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12 surprising statistics from the first half

by Rob Vollman

Half of the 2015-16 regular season is complete, and a look at the numbers reveals some intriguing statistics at the individual and team levels. Here are a dozen of the most surprising numbers through Jan. 9, which was the statistical midpoint of the season.

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

The Stat: Scored 54.5 percent of Carolina's power-play goals

Faulk was tied with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks with a League-leading 12 power-play goals. What makes this achievement even more surprising is that Carolina's power play ranked 25th in the League with 22 goals in 131 attempts.

If the trend continues, Faulk and Kane would become two of five players since the statistic was first recorded in 1967-68 to score at least 40 percent of his team's power-play goals.

Top Power-Play Goal Scorers since 1967-68
Season Player Team PPG Team PPG Percentage
2015-16 Justin Faulk Carolina 12 22 54.5
2014-15 Alex Ovechkin Washington 25 60 41.7
1990-91 Brett Hull St. Louis 29 70 41.4
2015-16 Patrick Kane Chicago 12 29 41.4
2000-01 Pavel Bure Florida 19 46 41.3

Prior to this season, Faulk had 15 power-play goals in 262 NHL games.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

The Stat: Scored or assisted on 50.4 percent of Chicago's goals in the first half.

It is difficult to select the most surprising statistic from Kane's career season. At the halfway point he led the League with 37 assists and 60 points, including 22 on the power play, and had a point in 37 of his 43 games (86.0 percent).

The best example of how dominant Kane's offensive play has been this season is he had scored or assisted on 60 of Chicago's 119 goals, or 50.4 percent. That's almost 10 percent more often than the League's next highest offensive contributor, Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues.

Top Offensive Contributors, 2015-16
Player Team Points Team Goals Percentage
Patrick Kane Chicago 60 119 50.4
Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis 44 108 40.7
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh 39 96 40.6
Taylor Hall Edmonton 41 101 40.6
Erik Karlsson Ottawa 45 115 39.1

In his highest scoring season, Kane scored or assisted on 88 of Chicago's 262 goals in 2009-10 (33.6 percent). Since the 1967-68 expansion, the NHL record is held by Mario Lemieux, who scored or assisted on 199 of the Pittsburgh Penguins' 347 goals in 1988-89 (57.3 percent).

The Calgary Flames

The Stat: 86.9 percent special teams index (power play percentage plus penalty killing percentage)

The Flames were outscored by seven goals at even strength in the first half and by a 12-goal margin on special teams. To put in other terms, when Calgary's 12.7 power-play percentage is added to its 74.2 penalty-killing percentage, each the lowest in the League, it produces a surprising special teams index of 86.9 percent that ranked 30th in the League. This also is known as the Bowman Index, named for Hockey Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman.

This is much lower than the No. 29 Winnipeg Jets, who had a special teams index of 92.1 percent, and Calgary's post-2005 single-season low of 97.4, set in 2012-13.

Calgary Flames Special Teams, 2005-06 to 2015-16
Season Power Play Percentage Penalty Killing Percentage Special Teams Index
2005-06 18.0 84.3 102.3
2006-07 17.9 80.4 98.3
2007-08 16.8 81.5 98.3
2008-09 17.0 83.4 100.4
2009-10 16.0 82.3 98.3
2010-11 18.9 81.2 100.1
2011-12 16.9 84.3 101.2
2012-13 18.7 81.5 100.2
2013-14 15.7 81.7 97.4
2014-15 18.0 80.6 98.6
2015-16 12.7 74.2 86.9

The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings

The Stat: 6-1 overtime records, after each went 1-7 last season

On June 24, 2015, the NHL Board of Governors approved a number of rule changes for the 2015-16 season, including the addition of 3-on-3 overtime. At that time it was hard to predict which teams would benefit most from this change. But both the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils improved their 1-7 overtime records in 2014-15 to 6-1 this season.

This success has vaulted the Kings to the top of the Pacific Division and the Devils back into contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In contrast, the Vancouver Canucks fell from 6-3 in the old 4-on-4 overtime format to 1-8 this season. The Nashville Predators went from 8-4 to 1-6 and the Anaheim Ducks from 8-2 to 0-5.

Anaheim Ducks

The Stat: 6.3 shooting percentage

The Ducks scored on 75 of their 1,200 shots for a 6.3 shooting percentage, down from 9.3 percent last season. It's the lowest shooting percentage in the League this season by 1.0 percent, and the lowest by the Ducks post-2005 by 2.5 percent.

Despite having seven former 20-goal scorers in its lineup, three of whom have topped 30 goals, only one Anaheim player had more than eight goals this season at the halfway point; Corey Perry had 15 goals in 40 games.

In contrast the Arizona Coyotes, who have four former 20-goal scorers in its lineup, have six players with at least 10 goals. As a team they have been 66.7-percent more likely to score than the Ducks on any given shot, in stark contrast to the 2014-15 season.

