Right and Wrong: Good Stats, Bad Stats

Here we have a short survey of ailments currently plaguing every NHL team as well as a redeeming quality. These are by no means definitive reasons as to why a team is succeeding or failing. They’re accessory statistics that might give you a bit of extra insight into the play of teams across the league. If you want to elaborate on your favourite team or shred me for not knowing your team as well as you do, then please use the comment section to sound your barbaric yawp across the internet world.

Anaheim Ducks: If you can find a way to come out of the first period ahead of the Ducks, victory is almost assured. The Ducks have yet to record a win this season when trailing after the first period. Conversely, if you find yourself down to the Ducks, there’s almost no chance of coming back. The Ducks have no lost a single game when leading after the first.

Boston Bruins: They’re tied in the standings with current league juggernauts and dynasties in the making, Winnipeg and Montreal. Ahem. They’re winning, and scoring like it’s a fedora on campus going out of style (13 goals in past two games). Too bad those victories were against October champions, Toronto, and nobody’s champions, Long Island.

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres appear to enjoy living by the skin of their teeth. The Sabres have played 13 games and 7 of them have been decided by a single goal. They have lost the most one-goal games (4) and have also won three one-goal games. Their offense is middle of the pack with the 14th most goals scored so it appears as though Buffalo just has a knack for the dramatic.

Calgary Flames: This is a team that’s just offensively starved. The Flames have only scored 20 goals in five on five situations and the sixth least goals scored in the league with 30 (including their league leading 3 empty net goals, which would drop them down to a tie for third least if they weren’t counted). The good news is they’ve received good goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, which has been enough to keep their goal differential modest (-2) but until this team receives some offensive support, it might be a long meddling season.

Carolina Hurricanes: They need to find ways to beat teams in their own division. I suppose with .464 winning percentage, they need to find ways to beat other teams too. Their 1-3-1 record against Southeast Division teams would be a good place to start if they have any chance of making the playoffs. If they want to make the playoffs, they’ll need more Skinner-like production from other members of the team. Skinner is currently a PPG player (14points) despite being a team worst, -7.

Chicago Blackhawks: Although the have the fifth most goals scored, 29 goals have been scored at home in eight games (3.63 goals per-game), while they’ve only managed 15 goals on the road in six games (2.5 goals per-game). They are one of several teams tied for most short handed goals scored while having only been in short handed situations 44 times, the 5th least in the league.

Columbus Blue Jackets: the better question may be, “What could possibly go right?” What can you say about a team whose leading scorer is Vinny Prospal? They’re 2-8-0 in their past 10 games which is actually paints a beautiful picture compared to their heinous 2-11-1 record overall. Everything about this team has been worthy of the compost pile except the play of highly regarded rookie Ryan Johansen.  He’s been enjoying playing in front of the hometown crowd this year and has rewarded them with three goals and one assist in six home games. Although they may be pushed around on the score sheet, at least the Blue Jackets don’t get pushed around on the ice. They lead the NHL with 381 hits.

Colorado Avalanche: Haven’t been playing very well even strength. The team is currently -6 in five on five situations. This is clearly a team that is heavily reliant upon its strong power play unit which boasts a league best 26.7% with 12 goals scored. They’re 3-0 on the season in shootouts so at least they’re taking points where they can get them.

Dallas Stars: Now I’m really going to nitpick because this team has played so well to start the season. If we were looking for flaws, and we are, the Stars have allowed the second most shots against of any team in the league (33.2 against per-game). This team is playing quite well and we’ll have to wait a little longer to identify some truly meaningful stats.

Detroit Red Wings: Detroit has the fifth least goals scored in the league with 29 (how has Calgary scored more than Detroit?). Fortunately, the Wings lead the league with a very low, 26 shots against per-game. As you might expect, they have Jimmy Howard between the pipes sporting a remarkable 1.77 GAA as a result.

Edmonton Oilers: Scoring depth is an early season woe for the Oilers. Their top two goal scorers, Smyth and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for 12 goals. The rest of the roster has chipped in only 17. They’re currently 25th in the league in goals scored. Luckily, they lead the league with 1.54 goals against per-game.

Florida Panthers: Don’t look now but they’ve already racked up three straight shootout losses in this young season. Those are the things that come back to hurt you in April. On the Brightside, at least they’re taking games to the shootout and not getting blown in 60 minutes. They’ve also taken the least amount of minor penalties in the league (40) so at least they’re not finding unnecessary ways to take themselves out of games.

Los Angeles Kings: Started out incredibly strong but have since fallen back to earth by losing six of their past seven games and being outscored 22-13 over those games. Perhaps it was Bill Simmon’s kiss of death or maybe it’s because Drew Doughty still hasn’t recovered from missing training camp.

Minnesota Wild: They’ve had terrible contributions from their blueline this season. The Wild d-corps have registered 13 points this season, while only chipping in four goals (two were PP goals).  What’s the good news here? Most of their players are plus and the quiet play has the Wild currently sitting in fifth place in the West with a goal differential of +4 as they ride a four game winning streak.

Montreal Canadiens: Obviously, it’s all Perry Pearn’s fault. Pierre Gauthier already told us. Who are we to say any different?

