Philadelphia Flyers v Anaheim Ducks

Fun with stats: Who’s leading the 2012 playoffs


Every year, the playoffs provide small sample sizes that delight fans – particularly those who love surprises – and antagonize stat nerds. With between four and seven games to go in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals and some time off, this seems like a perfect time to take a look at the postseason stat leaders.

Most points: Ilya Kovalchuk (18 in 17 games played)

Kovalchuk also leads all postseason scorers with 11 assists. If the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup, he might just get his name on the Conn Smythe Trophy, which would really make a lot of people look silly for questioning his “clutchness.”

Most goals: Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere (eight apiece)

Despite missing a full round and only playing in 11 games max – Giroux actually missed one because of that suspension – the two Flyers’ forwards still are tied for the playoff Richard Trophy (so to speak). Giroux also only has one fewer point (17) than Kovalchuk. Those Philly forwards should be usurped soon enough, however, as Kovalchuk, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac are all tied for second with seven goals each.

Plus/minus: Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar (+13)

I’m not a huge fan of the plus/minus stat, but if nothing else, it’s another example of how dominant a one-two punch the Kings’ top forwards have been so far. Brown had a +18 all season long while Kopitar was at a +12 so they tend to win matchups anyway, but not to this extent.

Most points for a defenseman: Dan Girardi (12 points)

Bryce Salvador leads active blueliners with 11 points while Drew Doughty tops the Kings’ side with 10. Salvador got to that point in 18 games while Doughty only needed 14 to score 10 points. My money’s on Doughty finishing with the most points among playoff defensemen.

Most penalty minutes: Zac Rinaldo (48 PIM)

The Kings and Devils aren’t likely to fill the penalty minutes category. Dustin Penner leads active players with 26 PIM while Dustin Brown is right behind him with 24. David Clarkson has 20 to top the Devils. It will likely take the two teams a while to generate sincere hatred, too.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.

Flyers’ Gagner to miss another week after Malone hit

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The nasty blow Sam Gagner took in Monday’s game against Carolina will keep him on the shelf for a little bit.

On Wednesday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said the club expected Gagner to be out around a week with injuries suffered on the hit, delivered by ‘Canes forward Brad Malone (per the Inquirer).

Gagner suffered a fairly significant facial laceration, which forced him from the game entirely. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and, in a corresponding move, the Flyers called up Colin McDonald from the AHL to fill Gagner’s spot on the roster.

This is the second facial injury Gagner’s suffered in recent years. He’d previously had his jaw broken by an errant Zack Kassian high stick, while he was with the Oilers and Kassian the Canucks.

Prior to getting hurt, Gagner had two goals and five points in 18 games, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.