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Inside the Numbers

Power plays per game reach three-decade low

Friday, 02.10.2012 / 9:52 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

When play resumed in 2005 after the work stoppage, much was made of the increase in restraining fouls called. The NHL's reply to critics of the spate of power plays was that the numbers would go down as players acclimated themselves to the way the games were being called.

Looks like the League was right.

With the season set to pass the two-thirds mark on Saturday, the average number of power plays in a game has fallen to levels not seen in more than three decades. Entering the weekend, the 810 games played this season have had an average of 6.90 power plays -- the lowest figure since 1978-79, when the 17-team NHL averaged 6.77 power plays in its 680 games.

Gagner joins elite company with 8-point night

Friday, 02.03.2012 / 9:32 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Sam Gagner
Center - EDM
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 30
SOG: 86 | +/-: 2
Gordie Howe never had eight points in a game. Neither did Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Mark Messier, Mike Bossy or Brett Hull. In fact, before Thursday night, only 10 players in the history of the League had managed that feat.

That's what makes Sam Gagner's eight-point night so stunning.

Gagner became the first NHL player in more than 23 years to get eight points in a game when he did it Thursday night in Edmonton's 8-4 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks. Gagner, 22, wasn't even born the last time someone turned an eight-point night.

Numbers: Original Six domination of standings a rarity

Friday, 01.20.2012 / 9:59 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

They are celebrated as the Original Six -- the half-dozen NHL clubs that pre-date the 1967 expansion and hearken back to a different era. But not since the early days of expansion have the Original Six been on track to be as dominant as they've been this season.

Entering this weekend, four of the top five teams in the NHL standings are members of the Original Six. Detroit, a 3-2 shootout winner at Phoenix on Thursday, is first with 63 points, one ahead of a group of three teams that includes the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, and two points in front of the Boston Bruins -- who have played only 44 games, fewer than any team in the NHL. Only the St. Louis Blues, the other team in the three-way tie with 62 points, breaks up the Original Six party.

Numbers: First half produces some interesting stats

Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 11:03 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Doesn't it feel like the season just started? It does to a lot of us here at But, believe it or not, the 2011-12 season reached the halfway mark Monday, so it's time to take a look at what's gone on in the first three-plus months of the season.

Here's a look at the first half, by the numbers (all stats through Monday's games):

0 -- Shootout losses by Colorado, which has won all seven tiebreakers it has been involved in. Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov has six of the seven wins, the most by any goaltender.

1 -- Position in the overall standings held by the New York Rangers at the halfway mark of the season. The Rangers are off to their best start since 1993-94, the last time they won the Stanley Cup.

Numbers show just how great Bruins have been

Friday, 01.06.2012 / 11:11 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Tyler Seguin
Center - BOS
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 36
SOG: 98 | +/-: 31
The Boston Bruins ended a 39-year drought by winning the Stanley Cup last spring. The scary news for the rest of the NHL is that this season's team looks even better. After going 3-7-0 in October, the Bruins have torn up the NHL.

Thursday's 9-0 victory against Calgary was their 26th of the season --- 23 of which have come in Boston's last 27 games. Their 23-3-1 spurt is similar to New Jersey's 23-3-2 surge in the second half of last season. But while the Devils outscored their opponents 77-45 in their run, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 116-45 during their hot streak -- including 45-13 during a 9-1-0 spurt that includes Thursday's demolition of Calgary, Boston's biggest margin of victory in more than 24 years.

A look at the first 1,000 (and counting) shootouts

Friday, 12.09.2011 / 10:34 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It was somehow appropriate that the 1,000th shootout in NHL history involved the Edmonton Oilers.

The NHL adopted the shootout in 2005 to settle games that were still even after the five-minute overtime. Since then, about 12.9 percent of games -- slightly more than one in eight -- have gone to the shootout. The Oilers' loss to Minnesota in a six-round affair on Nov. 30 came in the 1,000th shootout since the tiebreaker was adopted -- and it was the 80th for the Oilers, tying them with the New York Rangers for the most by any team during the first 1,000 tiebreakers.

No one knew what would happen when the shootout was adopted six years ago. Would the game's biggest stars be dominant? Would shooters have the advantage? Which teams would be the best -- and worst?

Bruins and Wild had memorable Novembers

Friday, 12.02.2011 / 9:45 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Forgive the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild if they're sorry to see the calendar turn from November to December. Both teams are coming off months they'll remember for a long time.

After an October in which the Bruins played like a team with a Stanley Cup hangover, they more than made up for their slow start with a November for the record books.

How good were the Bruins in November?

Their 6-3 victory at Toronto on Wednesday completed a 12-0-1 performance during the month, the first time since January 1969 (10-0-4) that they completed a calendar month without losing a game in regulation. The only flaw in their 13 November games was a shootout loss to Detroit on Friday.

Statistical look at the 2011-12 first quarter

Thursday, 11.24.2011 / 9:00 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It may seem like opening night was only a day or so ago, but the 2011-12 NHL season reached the one-quarter mark this week. We've seen a tremendous first quarter by Toronto's Phil Kessel, Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas posting even better numbers than last season -- and a spectacular return by concussion-idled Sidney Crosby.

Ovechkin shooting less, scoring less

Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:08 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 14
SOG: 59 | +/-: -3
Has the NHL caught up with Alex Ovechkin?

Ovi has kept goaltenders busy from the day he entered the NHL -- he scored twice and had five shots on goal in his debut, Oct. 5, 2005. Washington's star has been firing away ever since, leading the NHL in shots on goal in each of his first six seasons.

But after scoring at least 46 goals in each of his first five seasons, Ovi's goal total (32), shots on goal (367) and shooting percentage (8.7) all hit career lows in 2010-11. While his shooting percentage has rebounded somewhat this season -- at 11.9 percent, he's exactly at his career average -- and his goal-scoring pace is about the same, his shot volume is headed for a serious decline.

Khabibulin off to best start of long career

Friday, 11.11.2011 / 11:40 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The surprising Edmonton Oilers have gotten a lot of attention because of young stars like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, it's 38-year-old goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin who's been the biggest difference between the team that finished 30th in the standings in 2010-11 and the one that takes a Northwest Division-leading 9-4-2 mark into Friday's visit to Detroit.

Khabibulin will take the ice with a 7-0-2 record, a goals-against average of 0.98 and a save percentage of .964. His GAA after nine games is the lowest since the expansion era began 44 years ago. He has allowed just nine goals in nine games, and no more than two in any one contest.

Khabibulin has won his last six games, his longest winning streak in his two-plus seasons with the Oilers and the most by an Edmonton goaltender since Dwayne Roloson won six straight games in November 2006. The last time Khabibulin had a run like this was in November-December 2008, when he won seven in a row while playing for Chicago.
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