I tackled the typical points/goals/plus-minus leaders in an earlier post, so I thought I’d take a look at some of the odd stats from the first week of hockey. Small sample sizes can make for some strange numbers, so enjoy this look around the league. (Feel free to spout some strange stats of your own in the comments, too.)
- Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller leads the league in saves by a wide margin. He’s made 150 in four games played, 40 more than Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth made in the same amount of starts.
- Dustin Brown and Chris Kunitz are tied for the league lead in hits with 19, but Brown did it in three games while Kunitz produced that many in four. Both are frequent hitters, but Brown has the best chance to land in the top 10 this season. Considering his ability to score between 20 and 30 goals, Brown could be a very valuable player in fantasy hockey leagues that include hits as a stat category.
- To echo an earlier post about the Ducks’ tendency to take too many penalties, three Ducks lead the NHL in penalty minutes. Bobby Ryan has 27 so far this season, followed by Corey Perry (25) and Sheldon Brookbank (24). Paul Mara also ranks No. 8 in the league with 18. The first non-Duck is (wait for it) a member of the Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Hartnell (23).
- Mikko Koivu is the best faceoff winner from a quantity standpoint so far this season. (I value total faceoff wins more than faceoff percentage because better centers take more draws and naturally will lose more than situational centers.) Despite playing in one less game than second place man Jonathan Toews (who went 54-38 for a 58.7 percent success rate in four games), Koivu succeeded in winning 55 out of 80 draws so far this season. That 68.8 winning percentage is not sustainable for a full season, but it’s the kind of stat that shows how valuable the underrated (but not underpaid) Finn really is.
- Steve Montador leads the league in blocked shots with 15 in four games. There’s an “El Matador” pun in there somewhere, but I’m far too dignified to make it (naturally).
- The Boston Bruins lead the league in shots per game with 39.5 (although they’ve only played two games so far) while the red-hot Dallas Stars average the least shots per game with just 21.7. The St. Louis Blues have given up the fewest shots per game so far (22) while the Ducks (46) and Phoenix Coyotes (39.5) have some work to do.
- The Minnesota Wild converted a league-leading 43.8 percent of their powerplay opportunities so far this season, while the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens are the only teams without a power-play goal in 2010-11.
So those are some interesting stats from the first week in the NHL. It should be interesting to see if any trends are forming or if a few players/teams are simply playing over their heads.