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For Red Wings, out-shooting means out-playing

by John Kreiser
Osgood's name doesn't often come up in a discussion of potential Hall of Famers, but he's going to force selectors to take a look at him when he retires.
The easiest ways to keep the puck out of your net are to shoot a lot at the other team's goal and keep the opposition from getting shots at yours. No team is better at doing both than the Detroit Red Wings.

Through their first 14 games, the Red Wings are tops in shots at 33.6 per game, and also No. 1 in preventing the opposition from shooting, allowing an average of just 22.4 per contest. Their differential of 11.2 shots per game is by far the best in the NHL -- and would be the best of the 21st century by quite a bit. Since 2000, the top differentials are Detroit's 7.5 per game in 2005-06 and the Wings' 7.2-shot margin last season.

Not surprisingly, the Wings are 11-2-1 this season -- and they're coming home after their first sweep of Western Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary) since the Atlanta Flames relocated to Alberta in 1980.

Detroit was tops in shots on goal last season at 33.8 -- a figure that actually was a slight drop-off from 2005-06, when the Wings averaged 34.1, just 0.2 shots per game behind the League-leading Boston Bruins. The Wings also were tops last season in preventing shots, allowing just 24.6 per game -- an improvement from 2005-06, when they were fourth with 26.6.
Quick on the draw -- One reason the Wings dominate the shot totals so often is their proficiency in the faceoff circle. The Wings entered Thursday night's game in Calgary second in faceoff percentage at 54.4, behind only San Jose's 54.5 -- and that was before winning 62 percent of the 50 faceoffs against the Flames.

But faceoff domination is nothing new: Detroit led the NHL last season by winning 53.6 percent of its faceoffs, has been among the top three teams in each of the previous three seasons and has won at least 51.4 percent in every season since 2000-01 -- the best showing by any team.

Wizard of "Oz" -- Chris Osgood technically may be Dominik Hasek's backup, but the Red Wings probably aren't in any rush to get "The Dominator" back on the ice -- not the way Osgood is playing.

Osgood improved to 7-0-0 this season with a 26-save performance in Detroit's 4-1 victory at Calgary on Thursday night. He's allowed just 10 goals in winning his seven starts this season, and is 14-0-5 since his last loss, 1-0 at St. Louis last Feb. 8.

Osgood's name doesn't often come up in a discussion of potential Hall of Famers, but he's going to force selectors to take a long look at him when he retires. Thursday night's win gave him a career mark of 343-186-66, with 24 overtime losses. He has 43 shutouts, a career goals-against average of 2.44 and two Stanley Cup rings, including a 16-win performance in the run to the 1998 Cup. At age 34 -- he turns 35 on Nov. 26 -- Osgood easily could finish with more than 400 wins

Nothing "Silli" about Mike -- Mike Sillinger became the 223rd player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark when he took the ice for the New York Islanders on Thursday night against Tampa Bay. It's safe to say that none of the previous 222 had to travel as much to reach the milestone.

Sillinger has played for an NHL-record 12 franchises during his 17 NHL seasons. He wears No. 18 on Long Island -- the third team for which he's worn that number. But he's also won No. 16 (four times), No. 26 (three times) and 23, 81 and 11 once each -- likely giving him some kind of NHL record for most numbers worn.

Amazingly for a 1,000-game player, Sillinger hasn't played more than 155 games with any one team -- he was a Columbus Blue Jacket for that long from 2001-03. If he stays healthy and productive this season, he'll pass that figure in an Islander uniform.

One reason teams always seem to want Sillinger: He's won at least 55 percent of his faceoffs and finished in the top 15 in faceoff percentage in each of the last six seasons -- and has a 56.2 winning percentage on draws after 10 games this season.

New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro stops a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning Martin St. Louis Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007.
0-for-New York -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have yet to win on the road this season, and their miseries away from home especially were apparent this week on a swing through the New York area. The Lightning became just the fifth team ever to lose all three games in regulation against the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey since the Devils moved east from Colorado in 1982. The others were the 1982-83 Quebec Nordiques, the 1986-87 Los Angeles Kings and the 2000-01 Florida Panthers -- plus the 1991-92 Vancouver Canucks, who lost to the Rangers, Devils and Islanders, then came back to New York and tied the Rangers.

The Lightning were outscored 13-2 in the three losses -- the fewest goals ever scored by a team playing all three New York-area clubs consecutively. The 11-goal margin was the second-worst, better only than the 1982-83 Nordiques, who were outscored by 13 goals (17-4).

Shootout star -- If NHL teams ever begin carrying specialists to handle shootouts, Johan Hedberg might never have to retire. The Atlanta goaltender now has won all six shootouts he's taken part in -- including a 3-2 victory against Montreal on Tuesday night -- the most wins without a loss for any goaltender since the shootout was adopted in 2005. Hedberg has stopped 18 of the 23 shootout attempts he's faced, a .783 percentage.

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