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Inside the Numbers

Late-game hero Selanne refuses to act his age

Friday, 03.25.2011 / 9:39 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

At age 40, Teemu Selanne appears to be saving his best for last.

With the Anaheim Ducks desperate for points, Selanne has had a big hand in four victories since Feb. 11 by scoring the tying goal in the final three minutes of regulation. He's the first player in NHL history to get that many tying goals that late in games in one season, let alone in six weeks.

Selanne has been performing his heroics when they're needed most -- two of the four goals came against Calgary and the other two against Dallas, two teams the Ducks are battling for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. Two of the four came in a four-day span -- he tied Sunday's game against Calgary by scoring a power-play goal with 2:01 left in regulation in a game the Ducks won 5-4, then banged in the tying goal with 6.4 seconds left at Dallas on Wednesday in a game the Ducks won 4-3 on Cam Fowler's overtime goal.

Has rule change cut down on shootouts?

Friday, 03.18.2011 / 10:47 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The NHL Board of Governors changed a rule for this season, making non-shootout wins, rather than total wins, the first tiebreaker when teams end the season with the same number of points.

If the objective was to reduce the number of shootouts, then the rule appears to have worked, because the League is on track for the fewest shootouts since the tiebreaker was enacted for the 2005-06 season.

Through 1,065 games this season, there have been 124 shootouts, a pace that would result in 143 over a full 1,230-game season. That's a 22 percent drop from the 184 shootouts last season, and two fewer than the 145 in 2005-06, the first season the tiebreaker was used to settle games that were even after overtime.

For sixth straight season, West's the best

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 10:08 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The East has narrowed the gap, but the West remains the best.

For the sixth time in as many seasons since the adoption of the shootout in 2005, Western Conference teams are having their way against their Eastern rivals -- although not to the extent they dominated last season.

Through 244 of the 270 interconference games, Western teams have 133 wins, just 78 regulation losses and 33 losses in overtime or shootouts -- meaning they've won 54.5 percent of the games and taken home 54.1 percent of the points. Eastern teams are 111-101-32.

In the five seasons since 2005, Western teams have won at least 52.2 percent of all games -- including a high of 57.4 percent (155-87-28) last season.

Third-period leads are golden in today's NHL

Friday, 03.04.2011 / 9:35 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

There are few sure things in hockey, but going home with points when you lead after two periods is pretty close.

Through Thursday, there were only 37 games in which a team leading after two periods didn't go home with at least a point. No team has lost more than three such games, a dozen haven't lost any, and four -- the New York Rangers (22-0-0), Carolina Hurricanes (21-0-0), Los Angeles Kings (19-0-0) and Colorado Avalanche (15-0-0)  have gotten every possible point when they entered the third period with a lead.

Since 1998, the only team that's been perfect for a full season when entering the third period with a lead was the 2009-10 Buffalo Sabres, who went 30-0-0 -- then were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs because they were just 2-2 when leading after two periods.

Deadline Day dealings by the numbers

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 10:05 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Wayne Gretzky holds dozens of NHL records, but he never was a candidate for the mark currently held by Alan May.

The former enforcer is the only player in NHL history to be involved in four of the 427 trade-deadline deals since 1980. May twice was dealt at the deadline in back-to-back years -- in 1988 (Boston to Edmonton) and '89 (Edmonton to Los Angeles), and again in 1994 (Washington to Dallas) and '95 (Dallas to Calgary).

Four other players have been dealt three times at the deadline, the most notable being Hall of Famer Mike Gartner, who was swapped at the deadline three times in a five-year span -- he went from Washington to Minnesota in 1989, from Minnesota to the New York Rangers a year later, and from the Rangers to Toronto in 1994.

Home teams struggling in shootouts

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 10:29 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

If you're playing at home, this is an especially bad season to get into a shootout.

Home teams haven't had a winning percentage in shootouts since the first season of the tiebreaker -- the only one in which the home team was, by rule, forced to shoot last. Beginning in 2006-07, home teams were given the option to shoot first -- and they haven't won half the shootouts in any season since then.

But 2010-11 has been especially tough for home teams. Of the 100 shootouts this season (in 868 games played), only 39 have seen the home team leave with a win -- and unlike the last couple of seasons, it hasn't mattered for most teams whether they go first or last.

Habs-Bruins game was one for the ages

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 10:22 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The 709th regular-season meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins was one for the ages. Fourteen goals, 12 fighting majors and 182 penalty minutes will do that.

The Bruins' 8-6 victory at TD Garden on Wednesday easily was the wildest game in the League this season. The 14 goals were one off the most scored in a game this season, trailing only Tampa Bay's 8-7 win against Philadelphia two months ago. The 182 penalty minutes were the most in a game this season -- in fact, they were the most in any NHL game since Edmonton and Vancouver combined for 193 on Feb. 16, 2008.

Boston goaltender Tim Thomas surrendered six goals -- the most he's ever allowed in a victory. His counterpart, Montreal's Carey Price, allowed eight, the most by a Montreal goaltender since Patrick Roy was torched for nine by Detroit on Dec. 2, 1995 -- and was traded to Colorado five days later. The two also fought -- the first NHL fight for each, and the first by a Boston goaltender since Byron Dafoe in 2002.

Penguins find ways to win without Crosby

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 10:15 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Who needs Sidney Crosby, anyway? Apparently not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That's overstating the case more than a little bit -- obviously, the Penguins are eager for their captain to return. Crosby was on the way to the best season of his career before going down with a concussion a month ago. But as with all successful teams, the Penguins have found a way to win without their biggest star.

The Penguins enter Friday's home game against Buffalo with a 7-3-1 mark since Crosby was hurt in their Jan. 5 game against Tampa Bay -- meaning they've earned 15 of a possible 22 points, or 68.1 percent. That's actually better than they were doing with him; Pittsburgh was 26-12-3 (55 points, 67.0 percent) with Crosby in the lineup. Even more impressive, they've won four of five without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who's scheduled to return against the Sabres after being out with a knee injury and a sinus infection.

Numbers: Caps trying to win with defense

Friday, 01.21.2011 / 12:20 PM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The uniforms are the same, as are many of the players who wear them. But the Washington Capitals look like an entirely different team than the one most hockey fans are used to watching.

After winning the Southeast Division title for the last three seasons with a run-and-gun attack before being ousted early in the playoffs, the Caps have reversed course and are trying to win with checking and defense -- the kind of hockey that traditionally wins in the postseason.

So far, the results are mixed.

Roloson making a difference for Lightning

Friday, 01.14.2011 / 9:51 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Think Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman had done a little research before he acquired Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders a couple of weeks ago? Given Roloson's past, you can be sure he did.

Before Roloson's arrival, the Lightning had been outscored 12-3 in losing both meetings with Washington this season, and had won just two of their last 19 games against the Caps. But Roloson had been 6-4-3 against Washington during his career, with a pair of shutouts and a 2.41 goals-against average -- pretty good when you're talking about playing against the highest-scoring team in the NHL over the past four seasons.

To say Roloson has made a difference for the Bolts against Washington would be an understatement. The 41-year-old made his Tampa Bay debut against the Caps on Jan. 4, then faced them again eight days later -- and not only did Tampa Bay win both games, but Roloson didn't allow a goal in either game. Those two shutouts in eight days were as many as the Bolts had in their first 96 meetings with Washington since entering the NHL in 1992.

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