It would be pretty hard to not look back on 2014 and consider it a momentous one for hockey.
The Stanley Cup went to the same team that won it two years prior, but the Los Angeles Kings took about as different a route to a championship the second time around as they could.
When the Kings lost for the third time in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they were leading the Final 3-0. When they lost for the third time in 2014, they had yet to win once. They proceeded to lose three times to each of their three opponents from the Western Conference, staging three incredible postseason series before besting the New York Rangers in five games.
Each team the Kings defeated en route to the Cup has become a rival for different reasons. Los Angeles and San Jose have played more in the past four seasons than any other teams, and there is real dislike between the two teams.
Los Angeles and the Anaheim Ducks was a rivalry of circumstance and geography before 2014. Now, the teams have a seven-game playoff series, outdoor memories and a developing history to build from.
For the second season in a row, the Kings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final and when the two best teams in the NHL clashed, the hockey was almost magical.
There was also the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a tournament filled with smaller moments like Anze Kopitar and Kristers Gudlevskis trying to will Slovenia and Latvia respectively to new heights, or Teemu Selanne turning back time with an MVP performance for Finland. It will remembered most for Canada unleashing maybe the most dominant defensive display the sport has ever seen at a high level and confirming its place atop hockey's hierarchy.
It was quite the year for analytics as well. Not only because of the success of Los Angeles and Chicago, two teams lauded for accepting analytics, and the eventual demise of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, two teams that rated poorly in several advanced metrics, but especially because of the people hired by NHL teams for their expertise in that area.
It has become a brave new world in the NHL, with even previous old-school stalwarts like Toronto and the Calgary Flames changing course on the idea of analytics. Most of these advanced statistics start out as an idea or a concept about how hockey should or does work, so here's to 2015 bringing even more fresh ideas and maybe some new ways to measure and look at the sport, fancy or otherwise.
For the Super 16 this week, here are some interesting and maybe even surprising statistics from the 2014 calendar year, all of which were found by utilizing the wonderful "sort by date range" tool at www.war-on-ice.com.
DISCLAIMER: While the Super 16 is NHL.com's weekly power rankings, it focuses more on the "power" than the "rankings" when determining the order. It's not always going to look like the League standings and likely will take more of a long view than a short one. If two teams are close the tiebreaker almost always is this: If the two teams started a seven-game series right now, who would prevail? Stop by to see where your favorite team ranks, but stay for the information. All rankings, records and statistics are through the games played Wednesday night.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (25-10-2)
For all of Chicago's dominance at even strength, none of the 35 players with more than 15 goals at evens played for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are both part of a group at 15.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (24-11-4)
Not only did forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat quickly earn coach Jon Cooper's trust on the penalty kill, Johnson is tied for the NHL lead with five shorthanded goals. Defenseman Victor Hedman and Palat were among six players with at least three primary shorthanded assists as well.
3. Nashville Predators (24-9-3)
Defensemen Shea Weber and Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson led all defensemen (well, full-time defensemen) in goals in 2014 with 20. Weber was third in points at the position with 57, behind only Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames (65) and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators (61).
4. St. Louis Blues (22-12-3)
The forwards among the leaders in time on ice percentage in all situations for 2014 are mostly the usual suspects, guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Claude Giroux. Alexander Steen led all non-centers at 33.7 percent, checking in at seventh overall right in front of Alex Ovechkin and Kyle Okposo among wings.
5. New York Islanders (25-11-1)
Jack Capuano was not bashful about getting his best offensive players on the ice in offensive situations in 2014. Tavares and Okposo were fourth and fifth in the League in highest percentage of offensive zone starts among forwards with at least 500 minutes of even strength ice time at 75.4 percent and 74.5 percent, respectively.
6. Anaheim Ducks (24-9-6)
The Ducks' leaders in Corsi-for percentage among defensemen in 2014 were Josh Manson (55.4 percent in an admittedly small sample of 18 games), Hampus Lindholm (52.1) and Sami Vantanen (51.3). The kids are alright on the blue line.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-9-5)
Forward Patric Hornqvist had 13 goals in 33 games for the Penguins in 2014. The man he replaced (and was traded for), James Neal, also had 13 in 37 games. Hornqvist has outproduced Neal overall and on the power play on a per 60-minute basis, though Neal edged him slightly at even strength.
8. San Jose Sharks (20-13-5)
Quick: Name the most prolific power-play scorer in 2014. It wasn't Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos. Among players with at least 220 minutes of extra-man ice time (to account for Stamkos' injury), Joe Pavelski easily led the League with 4.6 goals per 60 minutes. Ovechkin was third and Stamkos was fifth. Wayne Simmonds, at 3.6 per 60 minutes, was second.
9. Los Angeles Kings (18-12-8)
Jake Muzzin led defensemen in Corsi-for percentage in 2014 and in the raw differential of shot attempts (plus-421). His partner Drew Doughty was on the ice for the second-most shot attempts with 1,522, behind only Karlsson in Ottawa.
10. Detroit Red Wings (20-9-9)
There were 10 players who scored at least 21 goals at even strength in 2014. Gustav Nyquist was one, but he wasn't the only guy on the team. Tomas Tatar equaled his goal production (each had 21) at evens.
11. Montreal Canadiens (24-11-2)
Forward Max Pacioretty led all players with seven points (second in goals with four) when the opposing goaltender was pulled. He was also sixth in hits received among forwards with 163, joining a group at the top of that list that includes Nazem Kadri, Andrew Shaw, David Clarkson, Hornqvist and Taylor Hall.
12. Winnipeg Jets (19-12-7)
The Jets were one of the better teams in 4-on-4 situations in 2014. Three Winnipeg players (Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd) were among the top 20 in Corsi-for percentage at 4-on-4, and Jacob Trouba led all players with four goals in that situation.
13. Florida Panthers (16-10-9)
Here are some Fenwick-for percentages for the Panthers in 2014: Aleksander Barkov (55.4), Aaron Ekblad (53.1) and Nick Bjugstad (51.1). The future looks pretty sunny in South Florida.
14. Washington Capitals (18-11-7)
The Capitals kept Tom Wilson on the roster last season and didn't use him a whole lot, but he's seen more ice time in 2014-15. He does appear to possess a very underrated skill: The ability to draw penalties. He drew 47 in 2014, three more than Evgeni Malkin for the NHL lead.
15. Vancouver Canucks (21-11-3)
Eddie Lack had a .920 even-strength save percentage in 39 games for the Canucks in 2014. Ryan Miller checked in at .913 in 27 games. Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo both finished 2014 at .930.
16. New York Rangers (20-11-4)
Fifteen players scored at least 30 goals in 2014, but Rick Nash scored more per 60 minutes (1.9) than anyone in that group. He also led all players in goals per 60 minutes at even strength (1.8).