It’s been pretty obvious that Alexander Radulov has become a spark plug for this Dallas offense. With 42 points so far on the year, he has been nothing short of what Jim Nill expected of him when Radulov first signed with the team in July. His energy and explosive play not just offensively but on both sides of the ice has mixed with his ecstatic celebrations to become can’t-miss stuff. He has proved a necessity to this Dallas team and has quickly become a, if not the, fan favorite in Texas.
Radulov stacks up with the best at right wing, at 9th in total points among other NHL players in his position. He is now on a five-game point streak and playing what could be the best season of his NHL career. Eclipsing 54 points last season with Montreal and 58 with Nashville back in 2007, if he keeps up his pace it is very likely he can surpass those numbers this year with the Stars.
Alexander Radulov seems to have put his fingerprint on each and every game this season with Dallas, but not all games are created equal. So, statistically, where does Radulov play his best Hockey? Against the East, or against the West?
Making his return to the NHL last season with the Montreal Canadiens, he was put up against those Eastern conference teams night in and night out. It became a routine thing for him to get used to those match-ups and familiarize himself with the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Mark Stone or David Pastrnak, just to name a few of the best right wing talents in the East. Becoming used to those teams and those match-ups surely shows in Radulov’s point totals this year with Dallas.
So far Radulov has played in 46 games this season, only 17 of those being up against teams in the East. He has obtained 18 total points against teams in the East, having not obtained a point in four of them; Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Therefore, Radulov has managed to score 18 points in 13 of those games, which is absurd, but his point streaks explain why.
Before the Tampa Bay game, Radulov was sporting a six-game point streak against Eastern Conference teams where he put up 7 of those 18 points, until it was snapped by the Lightning. And then most recently he tallied six points in just three games against Detroit, Boston and New Jersey. So If it at all seems as if Radulov is not only making his presence known in the few Eastern conference match-ups but taking advantage, you’d be right.
In the other 29 games against Western conference opponents, Radulov has racked up 24 points, while having not acquired a point in 14 of those games, which can be scary in both directions. That means in 15 games Radulov has scored 24 points which is a great number in the stat sheet, but those other 14 games make this very questionable and raises concerns.
Against Western Conference opponents Radulov is either racking up the points or sitting there with nothing to show for the night. Up against the West it seems as if he is very streaky, which can be very good on those positive nights but on the others when the Stars need him to show and be that spark plug, he sometimes is not there.
In those moments when the Stars’ offense seems to halt to a stop, in my mind it is because Radulov cant get going and so the rest of the team that feeds off of him and his energy can’t either. This Stars team I believe feeds so much off of Radulov on offense that when the offense has been shaky and can’t seem to get anything going, he has been shaky with it. Those games Radulov is on point in everything he does, great, yet the other times he is not the team needs to learn how to find other outlets to get started.
Especially with the bulk of the season coming against the Western Conference, the Stars cannot afford for Radulov to be this streaky or to rely this much on him for an offensive groove. Yes the NHL season is a long road and you cannot expect players to perform at their highest night in and night out, yet I wonder if he needs to be more consistent against these teams out in the West for the Stars to continue an upward trend. Or perhaps the other lines need someone to step up when Radulov isn’t hot, someone to get down and make things happen offensively.
Alexander Radulov can shine as bright as any winger in the league, against the West or East. Yes, he has more points out in Western conference games this season. But his play against the Eastern conference arguably has proven to be more dominant and more consistent.