Thursday, October 13, 2016

30 teams, 30 numbers for the new NHL season

Hockey fans love numbers.

Granted, we don’t all love the same kind of numbers, and if they get too fancy we break out into yet another round of the Great Analytics Debate that’s been going on for five years and still flares up every 15 minutes or so. But we all love some numbers, even if they’re the old-fashioned kind.

Numbers are part of what makes sports fun.

So with the season finally underway, let’s go through the NHL and dig up one interesting number for each NHL team. Some may be surprising, some will reaffirm what we already know, and some will be just plain weird. And most of them won’t be all that complicated.

We'll go alphabetically, which means we start out west…

Anaheim Ducks

31 – Years since a team had led the NHL in both power-play and penalty-kill percentage before the Ducks pulled it off last year. (The last team to do it was the 84-85 Islanders.) That's typically the sort of performance that earns a coach a raise. In Anaheim, it got Bruce Boudreau fired, so the pressure will be on Randy Carlyle to keep both units humming.

Arizona Coyotes

300 – Power-play opportunities by the Coyotes last year, the most in the league by a wide margin. The gap between the Coyotes and the No. 2 team, the Flyers, was bigger than the gap between No. 2 and No. 10. But it didn't translate to much of an advantage, since the Coyotes also ranked first in time spent on the penalty kill.

Boston Bruins

1.25 – Goals scored per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time last year by David Pastrnak, which ranked third in the NHL. These sort of rate stats always yield some weird results, since they boost up players like Pastrnak who are productive without getting many minutes or much power-play time. Still, finishing third is impressive for a kid who didn't even turn 20 until the season was over.

Buffalo Sabres

1.84 – Goals-per-game of offensive support that the Sabres gave Robin Lehner in his 21 games last year, ranking him dead last among the 58 goalies who saw at least 20 games. Lehner's first season in Buffalo was a sidetracked by injury, and he only won five games. But his .924 save percentage was good, and with a little more support the success should come.

Calgary Flames

37 – Games in which the Flames allowed four or more goals last year, the most in the league. The Flames went 5-29-3 in those games; in their other 45 games, they were 30-11-4. The Brian Elliott acquisition looms kind of large.

It's fair to say that last night was not a great start.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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