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Inside the Numbers

Numbers show dominance of Penguins, Blackhawks

Friday, 04.12.2013 / 9:56 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Though it might seem as if the 2012-13 regular season started only a few days ago, it is rapidly coming to a conclusion. We've passed the three-quarter mark, and the last of this season's 720 games will be played on April 27.

A few teams have separated themselves from the pack, but most of the eight playoff berths in each conference are still up for grabs.

Here's a look at some of the season's key numbers as we blow past the season's three-quarter mark:

0 -- Post-regulation losses by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the only team that did not lose at least once in overtime or a shootout. The Penguins won all four games they played that went beyond 60 minutes, twice in OT and twice in a shootout.

1 -- Games played without a penalty being called, matching the total for all of last season. The Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders played a penalty-free game on Feb. 27; the Leafs were also involved in 2011-12's only penalty-free contest (against the Edmonton Oilers).

Bruins, Devils enter rivalry matchup in need of win

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 10:25 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Both the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils head into this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN/TSN2) desperate for points, though for different reasons.

The Bruins are all but assured of a playoff berth, but they are trying to catch the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division, which would assure them of no worse than the second seed in the Eastern Conference when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin at the end of this month.

In contrast, the Devils are scrambling just to make the playoffs -- they begin the night on the outside looking in at the top eight in the East and need a win if they hope to avoid missing out for the second time in three years.

Here's a statistical look at two teams that could see each other in the opening round:

Devils paying price for lack of shootout success

Friday, 04.05.2013 / 9:51 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Live by the shootout, die by the shootout. That could be the fate of the New Jersey Devils this season.

The Devils finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last season with 102 points, and a major part of their success was their ability to win post-overtime tiebreakers. New Jersey went to the shootout 16 times last season and won a League-high 12 of them. Ilya Kovalchuk set single-season records with 11 goals and seven game-deciding shootout goals, Zach Parise was 8-for-16 and the Devils led the NHL by scoring on 57.1 percent of their attempts.

But the Devils enter the weekend on the outside looking in at the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and their lack of success in the shootout is a big reason.

Penguins enter off loss, but have Rangers number

Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 8:50 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

There won't be any hockey history made at Madison Square Garden. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty at stake in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Had the Penguins beaten the Buffalo Sabres at home on Tuesday night, they'd be coming to New York looking for their record-tying 17th consecutive victory. Instead, they'll try to start a new streak against an Atlantic Division rival that's desperately scrambling for points just to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and starts the day in ninth place, two points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.

Penguins' perfect month by the numbers

Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 8:32 PM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

March was a month the Pittsburgh Penguins will never forget.

Pittsburgh's 2-0 victory against the New York Islanders on Saturday gave the Penguins the first perfect month (10 games or more) in NHL history. The Penguins played 15 games and won them all -- the first five by excelling at run-and-gun hockey and the last 10 by playing a shutdown style that limited opponents' scoring chances. They set a franchise record for victories in a single month and matched the 1981-82 New York Islanders for the second-longest winning streak in NHL history. This season's Pittsburgh team is two victories away from equaling the League record of 17 consecutive victories -- set by the 1992-93 Penguins.

Here's a look at some of the statistical highlights of the "March of the Penguins":

0 -- Goals allowed by the Penguins in their last three games of the month. Pittsburgh beat Montreal 1-0 and blanked Winnipeg 4-0 before beating the Islanders 2-0 to cap their big month.

1 -- Hat tricks by Pittsburgh during the month. Chris Kunitz had three goals in a 6-1 victory against the Islanders on March 10. Sidney Crosby had five assists in the same game.

Numbers only start to tell story of Howe's greatness

Friday, 03.29.2013 / 11:30 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

There will never be another Gordie Howe.

No player before or since has had the combination of skill and toughness that Howe brought to the rink every night during his 26 NHL seasons. No one has been a greater ambassador for hockey both during his career and after his retirement as a player.

Though mere figures can never totally describe Howe's impact on the sport, in honor of Mr. Hockey's 85th birthday on Sunday, here's a look at some of the numbers that paint part of the picture of his greatness:

Spoils of first place to victor of Bruins-Canadiens

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 10:00 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

There are plenty of heated rivalries in the NHL, but no teams have faced off more often than the participants in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/TSN2).

Not only have the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins met 719 times in the regular season, they've played another 170 Stanley Cup Playoff games while battling each other in 33 postseason series -- by far the most between any two teams in NHL history. These longtime rivals are hockey's version of the Hatfields and McCoys.

Here's a statistical look at what's sure to be one of the most intense Rivalry Night matchups this season:

To Hab and Hab not: The Canadiens won the first two meetings between the teams in December 1924, and they've never trailed in the all-time series. They come into their second visit of the season to TD Garden with an all-time regular-season record of 346-263-103-7 against Boston -- including 33 wins in the 50 meetings since the start of the 2005-06 season. However, the Bruins have a winning record in the 360 games played in Boston, going 165-135-56-4 since the teams first met on Dec. 8, 1924.

Teams doing more with fewer power plays

Friday, 03.22.2013 / 10:37 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

Teams are converting their power-play opportunities better than they have in any season since 2008-09. They're just not getting many chances to do it. Power plays per game dropped to a 34-year low of 6.61 per game last season, and that total will end up even lower in 2012-13 if current trends continue.

Whether it's officials allowing more things to go uncalled or players adapting to the way games are called, power plays are plummeting as the season goes on. The first quarter of the season saw an average of 8.28 power plays per game. By the end of February, that number was down to 7.67 -- and through Thursday's games, the average had dropped to 7.10 per game.

More telling is the fact that power plays this month continue to drop. The 153 games played so far this month have seen an average of just 5.99 power plays -- matching the average of the last three-plus months of 2011-12. If the March average were to continue through the remainder of 2012-13, the full-season average would drop to 6.55; the last time there were fewer power plays per game was 1977-78 (6.38).

Numbers suggest Wild have work cut out in Detroit

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 9:05 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's no surprise that one of the two teams in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/TSN2) is in first place. The surprise is that the Minnesota Wild, not the Detroit Red Wings, are the club on top of their division as the season heads for the home stretch. The Wild are trying to win just the second division title in franchise history and end a four-year playoff drought; the Red Wings are trying to make the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season.

Here's a statistical look at this week's Rivalry Night matchup:

Goalies getting victimized more in shootout in '12-13

Friday, 03.15.2013 / 9:35 AM / Inside the Numbers

John Kreiser - Columnist

If it seems like the shooters are getting better in the shootout … well, they are.

Through the first 400 games this season, 56, or 14.0 percent, have been decided in the tiebreaker. That's down slightly from the 14.72 percent total for 2011-12, though it would still be the second-highest full-season percentage since the shootout was adopted in 2005.

But shooters are having their best season ever in the tiebreaker. They've scored 133 times on 357 attempts, a 37.3 percent success rate that dwarfs previous seasons. The 33.8 percent rate in 2011-12 was the best in the first seven seasons, and the average success rate in those seven seasons was 32.7 percent -- just below one in every three attempts.

The improvement by the shooters is most evident in the number of shootouts that are being decided quickly.

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