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Fantasy Five: Statistics that will blow your mind

by Matt Cubeta
We've seen some pretty crazy things in the early parts of the 2010-11 season. From Jordan Eberle's amazing highlight-reel plays -- his first career NHL goal, his second act and his final performance (at least for now) -- to Wednesday night's fluke mishandle by Ilya Kovalchuk, this season has seen its share of interesting plays.

By the same token, we have also seen some pretty unusual numbers. Here's a look at the five most interesting/bizarre stats of the 2010-11 fantasy season so far.

1. Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla leads the NHL with a plus-14 rating -- though this may not last long if history is any indication. Klesla, a minus-46 in his career over the course of 10 seasons in Columbus, has never posted a plus/minus higher than plus-7 in any single season. The 28-year-old defenseman has just 4 assists, 6 PIMs, no PPP and 10 SOG so far and is owned in just 1 percent of Yahoo! leagues. I'm not saying you should go and add him to your roster, but if you're desperate for plus/minus help, Klesla could clearly help you out -- he's recorded a minus rating in just two of his 14 games this season.

2. Sharks forward Joe Thornton leads the NHL with a 31.3 shooting percentage. Shooting percentage might not be a fantasy category, but it certainly helps put things in perspective. You might think Thornton's high efficiency rate is a good thing, but he has just 5 goals on 16 shots in 11 games played -- not exactly what you would hope out of a first- or second-round draft pick. Thornton's career average is 15 percent, so obviously this number will come down to earth. Andrew Brunette was the League's top shooter last season at 19.4 percent, proving that Thornton and many other players' shooting percentage (27 players currently have a shooting percentage higher than 20 percent) will eventually fall to a more realistic number.

3. Montreal netminder Carey Price leads all NHL goalies in total time on ice at 842:44. Again, this might not come off as the most relevant fantasy stat, but it shows a lot about Price. First off, it proves that he's getting the vast majority of the workload in Montreal -- he's also tied for the League lead with Chicago's Marty Turco in games started at 14. Second, not only is Price seeing plenty of ice time, but he's also off to the best start of any season, which is why he's earned coach Jacques Martin's trust. Price has an 8-5-1 record to go along with a stellar 2.28 GAA, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts. Last season the talented goalkeeper finished 30th in the NHL in total time on ice. Price is off to a great start.

4. Two Pittsburgh Penguins lead NHL forwards in power-play ice time per game, and both of them are centers. Obviously, we're talking about superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Malkin actually leads all players with 6:37 of PP ice time per game, with Sid averaging 6:14 (third among all players -- Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski is second at 6:24). The interesting part about this statistic is that Sid has just seven power-play points and Malkin has only four! Assuming their power-play ice time remains sky-high, it's probably safe to expect both players to pick up their play with the man advantage.

5. Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHL defensemen in shots on goal with 50. Not coincidentally, Big Buff is also tied for the League lead among d-men with 5 goals (Brent Burns also has 5). The former Blackhawk is off to a tremendous start and is averaging more than three shots per game in 15 contests in his first season in Atlanta. His 50 shots actually rank him tied for 22nd among all NHL players with Tyler Kennedy, Logan Couture and Teemu Selanne. Byfuglien is the rare breed of fantasy defensemen who can contribute in nearly all categories, with plus/minus being the lone exception. He has a cannon from the blue line, and considering the fact that he sees over four minutes of ice time per game on the power play, you can expect Byfuglien will continue to find chances to fire the puck on goal. Enjoy the ride...

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