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Inside the Numbers

First-half numbers paint an interesting picture in NHL

Friday, 01.07.2011 / 9:41 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It seems like just yesterday the first puck was dropped for the 2010-11 season. That was Oct. 7 – and three months later, we're just about to reach the halfway point of the season; it officially arrives Saturday.

Here's a look at some of the numbers that stood out during what has been a memorable first half of the 2010-11 season:

0 – Division leaders at the halfway mark last season who are on top again this season. In the East, Pittsburgh, Boston and Tampa Bay have replaced New Jersey, Buffalo and Washington. In the West, Detroit, Vancouver and Dallas are on top, replacing Chicago, Colorado and San Jose.

1 – Games in which no goals were scored during regulation and overtime. The Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators matched zeroes though 65 minutes on Dec. 4. Buffalo's Thomas Vanek got the lone goal in the tie-breaker to give the Sabres the 1-0 win.

Every point is important for teams in the West

Friday, 12.17.2010 / 9:18 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Can the West get any wilder?

Ten weeks into the 2010-11 season, the top team in the conference (Detroit) and the last-place team (Edmonton) are separated by only 14 points -- less than half the 30-point margin from first to last in the East. Even wilder, the gap from second-place Dallas to 13th-place Calgary is just eight points. Four teams begin play Friday tied with 38 points, and five more start the weekend even at 35. Two of the five 35-point teams -- Chicago and Phoenix, both among the top four teams in the conference last season -- are on the outside looking in.

"Every night is a playoff game," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, whose team climbed into seventh place with a 4-3 overtime win at Dallas on Thursday. "It can come back and bite you if you don't realize that."

It's the second year in a row that the gap from top to bottom in the West has been just 14 points as we reach the week before Christmas. Last season, Los Angeles was on top with 47 points on Dec. 17, while Anaheim was last with 33. In contrast, the top-to-bottom gap ranged from 25 to 36 points on the same date in the three previous seasons.

Western teams are still beating up on the East

Friday, 12.03.2010 / 9:52 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

As with any other organization, the NHL undergoes change over the years. But one thing that has remained constant is the Western Conference's domination of the East -- a trend that's now into its sixth season and shows no signs of abating.

Through the first 100 of this season's 270 interconference games, the Western Conference owns a 57-31-12 record, while teams in the East are just 43-43-14. Western teams have a winning percentage of .570 and a .558 percentage of points earned; the Eastern teams are at .430 and .442, respectively.

Since 2005, when play resumed after the work stoppage, Western teams have had a winning record every season -- ranging from .522 in 2008-09 to .574 last season.

Much of the damage by the West has been done by three teams. St. Louis won its first seven games against the East before losing to Washington on Wednesday; still, the Blues' 7-1-0 mark is the best by any team against the other conference. Dallas is 8-2-0 against the East after beating the Caps on Thursday, the most wins by any team against the other conference, and Los Angeles, which went a League-best 14-4-0 against the East last season, is 7-3-0 this season after beating Florida on Thursday.

A statistical look at the first quarter of the season

Wednesday, 11.24.2010 / 8:45 PM / 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 2010-11 season reached the one-quarter mark on Wednesday, so it's time to take a look at what's gone on in the first 25 percent of the season.

Here's a look at the first quarter, by the numbers:

0 -- Number of games played by the Florida Panthers that went into overtime. The Panthers were 9-10-0 during the first quarter, but were the only team that had all of its games decided in the regulation 60 minutes. Ottawa was next with one.

1 -- Home losses (including OT and shootouts) by St. Louis and Los Angeles, the fewest in the NHL. The Blues have eight wins and a shootout loss, while the Kings won their first eight at the Staples Center before losing to Columbus.

Habs had most fun in NHL's first 50,000 games

Friday, 11.19.2010 / 10:55 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's appropriate that Saturday's schedule includes a meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs -- after all, the Habs and the Toronto Arenas (the Leafs' predecessors) played on the NHL's first opening night, Dec. 19, 1917, and they'll meet for the 775th time (704th in the regular season) on the night the NHL plays the 50,000th game (regular season and playoffs) in League history.

The NHL has gone through a variety of cycles since that opening night almost 93 years ago. Offenses have been prolific in some eras (8.17 goals per game in 1943-44; 8.03 in 1981-82), while defenses have dominated in others (4.79 goals per game in 1952-53, 5.14 in 2003-04). Teams have gone from playing as few as 18 games in 1918-19 all the way to 84 (two at neutral sites) during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, and back down to today's 82. Throughout the "Original Six" era (1942-67), a team could win the Stanley Cup with an eight-game sprint; today, it's a marathon that requires 16 victories and can require a team to play as many as 28 games.

