Cat nip for stat nerds

Scott Cullen of TSN posted some of his award picks and some interesting stats through the first three quarters of the NHL season today. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in season totals, milestones and league leaders for the “big” stats that we forget about the bruisers and scrappers.

Using Cullen’s list as my guide, here are some of the most interesting, bizarre and amusing stats you’ll come across.

  • 27:12 minutes per game give Joni Pitkanen the NHL’s league lead in average time on ice. (I guess that’s what happens when you’re a half-decent defenseman on a nowhere near decent team.)
  • David Koci gets beaten down enough in most of his career fights, but his ego should be bruised even more because he has the league’s lowest per game time on ice average of just three minutes. Essentially, you could go get a beer and never see Koci play for an entire game. (I guess you can’t really blame him for a league low 2 blocked shots since he’s rarely on the ice.)
  • Cal Clutterbuck owns one of the NHL’s funniest last names as well as the league lead in hits at 256. He’s a little banged up, though, so he better watch Ryan Callahan who’s only one hit behind him at 255.
  • The Sedin twins keep ascending the NHL’s ladder of elite players, but you’ll never call them the Clutterbuck Cousins. Daniel has a league low 6 hits while Henrik has 11. That combines for, what, a week of Callahan hits?
  • Dennis Seidenberg’s nickname should be “puck sponge” (although that sounds kind of bad now that I think of it). He is by far the NHL’s leader in blocked shots with 186.
  • I used to associate the Red Wings with faceoff dominance, but the Sharks are clearly the class of the league now. Manny Malhotra leads the league with a 61.8% faceoff percentage but his teammate Scott Nichol is just behind him with 61.5%. Joe Pavelski is sixth in the league with a 60.1% rate. Both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are solid in the dot too.
  • Two Montreal players lead the league in the shameful category of giveaways; Roman Hamrlik is the “champion” with 77 turnovers. It’s not surprising that Pavel Datsyuk is the league leader in takeaways with 101 but his lead is staggering. The closest competitor is certified man crush Ryan Kesler with 68.
  • Finally, one of my favorite lesser-known stats is penalty differential. Dustin Brown is an artist at drawing penalties with a league leading 31. Rugged Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr probably doesn’t draw too many penalties, so it’s not that jarring that he ranks last in differential with a minus-19.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner)

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    Video: Marc Staal was no match for Alex Ovechkin on this goal

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against New York Islanders during the second period at Verizon Center on October 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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    After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.

    That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.

    It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

    To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.

    As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.

    It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.

    That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.

    Red Wings’ Abdelkader out with lower body injury

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.

    The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.

    He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.

    He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.

    After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.

    According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

    Former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers hospitalized

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    OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.

    Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.

    Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

    Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.

    Ales Hemsky returns to Stars lineup tonight

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.

    The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.

    He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

    Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.

    With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.