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Inside the Numbers

Bolts hope Roloson's success continues

Friday, 05.27.2011 / 10:04 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's win or go home Friday for Tampa Bay. That's why the Lightning will be glad to have Dwayne Roloson in goal.

No one has been better in elimination games than "Rolie the Goalie." Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston will be the eighth elimination game in his NHL career -- and he's won the first seven, including Thursday's 5-4 victory that pushed the series to the limit.

That was Roloson's fourth win in as many games this year when his team faced the prospect of going home if it lost -- the first three came in the opening round against Pittsburgh. He also went 3-0 in elimination games for Minnesota in 2003, winning Games 5, 6 and 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals against Vancouver. The 7-0 mark in elimination games equals the record set by the Islanders' Glenn "Chico" Resch, who won his first seven such games in 1975. (A bad omen for Roloson: Resch lost the eighth, in the same circumstances -- when a win would have gotten his team into the Final.)

Sharks paying price for third-period struggles

Friday, 05.20.2011 / 9:30 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The San Jose Sharks were among the stingiest teams in the NHL during the third period during the regular season. Their last few playoff games, however, have been another story.

San Jose surrendered only 70 third-period goals in 82 regular-season games, fewer than all but eight teams, and allowed just six through its first 10 playoff games. However, beginning with a disastrous third period in Game 5 against Detroit, when the Wings scored three times to rally for a 4-3 win, the Sharks have been a sieve in the final 20 minutes of games.

In their last five third periods, the Sharks have been shredded for 13 goals -- more than any other team has allowed in all of its third periods combined. San Jose's total of 19 third-period goals allowed is the most that any team has allowed in any period.

One-goal games very common this postseason

Friday, 05.13.2011 / 10:23 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's appropriate that Game 7 between Detroit and San Jose wound up with the Sharks hanging on for a 3-2 victory. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, one-goal games have been the rule rather than the exception.

Of the 70 games played in the 12 conference quarterfinal and semifinal series, Thursday's game between the Sharks and Wings was the 39th one-goal game. Of that group, there were 20 overtime games, more than have been played in any complete playoff year since 2003. In addition, seven of the 17 games that were decided by two goals were one-goal games before an empty-net goal assured the outcome. Only 14 games were decided by three or more goals -- and one of those (Game 4 between Boston and Philadelphia) was a two-goal contest before a pair of empty-netters locked up the sweep for the Bruins.

Playoffs on pace for record number of OT games

Friday, 05.06.2011 / 10:13 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

If you're a hockey fan, you've discovered this spring that sleep is overrated.

After all, you're staying up late every night for the latest installment of the new hit show "Stanley Cup Playoff Overtime Hockey." Thursday, when there only was one game scheduled, was just the second time in the last 17 nights that at least one game didn't go past regulation.

With two rounds yet to play, we've already seen 20 overtime games through 63 games, a pace that would threaten the record of 28, set in 1993. The 20 overtime games in the first four weeks of the playoffs already are more than the 18 played all last year -- in fact, they are more than any full playoff year since 22 of 89 games went past regulation in 2003.

Unlike the last three years, when home teams did well in overtime, road clubs have had the better of play this year. Of the 20 overtime games so far, 13 have been won by the visiting team -- the most since road clubs won 13 of 21 in 1999. Home teams went 29-21 in overtime during the past three years, including 10-8 last season -- although the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with an overtime victory in Game 6 in Philadelphia. The last year road teams had the better of the results was 2007, when the visitors won 12 of the 17 games that went to overtime.

Game 7 OT win no guarantee of ultimate success

Friday, 04.29.2011 / 9:56 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The relief in Vancouver when Alexandre Burrows scored the series-winning goal against Chicago in Game 7 of their first-round series on Tuesday night was palpable. But what the Canucks did two nights later might have been just as impressive.

The Canucks became the 32nd team to win a series by scoring an overtime goal in Game 7 (Boston became No. 33 one night later when Nathan Horton's goal beat Montreal). But two nights after ending the Hawks' reign as Stanley Cup champions, the Canucks were all over the Nashville Predators in a 1-0 victory that gave them the lead in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

First goal matters more than home ice in playoffs

Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:49 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Nine days into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring first has been enormously important. Playing at home has not.

