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Noteworthy ‘other’ stats – Week 1 Edition

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.

Senators, Ceci agree to two-year, $5.6M contract

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 6: Cody Ceci #5 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on February 6, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion predicted 11 days ago that a new contract with defenseman Cody Ceci would get done “within the next few weeks.”

His timeline proved to be quite accurate.

On Tuesday, the Senators announced they had re-signed the 22-year-old Ceci, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.6 million.

The breakdown of the deal from the Senators states Ceci will receive $2.25 million in the first year of his new contract and $3.35 million in the second.

As per General Fanager, Ceci is slated to be a restricted free agent at the end of this deal, which means the Senators would have to match the salary Ceci made in the final season of the contract in their next qualifying offer to him two years from now.

It’s also a raise from the $1.369 million average annual value he was making with his entry-level contract. It was previously reported that the Senators offered Ceci both long and short-term deals.

The Senators put out a teaser of the news on Twitter, minutes before the announcement.

Ceci is from Ottawa, where he also played his junior hockey, and a first-round pick of the Senators in 2012.

In his second full season with the Senators, he posted a new single-season career high in goals with 10 and points with 26.

Report: Boughner and Dineen ‘major candidates’ for Avs gig, Arniel out

WINDSOR, ON - JANUARY 20:  Assistant Coach Bob Boughner of Team Orr points to a play on the ice during the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game against Team Cherry on January 20, 2010 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Just weeks after Patrick Roy’s shock departure, Colorado’s search for a new head coach appears to be taking shape.

There’s plenty to get into, so let’s go bullet points:

Per the Denver Post, a pair of assistant coaches — San Jose’s Bob Boughner and Chicago’s Kevin Dineen — have emerged as “major candidates” for the job.

• Also per the Post, Jared Bednar — the head coach of Columbus’ Calder Cup-winning AHL affiliate in Lake Erie — is in the mix for the Colorado gig as well.

• Another guy with Columbus ties, former head coach Scott Arniel, is reportedly out of contention, per the Dispatch. Arniel’s currently serving as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York.

• Other names in the mix include Vancouver property Travis Green (currently with AHL Utica) and longtime Barry Trotz assistant Lane Lambert (currently with Washington).

• Brad Larsen, currently one of John Tortorella’s assistants in Columbus and a former Avs player, won’t be getting an interview. Larsen’s name had apparently been floated earlier.

• And finally, if you’re wondering why so many guys with Columbus ties are in the mix, the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline explained that former BJ’s assistant GM Chris McFarland now has the same job in Colorado under Joe Sakic.

So there you go.

Poll: What’s a realistic point total for the Sabres?

Buffalo Sabres' Evander Kane (9) celebrates with teammate Ryan O'Reilly (90) after O'Reilly scored the winning goal during the overtime session of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
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This post is part of Buffalo Sabres day at PHT…

Last year, Detroit snagged the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with 93 points.

Two years ago, Pittsburgh did the same with 98.

In light of those totals, it’s not surprising to hear what Sabres head coach Dan Byslma pegged as the mark for the upcoming campaign.

“We should expect to be 95 points or higher than that,” Bylsma told NHL.com earlier this summer. “We think we’re better on defense. We think we’re stronger. We’re deeper. If you’re looking at expectations from within, we should be above 95 points at the end of the season.”

It’s a lofty goal, to say the least. Buffalo only had 81 last season.

But there is something to be said for Bylsma’s prediction, because his previous one worked out pretty well. In that same chat with NHL.com, the Sabres head coach said he and GM Tim Murray pegged last year’s club as an 80-to-85 point team, which proved accurate.

And if the last few seasons have shown anything, it’s that Buffalo is on the rise.

The Sabres had a meager 52 points three seasons ago, and made the slight bump up to 54 in ’14-15. Last year signified a huge leap forward — 27 points — which is probably why Bylsma is banking on a 14-15 point improvement (or more) this season.

Of course, this next push will prove more difficult.

For the Sabres to snap their five-year playoff drought, certain areas will need to improve. The club’s 25th-ranked offense needs to find the back of the net with more regularity, and the addition of prized free agent Kyle Okposo should help in that department.

In goal, Robin Lehner will need to stay healthy and appear in significantly more games (just 21 last season). And it remains to be seen what the ramifications from Evander Kane‘s controversial offseason will be.

So… what do you expect from Buffalo next season? Vote away.

Wild officially change goal song to Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’

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In what might be the most Minnesota post you’ll ever see on Buffalo day, the Wild have announced they’ve officially changed their goal song to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”

The announcement, made on Monday afternoon, came after the club surveyed season ticket holders to see how they felt about making the move a permanent one.

During the playoffs — Game 6 of their opening-round series against Dallas, to be specific — the Wild made the temporary goal song switch to commemorate their beloved hometown artist, who passed away on April 21.

“Our in-arena experience is designed for the fans, so it’s great to be able to show them we take their feedback to heart,” said Wild vice president of brand, content and communications John Maher. “At the same time, it’s our privilege to celebrate an iconic hometown artist that clearly has had an incredible impact on our community and the world.”