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Inside the Numbers

Numbers: Plenty to note from past 15-game days

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 10:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The NHL's regular season is going out with a bang.

For just the fourth time in its history, all 30 teams will be playing on the same day. But for the first time, they'll be doing so not in October but on the final night of the regular season.

For the first time since 1928, the NHL's regular season ends on a Saturday (the last non-Sunday close was 2005-06, when the final day was a Tuesday). But for the first time since the NHL became a 30-team League, everyone finishes on the same night.

Blues duo equal Esposito's single-season mark

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 10:01 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Jaroslav Halak
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 25-11-7
GAA: 1.92 | SVP: 0.927
It took two goalies and 42 years to accomplish what Tony Esposito did by himself in 1969-70 -- pile up 15 shutouts in a season, the modern-day record for zeroes by a goaltender.

The combined 15 shutouts recorded by Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak are the most by an NHL team in a season since Esposito had 15 all by himself for the Chicago Black Hawks (think old school) in 1969-70.

Needless to say, both teams gave their goalies plenty of support. But in the case of Elliott and Halak, most of the support came on the defensive end; Espo got more help from his attackers.

East, West in tight race for head-to-head supremacy

Friday, 03.23.2012 / 10:38 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Western Conference has beaten up on the East in interconference matchups since the current setup was established in 2005-06. But after a slow start this season, the East has a chance to come out on top for the first time since the adoption of the shootout and the elimination of ties seven years ago.

With 255 of the 270 interconference games in the books, Western Conference teams have won 128 times (128-87-40, 502 winning percentage) to 127 (127-94-34, .498 winning percentage) for the East. It's the closest the East has been to the break-even point under the current rules -- the West has never had a winning percentage of less than .522 in the first six seasons under the current rules. San Jose's 2-1 win against Boston on Thursday kept the East from going ahead.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been especially good against the West -- Thursday's 5-1 victory against Nashville gave the Penguins a 13-2-3 mark against the opposite conference. Should the Pens and St. Louis Blues meet in the Stanley Cup Final, the battle would be especially interesting; the Blues' 14-2-2 mark against the East is the best by any team against the other conference.

Kovalchuk, Varlamov emerging as shootout stars

Friday, 03.16.2012 / 10:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's too bad the Colorado Avalanche opted to play Jean-Sebastien Giguere instead of Semyon Varlamov in goal at New Jersey on Thursday -- the fans at Prudential Center would have been treated to perhaps the best shootout matchup since the tiebreaker was adopted in 2005.

New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk has turned into the NHL's deadliest shootout sniper and Varlamov has become a brick wall in the tiebreaker. It's an amazing turnaround for both players, neither of whom had been very successful in shootouts before this season.

Kovalchuk, one of the NHL's most dangerous scorers during the past decade, entered 2011-12 with 11 shootout goals in 42 attempts, a 26.2-percent success rate that's well below the League average of about 32 percent -- and far below what you'd expect from a player with nine straight 30-goal seasons. But with some advice from goaltender Martin Brodeur, Kovalchuk has become a terror in the tiebreaker. He scored for the 10th time in 12 tries against Giguere on Thursday, becoming the fourth player to score 10 shootout goals in one season -- and breaking the single-season mark with his seventh game-deciding goal.

Stamkos ready to join elite club

Friday, 03.09.2012 / 11:05 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 48 | ASST: 34 | PTS: 82
SOG: 235 | +/-: 5
He didn't do it on Thursday. But sometime soon -- perhaps as soon as Saturday night against Carolina -- Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos is poised to join an exclusive club.

Stamkos is two goals away from becoming the NHL's first 50-goal scorer this season. When he does, he'll join an elite group of six players who've had multiple 50-goal seasons before their 23rd birthday (he turned 22 on Feb. 7). Wayne Gretzky did it four times; Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Joe Nieuwendyk and Alex Ovechkin each had two seasons with at least 50 goals before turning 23 -- though Bossy, Nieuwendyk and Ovechkin had the disadvantage of not playing in the NHL until after their 20th birthdays.

Blues defying the odds by winning with No. 1 goalies

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 9:49 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Most NHL teams, especially successful ones, have a defined No. 1 and No. 2 goaltender. The St. Louis Blues are defying that trend this season.

The Blues started with Jaroslav Halak as the clear No. 1, backed up by Brian Elliott. But when Halak struggled in the early going and Davis Payne was replaced as coach by Ken Hitchcock, Elliott got a chance to show what he can do -- and has carved out a nearly even share of playing time. Elliott enters the weekend leading the NHL with a 1.63 goals-against average

Halak hardly has been a slouch, however -- he's 5-1-0 in his last six starts after beating Edmonton 5-2 on Wednesday, and is fourth in the NHL with a 1.94 goals-against average.

A statistical look at 2011-12 at three-quarter mark

Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 10:53 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's hard to believe, but the 2011-12 regular season is in the home stretch. The three-quarter mark passed Saturday night, and less than six weeks remain before all 30 teams wrap the regular-season.

Here's a look at the season so far, by the numbers:

0 -- Shootout victories by the Carolina Hurricanes. The 'Canes are the only team that has yet to win a post-overtime tiebreaker (they've lost six), and are trying to avoid becoming only the second team since the shootout was adopted to go through a whole season without winning one. The only one so far: the 2006-07 Hurricanes, who were 0-5.

Streak-busting Canucks' formula: score first, hold lead

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:10 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Though they had to come from behind on Thursday to end Detroit's record home winning streak, the Vancouver Canucks generally have a simple formula for success -- score first and shut down the opposition in the final 20 minutes.

The Canucks enter the weekend having scored first a League-high 40 times in their 61 games -- and have turned those 40 first-goals into 33 wins. No other team has won more than 29 times when scoring first, and their .825 winning percentage is fourth.

The flip side of Vancouver's success in taking leads is its ability to keep them. The Canucks have led after two periods 25 times this season -- and turned all 25 into victories. They have the most wins of any team that's perfect after two periods - the others are Boston (24-0-0) and Washington (17-0-0).

Comparing Wings' streak to teams they passed

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 11:14 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

They took place in different eras, with different rules and under different conditions. So which home winning streak is the best?

Detroit's is unquestionably the longest -- the Wings set the single-season mark with their 21st straight home victory by beating Dallas 3-1 on Tuesday night. A win Friday against Nashville will match the most consecutive wins at home ever, equaling the 22 in a row won by the Boston Bruins in 1929-30 and '30-31.

Before this season, the 1929-30 Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers shared the record with 20 consecutive wins, a total the Wings matched last Sunday -- ironically by beating the Flyers. Detroit hopes to avoid the ultimate fate of its predecessors: Though both the Bruins and Flyers finished first in the regular season, neither won the Stanley Cup -- both lost in the Final.

Red Wings' win streak, by the numbers

Monday, 02.13.2012 / 1:01 PM / Inside the Numbers

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The only way to assemble the kind of home-ice roll the Detroit Red Wings currently are riding is to have the narrowest focus possible.

They've won 20 straight games at Joe Louis Arena, which tied the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL record -- and might not be done yet. The Wings will host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a chance to become the only team in League history to win more than 20 in a row on home ice, but if you think they might risk upper-body injuries patting themselves on the back, think again.

Their approach to the streak has been simple, yet incredibly effective. They never get too far ahead of themselves with it and they rarely take a peek over their shoulders to admire what they've done. Their focus is incredibly narrow, going from game-to-game down to period-by-period down to shift-by shift.

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