Six stunning numbers at the NHL All-Star break
With the NHL on its All-Star break throughout the rest of the weekend it is time to once again do our periodic check in on some stunning numbers around the league.
What is standing out to us lately?
Have a look...
Offense is still up and goaltending is way down
The spike in offense around the NHL is always viewed through the lens of offensive players.
As in, look at how many 40-goal scorers we could have this season, or maybe a bunch of players will actually hit the 100-point mark again!
In the end, it means a lot more pucks are going in the net, and if a lot more pucks are going in the net, and more players are seeing their offensive numbers surge, that also has to mean that goalies are seeing their numbers drop. They are. Big time.
Right now there are only two goalies in the NHL that have appeared in at least 30 games and have a save percentage higher than .920.
On this same date a year ago there were nine, same as there was in 2016-17.
On this date in 2015-16 there were 11.
In 2014-15 there were 10.
The game might be shifting back to offense, at least until the league’s 31 coaches figure out how to shut it down again. They always do.
Southern California Power Outage
While everyone else in the NHL is scoring goals at an increased rate, the two southern California teams are stuck in another era. The Los Angeles Kings (2.26 goals per game) and the Anaheim Ducks (2.29) are the two lowest scoring teams in the league this season, and their marks would be among the 15-worst in the NHL over the past 10 years.
Among the teams they are keeping company with in that group: The 2013-14 and 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres Tank teams. The tanking 2014-15 Arizona Coyotes. Five different New Jersey Devils teams. The 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche team that only won 22 games and only recorded 48 points on the season.
These two teams are not only bad offensively for this season, they would be bad among the bad teams from worse offensive seasons. Not a great sign!
The percentage of the Edmonton Oilers goals this season, at the All-Star break, that Connor McDavid has a goal or an assist on.
That is insane. But not quite as insane as the fact that when he is on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Oilers are a positive possession team and outscore their opponents by a 31-22 margin (plus-nine goal differential), and drop down to a 48 percent possession team and get outscored 46-70 when he is not on the ice.
Keep in mind this is a team that also has another top-10 scorer in the league (Leon Draisaitl) on it and another No. 1 overall draft pick that is a pretty darn good player in his own right in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
That is just how bad the rest of the roster is.
The Vegas Golden Knights might be better in year two
Their record is slightly worse (though not by much), but they might actually be playing better than they did in their magical debut season.
Let’s just take a look at some of their underlying 5-on-5 numbers including Corsi Percentage (CF%), Scoring Chance percentage (SC%), High-Danger Scoring Chance percentage (HD SC%), Goals For percentage (GF%), their save percentage, shooting percentage, and PDO (5-on-5 save percentage plus 5-on-5 shooting percentage, a measure of “puck luck”) through the first 52 games of each season.
Their league-wide rank in each category is in parenthesis.
Interesting numbers here.
Their possession and scoring chance numbers are all significantly better and among the top in the league, right where the Stanley Cup contenders usually reside.
The big difference is in the goal differential, and a lot of that drop is probably related to 1) Lesser goaltending, and 2) Some poor shooting puck offensively. The fact they are creating as many shots and chances as they are, and dominating the way they have, is an encouraging sign that goal differential could spike. Vegas had a slow start to the season when some injuries piled up and they were still without Nate Schmidt, but once they got healthy they have really taken off.
And there is something else worth keeping in mind here: Their top line is not as good as it was a year ago. They are carrying the play at a high level while getting less production from their best group.
This team is legit, and it is for real.
Patric Hornqvist has taken only one penalty this season
This is kind of mind-blowing because Patric Hornqvist is one of the most relentless and physical players in the NHL. He is a pest around the front of the net, he is always bumping into goalies and wrestling with defenders around the crease, and he is so fiery and intense that he has been prone to take the occasional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Throughout his career he typically averages around 35-50 penalty minutes per 82 games played. Now, that does not put him in goon territory but it’s still far more than his current pace which would put him on track for 4.6 penalty minutes over 82 games this season.
No one is better than Aleksander Barkov at this
By now we should all know that Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov is one of the NHL’s best all-around players, mixing top-line skill with shutdown defense. One of his most underrated skills is his ability to put his team on the power play through drawn penalties and his ability to keep his team off of the penalty kill by never taking penalties. At the All-Star break he has already drawn a league-best 28 penalties this season, while only taking ... one. That is a penalty-differential of plus-27 on the season, a number that is far and away better than any other player in the league. Just for comparisons sake, the second best mark in the league belongs to Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson at plus-18. That is impressive on its own just because of how many games Pettersson has missed, but it is still not on the same level as Barkov.
The worst penalty differential in the league?
Winnipeg Jets defender Dustin Byfuglien and St. Louis Blues defender Joel Edmundson, both at minus-18.
(Data in this post via Natural Stat Trick)