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Numbers: First half produces some interesting stats

by John Kreiser

Doesn't it feel like the season just started? It does to a lot of us here at But, believe it or not, the 2011-12 season reached the halfway mark Monday, so it's time to take a look at what's gone on in the first three-plus months of the season.

Here's a look at the first half, by the numbers (all stats through Monday's games):

0 -- Shootout losses by Colorado, which has won all seven tiebreakers it has been involved in. Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov has six of the seven wins, the most by any goaltender.

1 -- Position in the overall standings held by the New York Rangers at the halfway mark of the season. The Rangers are off to their best start since 1993-94, the last time they won the Stanley Cup.

2 -- Penalty minutes in games between the Rangers and St. Louis Blues on Dec. 15 and Detroit and Dallas on Jan. 3, the fewest in any game this season.
3 -- Teams tied for the most points in the Central Division, the only division without a clear leader at the midway point of the season. Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago all had 53 points, though the Wings were technically first because they had more non-shootout wins than the Blues and the Hawks were third because they played one more game.

Matt Moulson
Left Wing - NYI
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 36
SOG: 108 | +/-: 5
4 -- Most goals scored by a player in a single game. Matt Moulson of the Islanders had four goals in Dallas on Dec. 3, a feat matched by Montreal's Lars Eller on Jan. 4 against visiting Winnipeg.

5 -- Game-deciding goals in shootouts by New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk, two more than runners-up Rick Nash of Columbus and Ryane Clowe of San Jose. Kovalchuk is tied for the League lead in shootout goals with teammate Zach Parise -- both have six, though Kovalchuk scored his in just seven tries, two fewer than Parise.

6 -- Shutouts by Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick, the most among goaltenders in the first half. One-third of Quick's 18 wins have come via shutout.

7 -- Coaching changes during the first half. The most successful was the first one, which saw Ken Hitchcock take over for Davis Payne in St. Louis on Nov. 6. The Blues were 6-7-0 under Payne but went 18-5-5 in their first 28 games under Hitchcock. Washington, Carolina, Los Angeles, Montreal, Anaheim and Columbus (this past Monday) also changed coaches.

8 -- Games played by Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who returned in late November from a concussion that had kept him out since January, but then was idled for more than a month as he continues to deal with the concussion's effects. He had 2 goals and 12 points in the eight games he did play.

9 -- Biggest margin of victory by any team. Boston was one of four teams to score nine goals in the first half, but the only one to pitch a shutout -- the Bruins blanked Calgary 9-0 on Jan. 5.

10 -- Consecutive wins by the Bruins to start November, the longest winning streak during the first half. The Bruins started their streak by beating Ottawa on Nov. 1 and didn't lose until Detroit beat them 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 25.

11 -- First-half games in which a team won after trailing by three goals. Nine of the comeback wins came in overtime or a shootout; only Florida (Nov. 21 vs. New Jersey) and Nashville (Dec. 22 vs. Columbus) trailed by three goals and won in regulation.

12 -- Shorthanded goals allowed by New Jersey, the most of any team during the first half-- and only one fewer than the number of power-play goals the Devils allowed. But the Devils' penalty-killers were also tops with nine shorthanded goals scored.

14 -- Combined power plays without a goal in Columbus' 1-0 victory at Los Angeles on Jan. 7, the most in a game during the first half. The Jackets were 0-for-6; the Kings were one of three teams to go 0-for-8 in the first half of the season.

Brian Elliott
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 15-5-0
GAA: 1.62 | SVP: 0.940
15 -- Wins by St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott, matching his total with Ottawa and Colorado last season. The difference: Elliott was 15-5-0 in the first half with a 1.62 goals-against average and .940 save percentage; for all of 2010-11, he was 15-27-9 with a 3.34 GAA and .893 save percentage.

17 -- Combined goals scored by Winnipeg (9) and Philadelphia (8), the most of any game in the first half and the most by two teams in a regular-season game since San Jose beat Pittsburgh 10-8 on Jan. 13, 1996.

24 -- Wins by Detroit's Jimmy Howard, four more than any other goaltender in the first half. Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Ottawa's Craig Anderson were next with 20.

26 -- First-half wins by four of the six division leaders. The Rangers, Bruins, Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks all entered the second half with the same number of wins. Pacific Division leader San Jose had 23; Florida led the Southeast Division with 21.

28 -- Goals by Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, the most among all players in the first half. Toronto's Phil Kessel was second with 24, and only seven players reached the 20-goal mark.

32 -- Plus rating for Boston's Tyler Seguin, by far the best in the NHL through the first half -- and a huge jump from his minus-4 rating during his rookie season in 2010-11. Seguin leads a parade of Bruins who occupy the first four slots in the plus-minus race.

35 -- Points by Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the most among rookies during the first half. Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in last June's NHL Draft, had three more points than New Jersey's Adam Henrique. But Nugent-Hopkins may not have the lead for long -- he'll miss at least another couple of weeks with a shoulder injury.

36 -- Points earned at home by the St. Louis Blues, tops among all 30 teams in the first half. The Blues were also first with 17 home victories (17-3-2). Detroit was second in wins (15) despite playing only 18 home games, five fewer than the Blues.

Henrik Sedin
Center - VAN
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 39 | PTS: 50
SOG: 64 | +/-: 13
49 -- First-half points by Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, giving him the scoring lead at the halfway point of the season. The 2009-10 Art Ross Trophy winner was one point ahead of Toronto's Kessel, who played two fewer games.

52 -- Most shots in a game by one team. San Jose had 52 against Phoenix in its 6-3 season-opening win, and Pittsburgh matched that total during a 4-2 win against Carolina on Dec. 27.

72 -- Shootouts in the first half, a pace that would produce 144 for a full season, down slightly from 145 in 2010-11. Shooters connected on 158 of 462 attempts, a 34.2 percentage that would be the best in the tiebreaker's seven-year history if carried through a full season.

165 -- Shots on goal by Pittsburgh's James Neal, the most of anyone in the first half. Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who has led the NHL in shots in goal every season since entering the NHL in 2005-06, was tied for sixth with 152.

15,004 -- Attendance for every one of the Winnipeg Jets' 21 home games in their first season after relocating from Atlanta last summer. There hasn't been an empty seat at the MTS Centre, and the crowd support was a big reason the Jets were 14-6-1 at home after the franchise won only 17 times at home in 2010-11.
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