Scoring first is always a key to victory -- teams that scored first during the regular season won 68.8 percent of the 1,226 games in which goals were scored. That's up slightly from 67.1 percent last season and 68.0 percent in 2008-09.

But getting the first goal has been even more important in the playoffs thus far. Through the first 33 games, the team that scores first has won 27 times (81.8 percent). That's a huge jump from last year, when the team that scored first won just 17 of the first 33 games (51.5 percent) and only 30 of 49 in the opening round (61.2 percent).

In contrast, home teams continue to struggle. While home teams in the regular season won 638 of 1,230 games (51.9 percent, the lowest since the arrival of the shootout in 2005), home teams in the playoffs this far have won just 14 of 33 games. That's a continuation of last season, when home teams won 690 of 1,230 regular-season games (56.1 percent) but just 22 of 49 first-round playoff games (44.9 percent).

Canadiens, Bruins are NHL's longest playoff rivalry

Friday, 04.15.2011 / 9:45 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's not true that there's an NHL by-law mandating that the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens meet in the playoffs. It only seems that way.

On Thursday night, the Habs and B's faced off to start their 33nd playoff series, by far the most of any two teams in NHL history -- Toronto and Detroit are a distant second with 23, though none since 1993. But unlike the Leafs and Wings, who've played each other evenly (the Leafs lead 12-11), the Canadiens generally have owned the Bruins over the years, winning 24 of their 32 meetings -- although Boston swept the last meeting in the first round two years ago.

No other team has beaten another in playoff competition more than 12 times (Toronto against Detroit; Montreal and Boston against Chicago). The Canadiens have won twice that many against Boston -- including 18 in a row, beginning with the 1946 Final and extending through the Adams Division semifinal in 1987.

A look at the biggest numerical happenings of 2010-11

Sunday, 04.10.2011 / 10:21 PM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The 2010-11 NHL regular season is history -- 1,230 games that sent 16 teams onto the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's been a season of ups and downs, individual and team accomplishments and disappointments, and more than a few oddities along the way.

Here's a look at 10 of the most notable numerical happenings of the just-concluded regular season.

Numbers: The season in numerals

Friday, 04.08.2011 / 9:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist


Frazen scores his third goal of the night (Click to enlarge)

The 2010-11 regular season comes to an end Sunday in St. Paul, Minn., a little more than 26 weeks after it began in Helsinki, Finland.

It's been a season to remember for the Vancouver Canucks (first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history), Corey Perry (first 50-goal season) and rookies like Michael Grabner, Logan Couture and Jeff Skinner (all 30-goal scorers in their first NHL season).

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the horizon, here's a look at some of the numbers to remember from the regular season.

0 -- Shots on goal by the Los Angeles Kings in the third period of their game at Vancouver on March 24. It was the only period all season in which a team failed to get a shot on goal. Vancouver out-shot L.A., 16-0, and beat the Kings 3-1.

1 -- Game this season in which neither team had a power play. Los Angeles beat Dallas 3-1 last Saturday in a game that was played entirely at even strength. The last time it happened was exactly a year earlier -- April 2, 2010, when Chicago beat New Jersey 2-1, in a shootout.

Canucks poised to make more history

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 10:02 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Vancouver Canucks are enjoying the greatest season in franchise history. They've already clinched their first regular-season title since entering the NHL in 1970, and they'll have home-ice advantage for as far as they go in their quest for their first Stanley Cup.

But the Canucks also are just 10 days away from making history.

The Canucks enter the penultimate weekend of the season having scored the League's most non-shootout goals (249) while allowing the fewest (172). Finishing first in scoring goals and preventing them is something no team has done since the Montreal Canadiens in 1976-77 and again in 1977-78 -- the only two times a team has led categories since expansion in 1967.

Dating all the way back to the institution of the 70-game schedule in 1949-50, only three franchises ever have had the best offense and stingiest defense. Montreal has done it eight times -- including all five seasons from 1955-60, when the Canadiens won five consecutive Stanley Cups. Chicago was tops in both categories in 1966-67, the final season before expansion, but lost its first playoff series that season. Detroit led in both categories in 1951-52 on the way to the Stanley Cup, and again in 1952-53, when the Wings were beaten in the semifinals.

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