Patrick Marleau, Antti Niemi

Who has the best and worst shot differential in the NHL?


Earlier in the week, we looked at the best and worst special teams in the NHL. After which one commenter wrote, “These numbers don’t mean jack.”

So in hopes of building off such a rave review, here are the shot differentials for all 30 teams, ranked from highest to lowest:

S/G SA/G Diff
1 SAN JOSE 35.0 27.9 7.1
2 CHICAGO 33.3 27.3 6.0
3 LOS ANGELES 31.5 26.4 5.1
4 NY RANGERS 33.0 29.6 3.4
5 BOSTON 32.2 28.9 3.3
6 ANAHEIM 31.4 28.5 2.9
7 ST LOUIS 29.1 26.3 2.8
8 VANCOUVER 30.7 28.8 1.9
9 PITTSBURGH 30.0 28.8 1.2
10 DALLAS 31.6 30.5 1.1
11 NY ISLANDERS 30.8 30.0 0.8
12 NEW JERSEY 26.4 25.6 0.8
13 CAROLINA 31.5 30.9 0.6
14 NASHVILLE 29.3 28.8 0.5
15 DETROIT 30.1 29.6 0.5
16 WINNIPEG 30.8 30.4 0.4
17 TAMPA BAY 29.7 29.3 0.4
18 PHILADELPHIA 30.0 30.1 -0.1
19 PHOENIX 31.1 31.7 -0.6
20 MINNESOTA 27.0 28.1 -1.1
21 CALGARY 26.7 28.1 -1.4
22 COLUMBUS 29.2 30.7 -1.5
23 FLORIDA 29.7 31.2 -1.5
24 OTTAWA 32.7 34.5 -1.8
25 MONTREAL 28.7 30.5 -1.8
26 COLORADO 29.3 32.7 -3.4
27 WASHINGTON 30.0 33.5 -3.5
28 EDMONTON 27.0 32.4 -5.4
29 TORONTO 27.9 36.2 -8.3
30 BUFFALO 26.2 34.6 -8.4


— These numbers mean something. Three of the top five teams are the last four Stanley Cup winners, and right down at the bottom you have the NHL’s worst team.

— Yep, that’s why goaltending has been so important in Toronto, Colorado and Montreal this season. The Maple Leafs in particular have played a dangerous game with all the time they’ve spent in their own end. In a related story, Joffrey Lupul’s attempted clearance last night versus Tampa Bay will not go down as the best ever:

— In addition to shot quantity, there’s definitely a discussion to be had about shot quality. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about topics in the stats community. You hear arguments like this all the time with teams like the Islanders: How can you blame their poor goalies with all the defensive gaffes they make that lead to prime scoring chances? And there’s something to be said for that argument. That being said, Garth Snow has to do something about his goaltending. The last time the most important position in hockey was a strength on Long Island was what, 2006-07?

Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller
1 Comment

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

“I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

“We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

“I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

“I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

“Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.