Adam Ruzicka made the Calgary Flames opening night roster, but it took until Game 8 for him to get some playing time. He was scratched for the next three games straight, but when Jonathan Huberdeau went down with an injury, Ruzicka had a chance to solidify himself in the Flames lineup. Ruzicka took full advantage of this opportunity and hasn’t been scratched since.
How impressive Ruzicka has been on his small stint?
Finally given the chance to play more than one game before getting scratched and getting to play with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli on the top line, Ruzicka has looked very very promising in his small seven-game stint so far.
Ruzicka currently sits tied sixth in points on the Flames with eight points in seven games. This puts him over a point-per-game pace if he plays every remaining game of the year. Now that pace is most likely unsustainable, but he should still put up around 30–40 points if he keeps his successful play going.
Ruzicka is coming off a strong performance in Flames’ most recent game as he put up three points in their 5–4 shootout win against the Florida Panthers.
Ruzicka’s great play can also be backed up by his underlying numbers. Taking a peak at his 5v5 numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com, we can see just how great of a fit Ruzicka has been and paint an even bigger picture of success.
Ruzicka currently has a 63.83 CF%, 64.38 SCF%, 63.39 xG%, and a 60.71 HDCF%. He ranks first on the team in CF%, SCF%, xG% and ranks second in HDCF%. First place on team in HDCF% is Michael Stone who has missed the past seven games. Another important thing to note is that he is putting these numbers up with a PDO of 0.881 meaning he has been quite unlucky. Now he hasn’t been unlucky with finishing as he ranks second on the team in an on-ice SH% with 12.64, what he has been unfortunate with is the goalies performance while his has been on the ice as he has the worst on-ice SV% with 76.00.
All these numbers I’ve talked about are juiced due to him only playing seven games, but there are still very impressive and should be talked about.
Ruzicka has been a great example of why the Flames should trust their young talent and give them opportunities to succeed more often.
Great results with linemates
A bigger part of Ruzicka success has been his linemates Lindholm and Toffoli. This isn’t to say he has been carried by them more of that they all seem to have great chemistry. Ever since Ruzicka has entered the lineup, Lindholm is first in points on the Flames with nine, Ruzicka in second with eight points, and Toffoli scored four points which ties him for fourth.
This line has posted some great underlying numbers as well. Looking at NaturalStatTrick.com once again, in 50+ minutes of ice time together, Ruzicka, Lindholm, and Toffoli have a 66.04 CF%, a 63.54 xG%, a 63.64 SCF% and a 60.87 HDCF%.
Obviously, 50 minutes is a small sample size, but this line has been amazing in those 50 minutes. I wouldn’t break it up until they start to struggle or slow down in production.
Taking a deeper dive into Ruzicka’s performance with analytic models
First looking at the chart from HockeyViz.com, we can see the impact Ruzicka makes in both zones of the ice. To start, with Ruzicka on the ice, the Flames’ offence becomes way more effective. With him they have a +31% which is insanely good and xGF/60 of 3.62 compared to without where they have a +2% which is pretty good and xGF/60 of 2.80.
Now moving to the defensive end, Ruzicka’s impact is also phenomenal. Once again, with him on the ice they have -28% which is also insanely good and only a xGA/60 of 1.97 and without him they have -6% which is still good and a xGA/60 of 2.58.
Switching over to JFresh, we will be taking a look at his 2021–23 cards. We can see that Ruzicka has made improvements in every important aspect this season. His even strength offence going up 17% to 39%, a difference of +22%, even strength defence boosting up 14% from 46% to 59%, and even his finishing improving a minor 3%, going from 81% to 84%.
Adam Ruzicka should stay in the NHL
Adam Ruzicka has finally been given a real opportunity to produce at the NHL level and he is taking full advantage of it. Sitting sixth in points on the Flames and currently being over point per game, Ruzicka has looked very impressive in his small stint so far and has been showing why it’s important to give your young talent some chances to succeed. He sits first on the Flames in most metrics such as xG% and CF%.
Ruzicka has seemed to have natural chemistry with Lindholm and Toffoli and they have been a dominant trio in their time together. When we dive deeper and look at some analytic models, we can see that Ruzicka has improved since last year and the Flames are much better team with him on the ice. Ruzicka has made strong impacts at both ends of the ice and has looked like a full time NHLer.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire