Dominant perennial Cup contenders of years past like the Blackhawks and Kings are in the midst of a tailspin, although the Penguins have started turning things around.
The Lightning have emerged as the class of the league yet fellow powerhouses such as the Predators, Jets and Maple Leafs are keeping the Presidents’ Trophy race close.
It’s our NHL Power Rankings: Random Stats and Fun Facts Edition, so here’s an assortment of numbers and tidbits for you to digest.
As usual, the clubs are ranked in order of current strength.
Unquestionably deserving of the top spot, Tampa is averaging an even 4.0 goals per game. Since 2000, the highest average for a team over the course of a season is the 3.82 goals per game the 2009-10 Capitals managed. The likelihood of the Bolts keeping this pace up would appear slim based on recent history, but they did lead the NHL with 3.54 goals per game in 2017-18 and this year’s edition of the team is superior. The last team to score more than 4.0 goals per game was the 1995-96 Penguins when they averaged 4.41 goals per game over 82 contests.
You better be ready to go from the opening faceoff when playing the Leafs, who are 15-0-1 when they open the scoring. The only team in the league still without a regulation loss when getting out to a 1-0 lead.
NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin would need to play another 429 regular-season contests at his current goals-per game rate in order to catch Wayne Gretzky and his record 894 goals.
Kyle Connor has scored a goal on his birthday in two consecutive years, so next Dec. 9, if the Jets are on the sked, you know what to expect. According to one horoscope website, people born on this day are “are very attentive to details and resourceful.” Connor has displayed this on the ice, certainly. Other NHLers with a Dec. 9 birthday? Jeff Petry, Alex Lyon and Jets teammate Joe Morrow.
The Preds sit atop the West standings yet ironically they are only 11-10-1 against Western Conference teams. They are, however, the only team yet to lose a game to a team from the opposing conference; 9-0-0 against the East.
For a brief moment this past week, the Flames were alone atop the Western Conference standings – something that hadn’t happened this late into a season in more than a quarter century.
Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner are both on pace to register more than 80 points this season. The last time more than one member of the Sabres did that in the same season was in 2007-08 when Derek Roy and Jason Pominville led the team in scoring. With 38 points through 31 games, Eichel is on pace to register his first 100-point NHL campaign, which has only happened six previous times in Sabres history.
Mikko Rantanen leads the league with 52 points through 31 games and is on pace to score 137 points. That would be the highest total for an Art Ross winner since Mario Lemieux’s insane 1995-96 campaign, during which he notched a silly 69 goals and 161 points in 70 games. Nathan MacKinnon is currently second in scoring with five fewer points than Rantanen. If they can sustain their lead they’d become the first pair of teammates to finish one-two in scoring since Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos finished first and second, respectively in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
The Bruins’ penalty box is often crowded. The team averages 12:05 PIMs per game, the most in the league, and leads all teams with 13 majors.
10. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers went 8-2-1 in Ken Hitchcock’s first 11 games behind the Oilers’ bench. Hitch coaching in Edmonton comes naturally. The veteran bench boss is from the city and got his start in coaching with the Sherwood Park Chain Gang in midget AAA. His record with the Chain Gang over the years was 575-69. Not too bad.
11. Anaheim Ducks
Daniel Sprong, who is fitting in nicely with his new team and recently scored his first goal with the Ducks after being acquired from the Penguins, is the NHL’s first Dutch-born player since 1959.
Keep your head up when William Carrier and Ryan Reaves are on the ice. Carrier leads all players with 165 hits and Reaves is second with 127.
13. San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton has been a milestone machine this season and became one of seven players in NHL history to score at least 400 goals, register at least 1,000 assists and skate in more than 1,500 games.
Sidney Crosby is averaging more than a point per game for the 14th consecutive season. No other current player can say that.
15. Dallas Stars
Tyler Seguin is third in the NHL in shots on goal behind only Jack Eichel and Nathan MacKinnon. Seguin’s 6.5 shooting percentage is the worst of his career thus far.
16. Minnesota Wild
Zach Parise leads his team in goals and is on pace for his highest total since he buried a career high 45 nearly a decade ago in 2008-09.
Max Domi has 14 goals in his first 31 games with the Canadiens, the same number of goals he scored over the course of his final 120 games with the Coyotes.
There are 117 undrafted skaters that have played in at least one game in 2018-19. Artemi Panarin leads all of them with 32 points in 30 games.
Once again, the Islanders have the worst attendance in the NHL. They’re averaging 10,848 for their home games.
20. New York Rangers
Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik (twice) are the only Rangers to hit the 30-goal plateau since the 2005-06 season. Chris Kreider, who leads the team with 14 goals, is on pace to get there.
Dylan Larkin already has three overtime winners this year, which is tied for the league lead with Jeff Skinner of the Sabres. The last Red Wings player to register three OT winners in one season was Brendan Shanahan in 2003-04. No Red Wings player has ever scored four regular-season overtime goals in the same year.
The “Skol clap” the Hurricanes and their fans participate in following home victories comes from the soccer world. Team Iceland supporters popularized it at Euro 2016 but the first team to make it a tradition was a Scottish club called Motherwell F.C.
Elias Pettersson is just the sixth rookie since NHL expansion in 1967 to record at least two five-point games. The others are Bryan Trottier, brothers Peter, Anton and Marian Stastny, plus Mathew Barzal one season ago.
24. Arizona Coyotes
The Yotes are the only team yet to receive a major penalty this season.
25. St. Louis Blues
The Blues are one of 11 teams to never win a Stanley Cup. Their 50-year drought since entering the league is tied with the Maple Leafs for longest active streak without a Cup.
26. Florida Panthers
Keith Yandle, the NHL’s active ironman leader, hasn’t missed a game since 2008-09 and his 13th year as a pro has been perhaps his best. He has been nearly a point-per-game player this year and is on pace to set a new career high.
The Flyers are the best faceoff team in the NHL, winning 55.4 per cent of their draws. Six Flyers forwards have taken at least 40 faceoffs and all of them have a winning percentage that falls between 53.9 and 60 per cent. Ironically, it hasn’t helped their special teams. Their penalty kill (71.7 per cent) is dead last and power play (13.6 per cent) is third worst.
28. Ottawa Senators
Matt Duchene has 22 points in 15 games since the team’s infamous Uber video went public. He had 12 points in the 14 games prior.
Taylor Hall had 41 more points than his next closest teammate in 2017-18 en route to winning the Hart Trophy. This year the gap between him and No. 2 Kyle Palmieri is just four points.
‘Tis the season for giving and Drew Doughty leads the NHL in giveaways with 56 compared to only seven takeaways. Fellow Kings blue-liners Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin are also top 10 in giveaways.
Playing from behind is never ideal and it’s a huge reason why the Blackhawks are where they are. They’ve allowed an NHL-worst 47 first-period goals. That’s 12 more than the next-worst teams, the Canadiens and Lightning.