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Inside the Numbers

Failure on power play dims offenses in playoffs

Friday, 06.07.2013 / 12:07 PM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Someone has turned off the power in the conference finals in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Through two rounds and 71 games, teams were converting on exactly 18 percent of their power-play chances, helping to keep the average goals per game over five (5.26 through 48 games in the first round, 5.08 through round two).

But the four teams battling for a berth in the Stanley Cup Final have done next to nothing with the extra man so far.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have combined to go scoreless in 22 power-play chances. That's especially damaging for the Penguins, who during the regular season ranked second in the League with the man advantage and led all playoff teams in power-play goals and percentage coming into this round.

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Numbers: Home is the place to be this spring

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Teams give it all they've got to get home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This spring, home ice has actually been an advantage worth having.

Home teams won 30 of the 47 games played in this year's conference quarterfinals – a huge turnaround from their 18-30 record in the first round last year. But that was just a warm-up for the second round, in which home teams went 20-4, up from 14-7 last year and the most wins by home teams in the conference semifinals under the current playoff format.

Entering the conference finals on Saturday, home teams are 50-21, a .704 winning percentage that's light years ahead of last year's figure of .453 (39-47) and still well ahead of the .612 percentage in 1993, the best by home teams in the past 20 years. If home teams lost every game in the next two rounds, those 50 wins would still be more than they managed in any of the past three years; home teams were 50-35 in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Home teams haven't won more than 50 games in one playoff season since they were 52-37 in 2004.

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Penguins, Kings using different styles to win

Friday, 05.24.2013 / 9:10 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings are one win away from advancing to the conference finals of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. If they wind up meeting in the Final, the Penguins and Kings would present one of the biggest contrasts in style we've seen in years.

The Penguins enter this weekend's action leading all teams in playoff scoring. They piled up 25 goals while beating the New York Islanders in six games to win their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, and scored 16 more while winning three of the first four against the Ottawa Senators in their second-round series.

Pittsburgh is averaging 4.1 goals per game; only the Boston Bruins (3.22) and Senators (3.18) are above three goals per game.

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Home ice not an advantage for everyone

Friday, 05.17.2013 / 9:48 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The home-ice advantage has been a two-pronged sword so far this spring.

On the one hand, home teams are piling up victories. Home teams were 30-17 in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's a huge improvement from last year, when they were 22-27, or 2011, when they were 21-28.

Add in five wins in as many games in the second round and home teams own a 35-17 advantage. They were just 46-43 in both 2010 and '11 before going 39-47 last spring -- one in which the Los Angeles Kings went 10-1 away from home on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Of the 16 teams involved in the opening round, just five didn't lose at least one game at home; only the Kings and New York Rangers went 3-0.

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Defending champion Kings on verge of rare comeback

Friday, 05.10.2013 / 10:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of doing something they've done only once since entering the NHL in 1967 -- coming from two games down to win a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Kings take the ice at Staples Center for Game 6 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS) with the chance to wrap up the series after losing the first two games. In the previous 10 best-of-7 series in which the Kings lost the first two games, they won only once -- against Detroit in 2001, when, like this spring, they lost the first two games on the road.

Of course, having to come from behind is a stark contrast from last year for the Kings, who became the first team ever to win the first three games of all four best-of-7 series on the way to the Stanley Cup.

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Second seeds could benefit most from format change

Friday, 05.03.2013 / 10:00 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

This is the final season of the current format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- realignment next season will separate the 30 teams into four groupings instead of six, and some teams will switch conferences. Teams that have been seeded second in the opening round of the playoffs under the current format probably won't mind the changes.

Since the current setup was adopted for the 1994 playoffs, only 20 of the 36 No. 2 seeds have managed to beat the No. 7 seed and advance to the second round. That's the fewest of any of the four pairings -- even though the 3-6 and 4-5 matchups involve teams closer to each other in the standings.

However, the 36 matchups between teams seeded No. 3 and No. 6 have seen the third-seeded team go 23-13 -- the same record No. 4 seeds have against No. 5 seeds.

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Dub Ovechkin 'Mr. April' after record-setting month

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 9:57 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Reggie Jackson is baseball's Mr. October. Alex Ovechkin is making a case to be this season's Mr. April.

After a slow start mirroring that of his team, Ovechkin has carried the Washington Capitals to their fifth Southeast Division title in six seasons with the kind of offensive burst he hadn't shown for a couple of seasons.

The Capitals went 14-2-1 in a 17-game stretch that carried them from 14th in the Eastern Conference to the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week. Much of the credit belongs to Ovechkin, whose 14 goals this month are the most ever scored in April -- the 14th came in Thursday night's 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators, two nights after Ovi scored the clincher in a 5-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets that wrapped up the division.

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Kings and Red Wings ready for Rivalry Night

Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 9:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

This season's final edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry matches a pair of Western Conference teams with differing priorities.

The Los Angeles Kings come to Joe Louis Arena looking for points to assure themselves of fourth place in the Western Conference, which would give them the home-ice edge in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings are just worried about getting to the postseason; they come into the game outside the top eight, and should they stay that way, they'll miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

Here's a look at two teams with plenty to play for as the season winds down:

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New month sees striking turnaround by Elliott

Friday, 04.19.2013 / 9:22 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It's hard to imagine a more remarkable turnaround than the one St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott has undergone this month.

After a career year in 2011-12 (1.56 goals-against average, .940 save percentage), Elliott played the first 10 weeks of the new season looking more like the goaltender who had to sign a two-way contract with St. Louis in the summer of 2011 and barely made the Blues' roster. He had a 3-6-1 record, a 3.65 GAA and a save percentage of .851 through the end of March, and was sent down to the American Hockey League late last month for a brief conditioning stint.

Whatever Elliott worked on with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL must have made a huge difference, because he's been a completely different player this month.

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Numbers show Sabres are tough foe for Bruins

Wednesday, 04.17.2013 / 11:21 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins head into their Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN/TSN2) have different reasons for needing the two points from their final meeting of the regular season.

The Sabres still have faint hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning over the weekend -- but they'll likely have to run the table in their final five games to have a chance. The Bruins will be taking the ice for the first time since the Boston Marathon tragedy on Monday as they battle the Montreal Canadiens for place in the Northeast Division.

Here's a statistical look at intense Northeast Division rivals:

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— Islanders captain John Tavares after a 4-1 win against the Penguins tied the teams atop the Metropolitan Division standings
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