the Leafs push the pace pretty good too.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:27 PM   #32
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You might be right. But he had 3 goals in his last 24 games last season, and 1 goal in his last 17.


So maybe he's unlucky, or maybe he's getting off the same kind of chances and shots, but his shot is no longer what it was.
You can't just ignore his 6 goals in the playoffs and claim it's a trend starting from last season.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:10 PM   #33
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You can't just ignore his 6 goals in the playoffs and claim it's a trend starting from last season.

Can't ignore it no, and if Neal turns it up in this year's playoffs, then his painful season will undoubtedly be forgiven.


But it's increasingly starting to look like his playoff performance was an anomaly.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:25 PM   #34
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I'd say that from my eye test, Neal has probably played well and looked dangerous in 25% of his games. If he had a bit more luck and confidence, he maybe scores in those games and would have 10 right now and we aren't really discussing him.

Fans have to realize that Neal is only good at one thing, scoring. You shouldn't get upset if he loses a board battle or isn't busting his ass to back check, because he NEVER did that, even when he was scoring 40 goals.

Neal is about as one dimensional a player as you can find. He was signed simply for the fact that he has scored 20 goals 10 consecutive seasons prior to this one.

His one job is to score 20 goals each year (well maybe they didn't expect 20 in the 4th and 5th years of his contract).

Tre probably thought this signing was the surest thing he could do. "He scores 20 every year, what could possibly go wrong?".
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:34 PM   #35
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But Vegas? Heck, Pittsburgh? They played fast, if not run and gun.
I think specifically, Neal canít play the give and go style the top line plays. When Lindholm plays on the top line, together they just have the collective hockey iq and ability to play a successful give and go style whereas with Neal, Iím not sure weíve even seen a successful chance on the rush with him on the top line.

I donít think that means Neal canít succeed on a fast team. If anything, he might actually need that because, like Treliving has said in the past, Neal plays well when his linemates play with pace.

But to me itís not just about playing with pace, itís more so, can his linemates break down the defense and find an open James Neal who comes in late as the trailer or find him when he gets lost in coverage?

To me, thatís where the disconnect is. Does this team have the right kind of playmakers to make Neal successful? Iím not sure we do.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:39 PM   #36
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But Vegas? Heck, Pittsburgh? They played fast, if not run and gun.
He is older and never was super fast.

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Old 01-11-2019, 05:48 PM   #37
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Hopefully he figures it out this season, if not, I'd be willing to bet he reaches 20 next season.
He's just not shooting how he normally shoots, every time I see him get a SOG, it's right into the crest.


Went for float in the sensory dep tank today and sent Neal my energy. Tonight will be the beginning of his hot streak.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:50 PM   #38
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Don't get me wrong ... there's plenty not to like from the eye test.

I think Hanna Sniper pointed out he doesn't seem to have that extra ounce of give a rip in trying to get the puck back or backchecking ... hate that. And clearly he's not all that quick.

But when I started digging into this I expected to see a much bigger drop off in shot and chance rates, to suggest he's not getting into position at all anymore. Luckily that wasn't the case.

This was always a 20 goal 20 assist player, and not a high impact offensive guy. At the mid point of the season he should be 10/11 and 10/22 and instead he's just under half of that.

Still think he finishes near 15 goals and 30 points and then bounces back a touch next year.
I donít know quite about always a 20/20 guy. That is a little low on the goals side compared to his history and with scoring up this year, youíd certainly have expected more than that coming into the year. His worst season I think was 23 goals?

But to your point, he is not and never really was, an offensive juggernaut. Which is a double edged sword as he doesnít really contribute in many other ways. There is the ďleadershipĒ angle but his history with prior teams suggests there are pros and cons there too.

I donít think he gets to 15 this year but hope he might get to 10. Thereís not a switch to flick for the playoffs and he needs to have atleast some confidence going in.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:50 PM   #39
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I'd say that from my eye test, Neal has probably played well and looked dangerous in 25% of his games. If he had a bit more luck and confidence, he maybe scores in those games and would have 10 right now and we aren't really discussing him.

Fans have to realize that Neal is only good at one thing, scoring. You shouldn't get upset if he loses a board battle or isn't busting his ass to back check, because he NEVER did that, even when he was scoring 40 goals.

Neal is about as one dimensional a player as you can find. He was signed simply for the fact that he has scored 20 goals 10 consecutive seasons prior to this one.

His one job is to score 20 goals each year (well maybe they didn't expect 20 in the 4th and 5th years of his contract).

Tre probably thought this signing was the surest thing he could do. "He scores 20 every year, what could possibly go wrong?".
I like to think he was signed because he makes it to the Stanley cup finsls.

Further, in my model, his deviation from regular season expected goal levels translates to a deviation from the final series winner.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:47 AM   #40
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I think specifically, Neal canít play the give and go style the top line plays. When Lindholm plays on the top line, together they just have the collective hockey iq and ability to play a successful give and go style whereas with Neal, Iím not sure weíve even seen a successful chance on the rush with him on the top line.

I donít think that means Neal canít succeed on a fast team. If anything, he might actually need that because, like Treliving has said in the past, Neal plays well when his linemates play with pace.

But to me itís not just about playing with pace, itís more so, can his linemates break down the defense and find an open James Neal who comes in late as the trailer or find him when he gets lost in coverage?

To me, thatís where the disconnect is. Does this team have the right kind of playmakers to make Neal successful? Iím not sure we do.
I agree with that. I'm sure when he was signed there was thought he'd play with Johnny and that probably would work. But there's no way that's happening any more.
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