8 — Goals for Canadiens winger Dale Weise. Only two players — Jamie Benn (10) and Tyler Toffoli (9) — have more. This from a guy who’s never scored more than 10 goals in an NHL season, though he did rip up the Dutch league during the lockout, so he had that going for him. It’s not like Weise has scored on half his shots either. He has 36 shots, third most on the Habs.
1.83 — The goals-against average of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the second lowest in the league. For all the talk about the Pens’ scoring woes — and that talk is justified, to be sure — credit should be given to how well they’ve played defensively. Sure, much of the credit goes to Marc-Andre Fleury, whose .939 save percentage ranks right up there among the goalie leaders. And Pittsburgh still needs more from its highly paid scorers, because maintaining a .939 save percentage all season is highly unlikely for any goalie. But the Pens are finding ways to win. They’re 8-4-0, and that’s not bad at all.
32.7 — Shots per game for the Buffalo Sabres. No team in the NHL is averaging more. Pretty remarkable stuff from the team that finished dead last in the same category last season, at just 24.2. Now it’s simply a matter of, um, scoring on those shots.
45.7 — The percentage of faceoffs the Predators have won, the lowest success rate in the NHL. This only falls in the “surprising” category because so much emphasis is put on faceoff stats, when in reality there isn’t an ironclad correlation between winning teams and good faceoff teams. The Preds are 8-2-2. They’re still an excellent possession team, and that’s a much better predictor of success. In the end, faceoffs are one of those things where it’s nice to be good at them, but if you’re not, it’s not the end of the world. Just go win most of the other battles.
90.5% — The Anaheim Ducks’ penalty killing, the highest success rate in the NHL. Yet another statistic that underscores how badly this team has struggled to score. The Ducks are 3-7-2, and they have the best PK in the league. Amazing. In case you’re wondering, their power play has been awful (10.8%, 28th).
This is one of the questions we asked in our season preview. I chose Colorado and Winnipeg. The Avs were a slam dunk for me, but I seriously considered every other team before I settled on the Jets. If I had to pick again today, I might choose Minnesota. Or maybe even Chicago. Or, I might just throw six team names in a hat.
Anyway, I’m glad it was one of our questions, because the Central Division is every bit as strong as we thought it would be, if not stronger.
Here’s what the standings look like today:
Remember, only five teams can make the playoffs from any division.
We won’t include Colorado in the poll, because, well, you know. (Prove me wrong, Avs!) So assuming only three Pacific Division teams qualify, who’s going to be the one out of the six to miss in the Central?
The last time Ryan Miller played a game in Buffalo — on Feb. 25, 2014 — he was in goal for the hometown Sabres.
He didn’t play there after he was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and a knee injury last season kept him from starting for Vancouver when the Canucks traveled there in February.
Tomorrow afternoon, finally, he’ll play there again.
“To be there so long, then go cold turkey, it is a little bit strange,” Miller told the Vancouver Sun. “My parents are coming because going to Buffalo was a big part of their lives as well. And we’re going to be there a little early so there’s a chance to say hi. They have friends in Buffalo.”
Miller is enjoying a fine — and busy — beginning to the 2015-16 season. He’s started all but one of the Canucks’ 13 games, and has a .923 save percentage to show for it.
Vancouver announced yesterday that backup Jacob Markstrom (hamstring) was off to the AHL on a conditioning assignment, so Miller could see a few more days off shortly. Tomorrow’s game marks the start of a seven-game road trip for the Canucks.
But by the sounds of it, Saturday could be an emotional return for the 35-year-old, because Buffalo really was home.
“You really have to live there,” he told the Sun. “If you just drive into town, you’re not going to see what Buffalo offers. You have to get out and experience it and feel it. I enjoyed my time immensely.”
Flames GM: ‘averaging north of four goals against’ won’t cut it