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GAGNE, STAAL SHOW BIGGEST GAINS AT SEASON'S MIDPOINT

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
NEW YORK (January 11, 2006) -- The Philadelphia Flyers' Simon Gagne and Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal lead a talented group of players posting big scoring increases over 2003-04 as the National Hockey League enters the second half of the 2005-06 season.


Gagne, who had scored eight goals through Jan. 10 of the 2003-04 season, has 29 in 2005-06 for a 21-goal increase, the largest of any NHL player (minimum 30 games both seasons). Staal is the League's leading point gainer (+36), moving from 18 points in 2003-04 to 54 this season.

LARGEST GOAL INCREASES, 2005-06 VS. 2003-04 THROUGH GAMES OF JAN. 10(minimum: 30 GP both seasons)
2005-062003-04
Diff.PlayerGPGAPTSGPGAPTS
+21Simon Gagne, PHI418142236291847
+19Eric Staal, CAR427111842262854
+15Brian Gionta, N.J.41841243232144


LARGEST POINT INCREASES, 2005-06 VS. 2003-04 THROUGH GAMES OF JAN. 10(minimum: 30 GP both seasons)
2005-062003-04
Diff.PlayerGPGAPTSGPGAPTS
+36Eric Staal, CAR427111842262854
+33Jason Williams, DET3322443122537
+32Brian Gionta, N.J.41841243232144


Other notes on the 2005-06 NHL regular season to date:

GOAL-SCORING

Teams have scored a total of 3,905 goals (not including the 62 goals awarded to clubs winning a shootout), an average of 6.1 per game. The figure represents a 24% increase over the average of 4.9 goals scored in the corresponding number of games in 2003-04.

50-GOAL, 100-POINT SCORERS

Seven players are on pace to record 50 goals this season, the most in a decade (eight players reached the 50-goal mark in 1995-96). Players on a 50-goal pace this season are Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk and Philadelphia's Simon Gagne (both 62), Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson (57), Ottawa's Dany Heatley (54), Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (52), Carolina's Eric Staal(51) and New York Rangers' Jaromir Jagr (51). Ten players are on pace for 100 points, also the most since 1995-96 (12). They are Jagr, Alfredsson and San Jose's Joe Thornton (all 124), Kovalchuk (123), Philadelphia's Peter Forsberg (118), Heatley and Atlanta's Marc Savard (114), Ottawa's Jason Spezza (111), Staal (105) and Ovechkin (102).

ROOKIE GOALS

Only 13 rookies in NHL history have reached the 40-goal mark, and no more than two in a single season, yet four rookies are on pace to score 40 or more goals this season -- Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (52), Colorado's Marek Svatos (47), Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby (41) and the New York Rangers' Petr Prucha (41).

The Calgary Flames' Dion Phaneuf leads all rookie defensemen with 11 goals and is on pace to become just the third blueliner in NHL history to tally 20 years in his rookie campaign, joining the New York Rangers' Brian Leetch(23 in 1988-89) and the Colorado Rockies' Barry Beck (22 in 1977-78).

RECORD OVERTIME DECISIONS

Sixty-seven of 129 games that have gone into overtime have been decided in the five-minute session, a 52% decision rate. Since the League went to a five-minute sudden-death overtime period in 1983-84, the percentage of games decided in OT has hit 50% only once -- in 2002-03 when 156 of 313 OT games produced a winner (50%). Through the corresponding number of games in 2003-04, 70 of 169 OT games had been decided (41%).

LATE-GAME DRAMATICS

There have been 59 go-ahead goals within the last five minutes of regulation time, 48% more than the corresponding 2003-04 figure of 40.

LEAD CHANGES

The number of lead changes (defined as one team taking the lead after its opponent had taken the lead) is up 35% over 2003-04 (from 230 to 310).

SHOTS ON GOAL

Clubs have combined for an average of 59.7 shots per game, 7% above the corresponding 2003-04 figure of 55.9.

COMEBACKS, LED BY CAROLINA

The Carolina Hurricanes won four consecutive games in which they trailed by two goals, on October 24 (trailed Ottawa, 2-0; won, 3-2), October 26 (trailed Boston, 3-1; won, 4-3, in overtime), October 28 (trailed Philadelphia, 2-0 and 5-3; won 8-6) and October 29 (trailed Pittsburgh, 3-1; won 5-3). The Hurricanes became the first team in NHL history to win four consecutive games while overcoming a deficit of two-or-more goals in each game.

The Hurricanes lead the NHL with seven such comeback victories and are7-10-2 overall in such games. In the 2003-04 season, the Hurricanes were2-31-2 in those games.

The frequency of clubs posting a victory after trailing by two or more goals is up 49% over 2003-04, from 41 to 61. This excludes clubs winning in a shootout. When shootout victories are factored in, the increase is 76% (41 to 72).

TWO-GOAL LEADS NO LONGER SAFE

Twenty-six of the 30 NHL clubs have lost games in which they led by two goals or more. The only clubs to have won each game in which they led by two-or-more goals are the Buffalo Sabres (17-0-0), Carolina Hurricanes (21-0-0), New York Rangers (19-0-0) and San Jose Sharks (15-0-0).

SHOOTOUT NOTES

Just under 10% of regular-season games through Jan. 10 (62 of 636, 9.7%) have been decided in a shootout, with home clubs holding a 33-29 edge.Approximately one third of shootout attempts are successful (138 of 417, 33.1%).

The Washington Capitals lead the League in shootout appearances (eight) and victories (five), while the Dallas Stars (4-0), Los Angeles Kings (3-0) and Detroit Red Wings (1-0) are the only undefeated clubs.

Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin leads all shooters with five goals in eight attempts, while the Stars' Jussi Jokinen has the top unblemished record with four goals in as many attempts.

Goaltenders Mathieu Garon of the Los Angeles Kings and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils own the top shootout save percentages. Garon has stopped all five attempts, while Brodeur has turned aside 11 of 12 shots (91.7%).

"Somebody says Calgary and Edmonton are going to a shootout and, whoop, our whole team is standing around this little eight-inch, black-and-white set,"Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan told Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber. "That's typical. In the [dressing] room when someone says a shootout's on, suddenly 15 guys are at the TV."
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