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.
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.