What if we took one-goal games out of the equation?


If you don’t subscribe to the theory– and never will, no matter how much the stats geeks annoyingly insist you should — that the best way to judge a team is its record in games that aren’t decided by one goal, this post probably isn’t for you.

However, if you’re open to the idea that a team’s record in one-goal games is somewhat dependent on luck and, therefore, has the potential to distort things, then read on.

Here are the records of all 30 NHL teams in games that have been decided by two or more goals, sorted by most wins to least:

Montreal Canadiens: 15-2
Dallas Stars: 13-4
Washington Capitals: 11-3
New York Rangers: 11-4
Boston Bruins: 9-6
Winnipeg Jets: 9-11
New York Islanders: 9-5
San Jose Sharks: 8-8
St. Louis Blues: 7-6
Ottawa Senators: 7-6
Chicago Blackhawks: 7-5
Colorado Avalanche: 7-7
Anaheim Ducks: 7-8
Los Angeles Kings: 6-4
Arizona Coyotes: 6-8
Nashville Predators: 6-6
Vancouver Canucks: 6-4
Columbus Blue Jackets: 5-12
Florida Panthers: 5-6
Tampa Bay Lightning: 5-6
Buffalo Sabres: 5-6
Toronto Maple Leafs: 5-9
Detroit Red Wings: 4-7
Pittsburgh Penguins: 4-5
New Jersey Devils: 4-6
Philadelphia Flyers: 4-9
Edmonton Oilers: 4-9
Minnesota Wild: 3-3
Carolina Hurricanes: 3-9
Calgary Flames: 1-12

Now, for purposes of identifying teams that maybe (promise not to freak out, OK?) aren’t as good as their overall records suggest, the ones that stick out are Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The first three are currently in a playoff spot, while the Devils are just barely out of one. All four have, obviously, been excellent in one-goal games, but they haven’t exactly been running roughshod over the league.

On the flip-side, you look at a team like the Canucks and wonder what they did to anger the hockey gods. (Besides just being the Canucks, which has historically angered the hockey gods, not to mention everyone else.) After 27 games, Vancouver is a league-worst 3-6-8 in one-goal games. Last year, the Canucks went 22-4-5 in one-goal games. Sure, the roster is a bit different, but it’s not that different.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have to delve deeper into each team’s situation before drawing any conclusions. Take the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk missed the first 15 games, and he’s quite good, so I’m gonna need a bit more time with him in the lineup before I pass any judgment. But for the record, even they admit they’re pushing it with all these overtime games.

For me, the most interesting team might be Winnipeg. The Jets have only been involved in six one-goal decisions all season. They’ve won by scores like 6-2 and 6-1, yet they’ve lost by scores of 5-1 and 7-0. Bit of a consistency issue there.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is basically the opposite of the Jets. All the Wild seem to do is play close games. On the one hand, they don’t blow teams out very often. But on the other, almost every single game they’ve given themselves a chance to get a point or two.

So, is it better to be like the Jets or the Wild? What a good, nerdy debate!

In conclusion, I didn’t write this post because I hate the Red Wings or Wild or Penguins or Devils or Jets. That’s just not the case. At the end of the day, I hate all teams equally. Especially the Rangers.