NHL East Division Notebook: Penguins Injury Bug, K’Andre Miller, Trent Frederic

Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images

All eight East division teams take the ice against each other tonight, with the Washington Capitals still in the lead with 11 points. They have yet to suffer a loss in regulation this year but they also have been defeated three times in overtime.

They will face the New York Islanders, in which the Capitals won the previous contest in extra time. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins wrap up their two game set, with the former getting the better of the two last time out.

The New Jersey Devils, led by second-year forward and last year’s first overall pick Jack Hughes, look to rebound against the Philadelphia Flyers. Finally the New York Rangers look to get back on track against the Buffalo Sabres.

Next, some notes and observations from around the division.

Penguins Injury Bug Continues To Strike

The Penguins started the season with four left-handed defensemen - Brian Dumoulin, Mike Matheson, Marcus Pettersson, and Juuso Riikola. Now in what will be their eighth game of the season, Pittsburgh may be forced to play in a game with none of them healthy enough to dress in.

Matheson was the first to go out with an injury, with Pettersson and Riikola following suit by getting hurt in the same game. Dumoulin was the latest victim, leaving Tuesday’s game with an injury and his status up in the air for Thursday.

Pittsburgh signed Yannick Weber to a contract, but he won’t be available right away as he follows quarantine protocols, and must clear waivers first.

If Dumoulin is unable to go on Thursday, the only other defenseman on the taxi squad would be Kevin Czuczman, a 30-year old journeyman who hasn’t played in a NHL game since the 2013-2014 season.

John Marino did not practice either today, although he was able to finish out the game on Tuesday - there has been no update on him either.

K’Andre Miller’s Rapid Ascension

It seems like every time that I watch a young, U.S. born player on the World Junior team and he catches my attention there is a good bet that the New York Rangers drafted him.

Add Miller to that sentiment , like Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider (Ryan Bourque was another as well as JT Miller) before them. 

Boy was he worth every bit of hype so far this season. 

In just six games, Miller has flew to the top of the depth chart, an even amazing feat considering the limited training camp along with no exhibition games.

Miller, 21, has registered a goal and an assist so far this season in six games and despite the team struggles, his individual metrics have been strong. The Wisconsin product has posted a positive 51.74 Corsi-For% and 80.0% of the goals scored while he has been on the ice has been by the Rangers.

His expected goal share is far more tamed down but still in his teams favor.

It’s going to be fun to watch him continue to grow, especially on a blue line that already includes Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox.

Can Trent Frederic Find The Offense With Opportunity?

Going through the draft process, Frederic just seemed like a player you could definitely see the Bruins going after, just maybe not in the first round.

They did anyways, which probably put a little bit extra on Frederic’s plate than maybe necessary. He put up good numbers in college and in the minors but that hasn’t translated to the NHL, just yet.

In 23 games with the Bruins over three separate seasons, Frederic has yet to register a goal and has just a lone assist.

His offensive upside has always been in question, and it did appear he was taking on a fourth line/grinder role in Providence the year before with 148 penalty minutes in 59 AHL games.

He has gotten an opportunity the last couple of games to play with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith - two offensive minded forwards.

Frederic’s advanced metrics at 5v5 has been out of this world so far this season. He hasn’t been scored on yet this year at 5v5, and his puck possession (57.46 CF%) and expected goal share (66.5 xGF%) are well above average.

When put on a line with Smith and Coyle, the trio have scored at a rate of over six goals per 60 minutes played together, haven’t been scored on at 5v5 and has an expected goal share of over 80%.

Those are insane numbers for him to not be putting up the points to go with it.

The talent is there. We could see it in his first career point, an assist on a goal scored by Coyle. Others have taken notice and realize he isn’t far off from the hard work he has been putting in finally paying off.

“He’s not tried to do too much. He’s playing hard, he’s winning battles,” Said Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand of Frederic. “He continues to get more comfortable with the pace and with the puck. He just seems to make the right play all the time. He’s not trying to be too flash. He’s making simple plays, hard plays, but direct.”

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