We’ve seen some spectacular goals and great saves already this season. There are teams that have defied expectations and players that have put themselves on the map.
We’re not talking about them right now.
Let’s instead focus on the bottom of the barrel. Here are some of the worst looking team-based statistics in the NHL right now:
The New York Rangers have a goals for/against ratio in 5-on-5 situations of just 0.30. In fact, through eight games this season, the Rangers have scored just six goals when both teams were at full strength. To give that some context, the team with the least 5-on-5 goals last season was New Jersey with 65 in 48 games. The worst ratio was Florida’s 0.57.
Just how important is getting on the board first in the NHL? Last season the team that scored first had a 504-140-73 record. This season though, there are a few teams that haven’t managed to benefit from that early lead. The Edmonton Oilers are just 1-4-1 in those situations while New Jersey is 1-2-4. However, the worst by far is the Buffalo Sabres — sort of. Buffalo has actually only scored the first goal once this season and they lost that game in overtime.
The Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, and Sabres have a combined 0-8-2 record when outshooting their opponents.
The Anaheim Ducks have done a lot of things right this season, but one thing they can’t seem to do is capitalize on their power-play chances. They are just three-for-44 with the man advantage. Montreal, Los Angeles, and Vancouver all have as many shorthanded goals as the Ducks do power-play markers.
The Flyers still haven’t scored more than two goals in a game — and they aren’t even last in the league in terms of goals/game. That would be the Sabres at 1.42 to Philadelphia’s 1.44.
The Calgary Flames can’t seem to hold their own in the faceoff circle. They have just a 42.9 percentage on the draw so far this season. The worst team of the salary cap era has been the 2010-11 Edmonton Oilers with a 44.2% success rate.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: