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Numbers, stats tell first-half story of NHL season

by John Kreiser
It may seem like the season just started, but we've reached the halfway mark and are headed for home -- or, more precisely, the playoffs, which start in mid-April.

Here's a look at some of the most interesting numbers from the first 615 of this season's 1,230-game schedule:

0 -- Penalty minutes taken by one team in each of Carolina's two visits to Florida. On Nov. 24, the Hurricanes were not assessed any penalties; on Jan. 8, it was the Panthers' turn to go penalty-free. Florida won the first game 3-2 and the second by a 4-2 score.

1 -- Games that were scoreless after 60 minutes and decided in overtime. Anaheim's Chris Pronger scored 40 seconds into OT on Nov. 2 to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. Three other first-half games were scoreless through 65 minutes and had to be decided in a shootout.

2 -- Times that teams combined for 88 shots on goal in a game, the most in the season's first half. Carolina (28) and the Islanders (60) did it Oct. 25; Florida (36) and Tampa Bay (52) matched that total Nov. 18.

3 -- Coaches who were replaced. Chicago replaced Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville after just four games. Carolina (Paul Maurice for Peter Laviolette) and Tampa Bay (Rick Tocchet for Barry Melrose) also made changes behind the bench.

4 -- Non-shootout games in which the teams involved combined for 13 goals, the most in a game so far this season. Of the four, the only one won by the visiting team came when Pittsburgh beat Detroit 7-6 in overtime Nov. 11.

5 -- Power-play goals by Minnesota in a 6-1 victory at Nashville on Nov. 28 -- the most man-advantage goals in a game this season. Eight teams, including the Wild, on Nov. 13 against Phoenix, scored four times with the extra man.

6 -- Shutouts by Columbus rookie Steve Mason, the most by any goaltender in the League. What's more impressive is that Mason started the season in the minors and has played only 24 games. That's one shutout in every four appearances.

7 -- Goals scored by Philadelphia in a shutout victory against Atlanta on Oct. 31. It was the biggest shutout victory of the first half and one of three games in which the margin of victory was seven goals.

8 -- Shootout victories by the New York Rangers in 10 tries. Henrik Lundqvist was the winning goaltender in seven of the wins.

9 -- Most goals scored in a game by one team. It happened twice, within a six-day span. Pittsburgh beat the New York Islanders, 9-2, on Dec. 11; Chicago won by the same score at Edmonton on Dec. 17.

10 -- Fewest shots on goal by a team in a game. Vancouver managed only 10 shots in a 5-1 loss to Washington on Oct. 13.

11 -- Games in which a team has lost after leading by three or more goals. Nine teams have blown three-goal leads and not come away with two points; two others (Carolina vs. Philadelphia on Dec. 11 and the New York Rangers vs. Washington 11 days later) were unable to win after leading by four goals. The Hurricanes lost in a shootout, the Rangers in overtime.

13 -- Rounds needed by Vancouver to beat Anaheim in a shootout Oct. 31. Mattias Ohlund's goal ended the longest shootout of the season and gave the Canucks a 7-6 victory.

14 -- Consecutive road losses by the New York Islanders, the longest streak in the League. The Isles are one short of the franchise record, set in 1972-73, their first season in the NHL.

16 -- Combined power plays without a goal by Colorado (0-9) and Nashville (0-7) in the Avalanche's 1-0 victory at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 8. It's the most power plays by two teams without a goal in any game this season.

21 -- Home games without a regulation loss by the San Jose Sharks, the only team to get a point in every home game this season. San Jose was 19-0-2 at the Shark Tank. San Jose is 27-0-3 in its last 30 home games since a Valentine's Day loss to Edmonton.

26 -- Actually minus-26, the League-worst plus-minus rating by Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour. Only two other players -- St. Louis forward Brad Boyes (minus-22) and Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt (minus-25) -- were higher than minus-20.

27 -- Games played at Staples Center by the Los Angeles Kings, who spent more time at home in the first half of the season than anyone. The bad part: They play only 14 home games (and 27 on the road) in the second half.

27 -- Goals by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, Philadelphia's Jeff Carter and Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, tying them for the League lead at the halfway point of the season. Ovechkin was tops with 18 goals at home, one more than Carter. Vanek led all scorers with 17 goals on the road.

30 -- Victories by the Boston Bruins (30-7-4) in their first 41 games, their best 41-game showing since 1929-30. The Bruins ended the first half with 64 points; at the same stage a year earlier, they had a 21-16-4 record and 46 points.

60 -- Shots on goal by the Islanders against Carolina on Oct. 25, the most in regulation by a team in more than a decade. But all those shots didn't pay off in two points: Cam Ward made 57 saves in the Hurricanes' 4-3 win.

63 -- Points by NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh, 10 more than Ovechkin and teammate Sidney Crosby. Malkin was remarkably balanced: He had 31 points at home and 32 on the road.

82 -- Games that went to a shootout. Home teams won 42, visitors won 40. As a percentage, 13.3 percent of the 615 games played in the first half were decided in a shootout, up from 12.7 percent for all of 2007-08.

127 -- Minutes needed by Anaheim to beat Phoenix on Jan. 4. The Ducks blanked the Coyotes 2-0 in just 2:07, the fastest game of the season.

142 -- Blocked shots by Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek, more than anyone else in the NHL and 15 more than runner-up Brett Clark of Colorado. Nashville's Greg Zanon, Atlanta's Niklas Havelid and Pittsburgh's Rob Scuderi were the only other players with 100 or more.

245 -- Shots on goal by Ovechkin, by far the most in the NHL. Carter was a distant second at 185. Ovechkin was also the runaway leader in shots that missed the target with 114; Carolina's Eric Staal was next with 76.
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