We’re at the halfway point of the season, and everything is exactly the way we expected it would be.
Every hockey campaign packs a few surprises. Here are some of the most unexpected stats from around the NHL so far this season.
• The Edmonton Oilers’ 31st-ranked penalty kill (70.5 per cent) is historically bad. Their 70.5 penalty kill percentage is the worst of any NHL team dating back three decades.
• The Buffalo Sabres had the NHL’s top power play last season (24.5 per cent), but have fallen all the way to the bottom of the league in that category (12.4 per cent) this year — above only the Columbus Blue Jackets (11.4).
• Tampa Bay’s rookie defenceman, Mikhail Sergachev, has more goals (8) and points (25) than Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin (5G, 18P) this season. The two were swapped for one another in a trade last June and will be compared their whole careers because of it.
• There’s an unfamiliar face at the top of the league’s scoring leaders: Josh Bailey. The New York Islanders winger already has 50 points on the season (12G, 38A), which ties him for second in points league-wide (!) and is just six shy of last year’s career-high 82-game total.
• We seem to have our Karlssons mixed up: Vegas Golden Knights centreman William Karlsson already has 20 goals through 39 games this season (good for sixth in the category across the league). The better known Erik Karlsson, on the other hand, has just three goals so far and is sitting on a minus-20 rating as the Ottawa Senators’ struggles continue.
• Speaking of Swedes… while Karlsson (William, that is) is the top Swedish player in goals scored, he doesn’t lead his fellow countrymen in overall points. That title belongs to Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg, whose 36 points (5G, 31A) have him leading all NHL defencemen. (Another Carlson — John, this time — ranks second.)
• Vegas is a playoff team? Yup, Vegas is a playoff team. The brand new franchise has a 27-10-2 record through 39 games, including a league-best 17-2-1 at home, and continues to break expansion-team records. They currently have a three-point cushion atop the Pacific Division and sit second overall in the NHL’s standings behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning.
They also finished the calendar year on a record-setting win streak.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks and Oilers are all sitting outside the playoff picture right now.
• We’ve seen some significant (and surprising) droughts through the first three months of the season: Star defenceman Brent Burns went 20 games before finally burying his first of the season, while Nazem Kadri and Max Pacioretty didn’t score a single goal all December.
• Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser is scoring at record pace.
Brock Boeser becomes the fastest player in #Canucks history to score 25 goals (44 career games)
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 29, 2017
His 21 goals account for 19.8 per cent of the Canucks’ goals scored this year, and has him sitting in fifth place league-wide in total goals.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 5, 2018
We knew the forward, drafted 23rd overall in 2015, would be good — especially after his short-but-sweet nine-game debut last season, when he scored four goals — but the fact that he’s this good has been one of the best surprises so far.
• Good news, coaches: