Patrick Marleau, Antti Niemi

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

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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?

Varlamov steps up with ‘phenomenal’ performance versus Red Wings

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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DETROIT (AP) Semyon Varlamov lifted his team to a win on a night when the rest of the Colorado Avalanche were outplayed thoroughly.

Varlamov made 43 saves and Blake Comeau scored in both the third period and the shootout to help the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. It was the highest save total of the season for Varlamov.

“He was phenomenal for us,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “We had back-to-back games and got in late last night. Not trying to find an excuse, but they’re a good puck-possession team. Our goalie needed to be our best player for us to win and he was.”

Matt Duchene also scored for the Avalanche, who won despite being outshot 45-21. Colorado has won nine of its last 12 road games.

Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

“I thought we played really good,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought our energy level was great, I thought we won tons of puck races and puck battles in the `O’ zone, I thought we shot the puck well, we had net presence. … What you can really control is your process and I thought our process was great.”

The Avalanche, who won at Ottawa on Thursday, improved to 6-2 on the season in the second game of back-to-backs. The shootout went four rounds, and Comeau ended it by beating Petr Mrazek with a wrist shot to the glove side.

Datsyuk scored Detroit’s only goal of the shootout. Varlamov denied Dylan Larkin, Brad Richards and Gustav Nyquist.

Nathan MacKinnon had Colorado’s first goal of the shootout on the third attempt by the Avalanche – Detroit would have won if Mrazek had stopped him.

“We play a team game. A goalie can’t win a game by himself,” Varlamov said. “We scored two nice goals, and then in the shootout a nice goal by Nate saved us and then Blake scored on a nice shot.”

Duchene opened the scoring in the first period after the Red Wings were sloppy with the puck in their own zone. Colorado’s Mikhail Grigorenko backhanded a pass to Duchene, who scored from around the edge of the crease.

Detroit evened it up in the second when Ericsson’s wrist shot from the point deflected off Duchene and then skipped off the ice surface and past Varlamov.

Comeau put Colorado ahead in the third with a shot from the slot, but the Red Wings answered on a power play when Datsyuk backhanded the puck past Varlamov from in close with 10:09 remaining in regulation.

The Avalanche had 25 blocked shots to Detroit’s four, underscoring just how much of the game was played in Colorado’s zone, but the Red Wings came away with just the one point for the shootout loss. Nyquist had a great chance in overtime when he swooped in alone on Varlamov, but his backhander was stopped.

Detroit’s Darren Helm had a career-high nine shots on goal.

“He’s shooting from everywhere,” Detroit’s Luke Glendening said. “I was hoping one would go in for him, but I think it’s a good sign that he’s getting a lot of chances.”

NOTE: Detroit D Mike Green returned after missing two games with a sore groin, and D Danny DeKeyser played after leaving Detroit’s win over Ottawa on Wednesday during the third period because of a bruised right leg. … The Red Wings were short-handed for the final 92 seconds of overtime, but managed to kill the penalty.

 

Doan makes Jets/Coyotes franchise history

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The Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise has a new leader in career points.

Shane Doan set the new mark at 931 points, taking over the franchise lead from Dale Hawerchuk thanks to a three-point night in a 4-1 Coyotes win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.

He scored twice — his first goal of the night tied Hawerchuk’s record — and added an assist. At 39 years of age, Doan has 21 goals this season and is on pace for his best season in that department since he scored 31 in 2008-09.

In fact, at his age and this stage in his NHL career, he could set a new personal best for goals in a single season.

Despite all the off-ice turmoil the Coyotes have gone through, and the speculation of that franchise possibly uprooting from the desert, Doan has hung in there.

That’s not to say he hasn’t spoken out at times about the constant controversies that have come up between the organization, the city of Glendale and the NHL.

In September of 2012, prior to the lockout, he had the choice to sign elsewhere. He narrowed his options down to Vancouver and Phoenix, eventually deciding to stick with the Coyotes.

No regrets.

Kopitar dominates with a hat trick to help Kings defeat Rangers in OT

St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings
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Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.

All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.

“It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

“Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”

L.A. maintains an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.

The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.

Video: P.K. Subban tossed after on-ice outburst toward officials

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P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.

Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.

Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.

“I looked around to see if he was going to blow [the whistle,]” said Subban, as per Sportsnet. “The puck is coming out of the zone. It hits the linesman. He’s standing there and sees the puck coming. It goes back to the player and he puts it in the open net. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

“Are we supposed to smile and be happy after that and say, ‘Thank you’ to the linesman? I don’t think so. I’m a little bit disappointed about that, because I felt there was a minute left in the game [and] we still had a chance to score.”

The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.