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What are the surprise statistics at the All-Star break?

Thursday, 01.27.2011 / 11:42 AM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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What are the surprise statistics at the All-Star break?
What are the biggest surprises of the season? Is it Ovechkin's power outage? Tampa's scoring? Recchi's ageless performance? NHL.com answers those questions.
Numbers are such a big part of the game. They drive scouting and lead to postseason awards. They let us know where a team is most dangerous and where it's most vulnerable. Ditto for players.

Coaches will say they hate stats and players will say they don't concern themselves with them, but it's hard to believe any of that is true. Stats are painted on every story we write and every piece of analysis we give.

They lead to debates, sometimes bitter arguments. They are the backbone to selecting players for an All-Star Game.

We've taken a look at hundreds of stats through the first half of the season and drawn a conclusion on the five we find to be the most interesting. You may disagree, but that's only because you found different stats that blow your hair back.

There's no right or wrong here, but we think our list offers some pretty unique figures:

1. Powerless Ovi -- Alex Ovechkin entered this season with 91 power-play goals, the most of any player in the League since the work stoppage. He has just 2 this season and both came in the same game, Oct. 30 at Calgary. He scored them 12 seconds apart.

This means Ovechkin hasn't scored a power-play goal in his last 40 games, or 133 power-play chances. Previous to this season his longest power-play drought came in the first 15 games of the 2008-09 season, but Ovechkin finished that season with 19 power-play goals.

It's no surprise that without his power-play production Ovechkin is on pace for a career-low 30 goals this season and the Capitals are scoring far fewer goals than we've grown accustomed to seeing from them.

2. Rangers nearly perfect when leading -- John Tortorella has to be proud of this stat because it defines what his gritty, tough, grind-it-out team is all about.

When the Rangers get a lead, they just about can't be beaten.

New York has lost only twice in regulation when leading a game at the first intermission (11-2-1). It's a perfect 19-0-0 when leading after two periods.

Perhaps just as remarkable is the opposite stat -- how are the Rangers when they trail in a game?

They lead the NHL with seven wins when trailing after two periods and have earned a point for forcing a game into overtime three other times (7-13-3).

3. Aging like a winner -- Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who turns 43 years old Feb. 1, is the NHL's most senior citizen, but he's still as clutch as he was 20 years ago.

Recchi is tied with seven 20-something kids (at least they are to him) with 6 game-winning goals this season, only three shy of his career-high 9, which he scored in 1990-91 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two of the players he's tied with -- Steven Stamkos and Logan Couture -- are less than half his age.

Four of Recchi's 6 game-winners have come in the third period, including two in the final minute. He also has an overtime goal.

4. Tampa's stunning goal differential -- Try making sense of this:

The Lightning have given up three more goals (152) than they've scored this season (149), yet they're second in the Eastern Conference and third in the NHL with 67 points.

By comparison, Pittsburgh has a plus-39 goal differential (151 goals for vs. 112 goals-against), yet Tampa Bay has the same amount of wins and one more point than the Penguins. Florida has a plus-1 goal differential but 18 fewer points than the Lightning.

Why are the Lightning still so good despite their negative goal differential?

Well, they've come back to earn points in 14 of the 24 games in which they've given up the first goal (12-10-2). They're a League-best 11-5 in games decided after regulation, and they're tied for the League lead with 17 one-goal victories while also losing 10 games by three or more goals, including a pair of 6-0 defeats and two other 8-1 losses.

5. Shootout sensations -- NHL players average one goal per every three shootout attempts. So, yes, the goalie most definitely has the advantage in the post-overtime skills competition.

Except, there isn't a goalie in the League who can claim they have the odds in their favor when the Rangers' Mats Zuccarello and Buffalo's Thomas Vanek are coming down on them.

Zuccarello and Vanek are each a perfect 4-for-4 in the shootout this season with a combined three game-deciding goals. Zuccarello, who has played in only 17 games this season, has earned the Rangers an extra point twice and Vanek has clinched the extra point for the Sabres once.

Only Alex Tanguay, with 6 goals in 10 attempts, has more shootout goals this season than Zuccarello and Vanek. Brad Boyes also has 4 shootout goals, but he has missed three times as well. Brad Richards is 4-for-8.

Zuccarello can, in fact, call himself the League's most prolific shootout scorer of all time because nobody else has as many as 4 goals without a miss. Vanek was just 8-for-34 in his career entering this season.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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