Capitals winning despite poor starts

Friday, 11.12.2010 / 9:47 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Washington Capitals lead the NHL with 12 wins -- not surprising for a team that won the Presidents' Trophy last season. Unlike a year ago, however, they're doing it the hard way.

Over the course of the season, teams that score first win about 65 percent of the time. But the Caps are doing it backwards -- they've got 12 victories despite being scored on first 12 times in their 16 games, including Thursday's 6-3 victory against Tampa Bay. Washington is 9-3-0 when allowing the first goal, a pace that history says will be impossible to sustain.

It's a big contrast from last season, when the Capitals were second in the NHL with 52 first goals (Chicago was tops with 56) and had a 38-7-7 record in those games. They won 16 of the 30 games in which they allowed the first goal -- the only team in the NHL with a winning percentage of .500 or better when doing so.

Thomas, Halak are making life tough for shooters

Friday, 11.05.2010 / 10:29 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

What's the toughest thing to do in the NHL right now? Is it getting a puck past Tim Thomas? Or it could be turning on the red light behind Jaroslav Halak?

Who's better? That could be answered (at least for now) Saturday in Boston, where the two could be at opposite ends of the ice when Halak and the Blues come to TD Garden for a game against Thomas and the Bruins.

It's hard to argue with the performance of either goaltender so far

Thomas already has made history by becoming the first Boston goaltender to start the season by going 7-0-0 -- he outdid Tiny Thompson, who started 6-0-0 in 1937-38 before playing to a pair of ties. More amazing is the fact that Thomas didn't even begin the season as the Bruins' No. 1 goaltender. Tuukka Rask took away Thomas' starting job last season and got the opening-day start against Phoenix. But after Rask surrendered four goals in a 5-2 loss, Thomas got the call in Game 2, responded with a 3-0 victory and has spent the next four weeks looking like Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur rolled into one.

A look at some of the key numbers from October

Sunday, 10.31.2010 / 9:00 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

19 -- Points by Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, the most by anyone in October. The No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft is on a pace that would see him put up nearly 160 points for a full season.

The NHL busiest day is followed by its quietest. With the League turning over the final day of October to the trick-or-treaters after a 14-game bonanza on Saturday, it's a good time to take a look back at the numerical goings-on during the first month of the season:

0 -- Combined home victories by the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, both of whom went 0-4-1 in their own buildings -- the only teams that didn't win at least once at home during October. One of the four home losses for each team came against the other.

Shootouts this season down by half

Friday, 10.29.2010 / 9:51 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Love them or hate them, almost every hockey fan will stop what he or she is doing to watch a shootout. But so far this season, there hasn't been much to watch.

The first three weeks of the new season have yielded just 10 shootouts in the first 136 games played -- a huge comedown from last season, when there were 23 in the same number of games. Project those early numbers over a full season and there would be about 90 shootouts in 2010-11, less than half of the record 184 that took place last season.

It's not that there haven't been plenty of opportunities for shootouts. In all, 31 of the first 136 games (22.8 percent) have gone to overtime -- the exact same percentage as in 2006-07, when there were 164 shootouts. But unlike the first five seasons of the shootout, in which about 57 percent of games that went to overtime were scoreless during the five-minute extra period, 21 of 31 games (68 percent) have been won in overtime this season; just 32 percent have gone to a shootout.

Brodeur knows how to put on a show for Montreal

Friday, 10.22.2010 / 9:46 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's not surprising Montreal native Martin Brodeur loves to come back to the city where he grew up. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, he's not just some tourist -- he's the winningest goaltender in NHL history, and he saves some of his best work for his hometown.

Brodeur extended his NHL record for shutouts to 112 on Thursday by making 29 saves as the New Jersey Devils blanked the Canadiens, 3-0. Nine of those shutouts have come against the Habs; five have come at the Bell Centre, matching Atlanta's Philips Arena for the most he's had in a visiting building.

The Bell Centre has been an especially enjoyable stopover for Brodeur and the Devils -- he's now 16-8-1 at the Canadiens' home since 1996. In all, Brodeur is 39-16-5 in his 60 starts against the team he grew up watching (his father was the long-time team photographer), the most victories he's had against any team outside the Atlantic Division.

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