Nashville Predators: Currently see the most shots against per-game out of any team in the league at 33.3. What’s the good news about this? They have Pekka Rinne (and they have him for a long time now so he better be good). Rinne is currently rocking a 2.33 GAA and .929 SV% with 3 shutouts on the season.

New Jersey Devils: They just can’t seem to find the back of the net. They’re in the bottom three in the goals scored this season and they have the least missed shots in the NHL. They’re also 19th in the league in shots per-game and have one of the worst shooting percentages in the league (7.8%). Memo: Shoot the puck more. The good news is Ilya Kovalchuk is putting up close to a point a game. Too bad most of those points are assists (2 goals, 7 assists in 11 games).

New York Islanders: The Islanders have scored 25 goals this season. John Tavares has eight of those goals. In fact, he has twice as much as the next leading scorer, Michael Grabner. Just how bad are the Islander’s scoring woes? Only six players have been able to find the net more than once this season. Amazingly, Islander defenseman Mark Eaton is a +1 through 12 games while averaging 15:29 a game. Not bad for a team with a  -10 goal differential.

New York Rangers: What’s got two thumbs and reeks of a desperation move? This guy. Another area of player concern is with Brandon Dubinsky, he only has 6 assists in 13 games without a single goal scored. The Rangers were counting on him to build upon his 24 goals from 2010-11 so he has a long way to go to reach those numbers, let alone surpass them. Despite this, the Rangers have been red hot over their last 10 going 7-2-1 in that stretch while doing some serious damage in front of the MSG faithful (4-1-1 at home).

Ottawa Senators: What a paradox this team is. Their penalty killing is in the bottom five in the league and they’ve given up the most goals of any team in the NHL. This is the same team that also boasts the third best power play in the league and is among the top 10 in goals scored. Despite having a negative goal differential (-5) they’re still in the early season hunt for a playoff spot, for now.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby still can’t give a straight answer. Aside from that, not much is wrong with this team at the moment as they lead the league with 21 points through 15 games and a million interviews about Crosby’s health.

Philadelphia Flyers: Their goaltending still stinks like a rugby bag full of ammonia as they’ve given up the seventh most goals in the entire league (43). It didn’t matter for the Oilers of the 80’s and it doesn’t matter for the Flyers of today either. Nothing matters when you’re scoring four goals a game on average (56 total) and have nine more goals than the next best team. Swing big, Philadelphia.

Phoenix Coyotes: Phoenix has dropped crucial points in the shootout this season, having dropped the first two contests. Had they own these games, they would be vaulted into third place in the conference. For now, this team is playing quite well and every player who has played in at least 10 games has registered at least 2 points. Keep an eye on defenseman David Schlemko, who played in 43 games last season, and is currently +9 with 6 points after 12 games while averaging 18:22 a game.

San Jose Sharks: Currently boast the second worst penalty kill percentage in the NHL (72.3%) and not surprisingly, have given up the third most power play goals against with 13 so far this season. Interestingly enough, much like Ottawa, San Jose has one of the better power plays this season. They are going at a 21.3% clip, good enough to tie them for seventh best in the league and fourth best in the conference.

St. Louis Blues: Surely they could have found another way to retard the development of their young team instead of hiring Hitchcock. We’ll see how long it takes Hitchcock to be presented with his walking papers. This is my pick for the biggest wrong of the week.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have allowed 18 goals against in the first period, the third most in the NHL. They have only led coming out of the first period once this whole season. So they better be good at comebacks. They have been, the Lightning have come back twice this season after being down after the first to win the game and have five wins after leading the game going into the third period.

Toronto Maple Leafs: When looking at the top teams in the NHL one stat sticks out like a sore thumb. The Leafs have the fourth best record in the NHL but are the only team in the top 13 to have a negative goal differential. Either the Leafs will have to correct this stat or they’ll find themselves sliding down the table faster than Tim Connolly to the IR. The good news is you can throw a lot of the blame on Gustavsson for now. Reimer has had far superior numbers this season  and when healthy, should help the Leafs improve on that ugly stat.

Washington Capitals: With 18 points in 12 games and holding three games in hand against conference leaders, Pittsburgh, far be it for me to say there’s anything wrong with this team so far.

Winnipeg Jets: Oh home sweet home Winnipeg. The Jets obviously miss the friendly confines of the MTS centre. Having played the most road games of any team so far this season, the Jets have only managed to score 2.5 goals per-game on the road and have been outscored in those games 33-25. Not that they’ve done much better at home, scoring a mere nine goals in four home games (2.25 goals per-game). Although to be fair, the lack of offense has not killed them at home yet this season as they’re at .500 on home ice. They’re improving too, over their past ten games, their record stands at 4-4-2.

Vancouver Canucks: Let’s chalk this start up to a Stanley Cup playoff hangover. Keith Ballard and Kevin Bieksa both have +/- that would make a PGA player blush. Roberto Luongo has been outplayed by backup Cory Schneider and this looks like a tired Canucks team. The good news is, their best players have still been their best players. The Sedins are scoring at their usual pace and the rest of the usual suspects are finding their way.