Shooting Percentage Comparison, Anaheim Ducks and the Arizona Coyotes, 2014-15 and 2015-16
  5-on-5 Shooting Percentage  Total Shooting Percentage
Team 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15 2015-16
Anaheim Ducks 8.4 4.7 9.3 6.3
Arizona Coyotes 5.7 9.2 6.9 10.4

The Stat: 71 points scored by rookies.

The Coyotes have used seven rookies this season who combined for a League-leading 29 goals and 71 points in 173 man-games in the first half. That helped propel the Coyotes to 20 first-half wins and second place in the Pacific Division.

Arizona's contingent of high-scoring rookies includes Max Domi, who had 10 goals and 28 points in 41 games; Anthony Duclair, with 12 goals and 23 points in 40 games; and Jordan Martinook, with four goals and 13 points in 40 games.

Greatest Rookie Scoring Contributions, 2015-16
Team Rookies GP G A PTS
Arizona 7 173 29 42 71
Chicago 10 165 23 39 62
Buffalo 4 128 25 26 51
Carolina 5 131 10 28 38
St. Louis 5 124 16 20 36

Last season's League leader was the Ottawa Senators, with a combined 131 points in 241 games from its rookies.

The Pacific Division

The Stat: A combined minus-66 goal differential

The shared struggles of Pacific Division teams of comes as so much of a surprise, selecting a single statistic isn't an easy task. Despite the Los Angeles Kings outscoring their opponents by 28 goals, which ranks third in the League, the division is being outscored by 66 goals as a whole.

At the halfway mark the Pacific Division included three of the four teams that have allowed the greatest number of goals, and five of the nine teams with 42 standings points or fewer. The Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks each had their worst win-loss records since the 2005 lockout, and the Anaheim Ducks their second worst.

The Florida Panthers

The Stat: A League-leading .943 even-strength save percentage.

The Panthers finished the first half on top the Atlantic Division, with victories in 11 straight games to that point. They have been the toughest team to score against, especially in the second quarter of the season.

A lot of the credit for Florida's defensive success goes to the League's oldest goalie, Roberto Luongo, and backup Al Montoya, who have combined for a .943 save percentage in even-strength situations this season, an increase from last season's .923 figure.

Paul Byron, Montreal Canadiens

The Stat: A League-leading five shorthanded points.

When Paul Byron is on the ice in shorthanded situations, the Montreal Canadiens are outscoring their opponents 5-4. Byron scored or assisted on all five of those goals.

Byron, claimed from the Calgary Flames off waivers Oct. 6, 2015, had six shorthanded points in 138 NHL games prior to this season.

The Dallas Stars

The Stat: 63 goals in the third period

The Dallas Stars ranked second in the League standings in part because of strong play in the third period, during which they outscored their opponents 63-40. Their 63 goals was at least double the third-period scoring of five teams: the Pittsburgh Penguins (27 goals), Philadelphia Flyers (28), Anaheim Ducks (28), Calgary Flames (30) and Detroit Red Wings (31).

Last season Dallas was outscored 101-74 in the third period. The post-2005 record for most third- period goals in a season is 112, by the Washington Capitals in 2009-10.

Barret Jackman, Nashville Predators

The Stat: SAT percentage of 58.4 percent (the percentage of all shot attempts taken by a player's team when he is on the ice)

Barret Jackman signed a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1, 2015, and formed a surprisingly effective pairing with Seth Jones before Jones was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Predators had 552 shot attempts with Jackman on the ice and allowed 394, for an SAT of 58.4 percent, which is highest among NHL defensemen (minimum 15 games played). That's up from 50.7 percent last season for Jackman with the St. Louis Blues.

Will Jackman's success continue in Jones' absence? Since the trade he's played one game with Anthony Bitetto and another with Ryan Ellis, during which time the Predators took 24 shot attempts and allowed 18 with Jackman on the ice for an SAT of 57.1 percent.

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

The Stat: Undefeated in regulation in 22 consecutive games (and counting)

When the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Washington Capitals 1-0 on Nov. 10, 2015, goaltender Braden Holtby took the loss. Holtby hasn't lost in regulation since then; the Capitals are 20-0-2 in Holtby's past 22 games.

Braden Holtby
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 27-4-2
GAA: 1.93 | SVP: .932
Wins and losses normally are more of an overall team statistic than an exclusive reflection of the goaltending, but Holtby gives the Capitals a chance to win every night. A 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Nov. 3, 2015 marked the only time he has allowed more than three goals in regulation this season. Holtby has quality starts in 24 of his 33 starts for a League-leading 72.7 quality-start percentage.

Could the Hart Trophy go to a goaltender for the second season in a row? Holtby is tied with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers with eight first stars of the game, and with Lundqvist and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues with 17 total game stars, as compiled by

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