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Five surprising stats from the first half of the 2017-18 NHL season

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Just about every team in the league has played at least half of its schedule for the 2017-18 season. There have been a lot of surprising results.

Let us take a quick look at a few of the more stunning ones.

1. Dustin Byfuglien only has one goal

Over the previous four seasons Byfuglien scored 70 goals, the fifth most out of any defenseman in the league. So far this season? He has one. Granted, he has also missed 12 games due to injury but still only have a single goal in 31 games is pretty stunning for Byfuglien given his track record. Especially since he still has one of the most powerful shots in the NHL and is still averaging close to two-and-a-half shots on goal per game.

2. Josh Bailey … potential 90-point scorer?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how the 100-point scorer is trying to make a comeback this season with a handful of players all flirting with that pace. As of now Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon and Claude Giroux are the only three still on that pace, but that would still be a stunning development given that only five players have done it since 2010-11. After them there are another five players on pace for at least 90 points — John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Jakub Voracek, Blake Wheeler … and Josh Bailey?

Bailey is a solid player. This is his 10th season in the league. Before this season he has topped 40 points just two times, and only 50 points once (56 a year ago). He is just six points away from matching his career high with still half a season to play.

3. Everything involving Vegas

William Karlsson already with 22 goals after scoring only 18 in his career before the season. They’re also the fourth highest scoring team in the league. How about already having four different goalies that have each won at least three games? Or how about the simple fact they have already won 29 of their first 41 games. The 29 wins is already more than Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus, Minnesota, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and San Jose all won in their first seasons. They are only four behind what Florida and Anaheim did in their first seasons.

4. Michael Grabner has more empty net goals than assists

Michael Grabner is still chasing an obscure NHL record with all of his empty net goals. As of Tuesday he has more empty net goals (six) than assists (4). He has one of the most lopsided disparities between total goals and assists in the league (18-4) after doing the same a year ago (27-13).

Another surprising Grabner stat: Since the start of the 2016-17 season his 44 even-strength goals are the fourth most in the NHL, trailing only Auston Matthews (49), Nikita Kucherov (47), and Vladimir Tarasenko (45).

5. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been unbeatable for the Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a pair of MVP candidates in Kucherov and Stamkos, a Norris Trophy contender in Victor Hedman, and, very quietly it seems, a Vezina Trophy front-runner in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Given how great their offense has been it can be easy for Vasilevskiy to get lost a little bit, but his play this season has been nothing short of spectacular.

He is already on top of the league with 26 wins (in 32 starts) and he is also carrying a .935 save percentage into the second half.

In the history of the league only six goalies have played at least 30 games in a season and finished with a save percentage above .935 — Jacques Plante in 1968-69 and 1970-71, Brian Elliott in 2011-12, Tim Thomas in 2010-11, and Cory Schneider in 2011-12.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Spezza bounces back after healthy scratch; another injury for Predators

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Player Of The Night: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.

When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.

Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.

He snapped out of it in a big way on Tuesday.

Another big injury for Nashville

The Nashville Predators are already playing without two of their top forwards with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson sidelined.

They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.

Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.

The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.

Highlight Of The Night

Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Factoid Of The Night

A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.

Scores

New Jersey Devils 4, New York Islanders 1

New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1

Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

St. Louis Blues 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

Nashville Predators 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0

San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Blackhawks concerned Crawford could miss remainder of season

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Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.

Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.

Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.

[Related: Corey Crawford has become the Blackhawks’ most important player]

In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.

In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.

As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Rick Nash snaps out of slump, powers Rangers to huge win

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The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.

Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.

Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.

Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.

Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.

But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.

The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey