Ryan Miller has helped the Sabres jump out of the gate to an Northeast Division leading 8-1-1 record. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Numbers never tell the full story…but they can sure fit the bill in a blog.
Here’s what happened, statistically speaking, heading into Halloween night:
The New Jersey Devils (6-0-0) and Pittsburgh Penguins (6-0-0) are perfect on the road. Then again, so is the Minnesota Wild (0-8-0).
Colorado (4-0-0) is perfect at home. Toronto (0-4-1)...not so much.
The Calgary Flames averaged 3.8 goals per game. The Nashville Predators did not (1.9 goals per game).
The Ottawa Senators killed off penalties (86.5 percent efficiency). The Toronto Maple Leafs got killed by penalties (63.8 percent). At least the Leafs knew what to do on the power play (27.9 percent), because the Nashville Predators sure didn’t (11.1 percent).
We’re not saying that it’s all Craig Anderson in Colorado, but the Avs were outshot by almost seven shots per game (34.1 to 25.6). Only the Oilers had a bigger shots against/for discrepancy (34.2 to 25.7).
Then again, Anderson’s Avs led the way with 252 blocked shots. You know who didn’t? The Buffalo Sabres (94 blocked shots).
Yes, the Avs (.786 points percentage), Penguins (.846) and Washington Capitals (.731) got off to great starts. But don’t forget Buffalo (.850). Despite their non-shot-blocking ways, the Sabres were one of only two NHL teams with a sub-2.00 goals-against average (1.90). The other? The Phoenix Coyotes? Yes…the Phoenix Coyotes (1.92).
It should come as no surprise, then, that the three goalies who led the NHL in save percentage were Buffalo’s Ryan Miller (.944), Colorado’s Anderson (.939) and Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov (.929).
Miller, by the way, was 8-0-1 with a ridiculous 1.64 GAA. Then again, this is the goalie whose GAA over three seasons at Michigan State was an NCAA-best 1.53, 1.32 and 1.77.
The Wild ain’t Jacques Lemaire’s team anymore: Brent Burns was an NHL-worst minus-13, while Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu was minus-10. Martin Havlat and Nick Schultz were also minus-10 and Greg Zanon was minus-9. John Scott and Cal Clutterbuck were way ahead of the Wild curve, at plus-3 and plus-1.
The overall plus/minus leader? How about Alex Goligoski at plus-13.
Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 14 goals and 23 points, just ahead of Los Angeles Kings-maker Anze Kopitar (10 goals, 21 points). Nearly one-half of Kopitar’s points have come on the power play (10 of 21), while the man advantage was responsible for about one-third of Ovechkin’s output (eight of 23).
And then there’s Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle: 10 of his 13 points – including all five points in Toronto’s first win of the year, a 6-3 decision over Anaheim – came courtesy of extra-man situations.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.
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