Ask Sportsnet Stats: How dominant are McDavid, Draisaitl really?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joins Hockey Central to talk about when fans can expect the return of hockey.

While the conversation in the sports world is (rightfully) about the lack of games due to the COVID-19 virus, our Sportsnet Stats team sparked a different conversation on Twitter Saturday night with the help of some questions from fans.

The questions covered a wide range of topics, sports and time periods, and our Stats team had all the answers.

Here are some of the highlights, broken down into three common categories.

The Edmonton Oilers are lucky to have McDavid and Draisaitl

More than one question was about the Edmonton Oilers‘ dynamic duo and the Stats team helped put into context just how good Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been — both this season and historically.

As the NHL scoring leaders currently sit, the two Oilers stars are Nos. 1 and 2 in the entire league with Draisaitl at 110 points and McDavid at 97. But that dominance isn’t a new thing. The two have combined on an NHL-best 197 goals since 2016-17, which is more than 21 per cent of all goals scored by the Oilers.

While the Oilers only have one playoff appearance in that time, the team currently sits second in the Pacific Division and will get another shot at the Stanley Cup if the season resumes.

Fun facts about champions

Many of the questions asked were about champions from different sports, specifically ones that had to overcome a lot of adversity to get to the top.

The first question was about teams that struggled after the all-star break but rebounded to win their league championship.

In the NHL, the best rebound was the 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens, who posted a 10-16-2 record in their 28 games after the all-star break (a .393 win percentage) but won the Stanley Cup thanks to the stellar play of rookie Patrick Roy in the playoffs.

In the NBA, the team that best turned post-all-star misfortune into a championship was the 1957-58 St. Louis Hawks, who beat the Boston Celtics in six games in the 12th edition of the NBA Finals despite posting a .429 win percentage after the all-star break. The Hawks moved to their current home in Atlanta in 1968 and haven’t won a championship since that 1958 title.

Someone else asked about the closest near-perfect season in the NHL, which turns out to belong to a team that didn’t win the Stanley Cup. That was the 1929-30 Boston Bruins, a club that was swept in the best-of-three Stanley Cup Final by the Canadiens despite posting a 38-5-1 record in the regular season.

The Stats team was also able to dig up some more obscure facts about Stanley Cup champions, including the player taken lowest in the draft to win and the shortest players who’ve ever lifted the Cup.

Records that might never be broken

Finally, some fans asked our Stats team about some obscure records that might never be broken in sports.

The first question was about penalty minutes and specifically the most penalized team. In 1992-93, the Buffalo Sabres took a whopping 2,713 penalty minutes, which is 45 games worth. Leading the way on that roster was forward Brad May, who had 242 PIMs, but he only ranked 15th across the NHL in the category. Defenceman Gord Donnelly (221) and forward Rob Ray (211) also cracked the 200 PIM mark that season. By comparison, Evander Kane leads the NHL to this point with 122.

In the NBA, someone asked who holds the record for most blocks in a season. That belongs to former Utah Jazz centre Mark Eaton, who had 456 blocks in 1984-85, shattering the previous record of 393 held by Elmore Smith.

Some other records that were asked about include the most games it took for someone to score their first NHL goal, the best rookie goal scorers in the NHL and the worst goal differentials in NHL history.

While we don’t know how long it will be before live sports return, it’s still fun to look back on sports history with numbers while we wait.

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