Devils, Oilers, Bruins among the most improved possession teams

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Using data from Puck On Net, here are the differences in score-adjusted Corsi from this season to last:

1. New Jersey +4.6
2. Edmonton +4.4
3. Boston +4.1
4. Colorado +3.7
5. Minnesota +3.2
6. Florida +2.7
7. Philadelphia +2.3
8. Washington +2.2
9. Carolina +1.5
10. San Jose +1.2
11. Columbus +1.2
12. Calgary +1.2
13. St. Louis +1.2
14. New York Rangers +1.1
15. Vancouver +1.1
16. Buffalo +0.9
17. Toronto +0.7
18. Ottawa -0.1
19. Montreal -0.2
20. Chicago -0.4
21. Arizona -1.9
22. Tampa Bay -2.3
23. Nashville -2.8
24. Pittsburgh -2.9
25. Winnipeg -3.6
26. Los Angeles -3.7
27. New York Islanders -3.8
28. Anaheim -5.2
29. Detroit -5.5
30. Dallas -5.6

Notes:

— We use score-adjusted Corsi because it has greater predictive power than simply looking at the standings. It’s not a perfect measure and doesn’t pretend to be. But generally speaking, teams that own the puck are going to be more successful than teams that don’t.

— The surprising New Jersey Devils are the most improved, and their record (9-5-3) reflects it. Ditto for the second-most improved team, the Edmonton Oilers (10-8-1), who have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The third-most improved team, the Boston Bruins (11-7-0), actually have the highest score-adjusted Corsi (54.0) in the NHL, and not many predicted that. Next on the list is Colorado (8-9-0), which still has a ways to go but seems to be making progress under new coach Jared Bednar. The fifth-most improved team, the Minnesota Wild (9-7-1), also has a new coach in Bruce Boudreau.

— At the bottom of the list is the Dallas Stars (7-7-5), who’ve had to deal with all sorts of injuries early on. But they also bid adieu to a couple of veteran defensemen, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski, so you have to wonder if that’s had an effect, too. The Detroit Red Wings (8-10-1) have had injuries, but losing Pavel Datsyuk to the KHL was always going to be a challenge. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3) don’t seem to be thriving under new/old coach Randy Carlyle, and the New York Islanders (5-8-4) have been one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams. As for the Los Angeles Kings (10-9-1), they’ve been hammered by injuries and remain one of the top possession teams, so for now we’ll give them a pass on their decline.

— It’s still quite early in the season, so teams have lots of time to improve. The Pittsburgh Penguins last season are the perfect example. They went from a score-adjusted Corsi of 49.9 in their first 41 games to 56.2 in their last 41 games. It took a new coach to do it, but still.

Click here to see how all 30 teams rank overall.

The top five
Boston — 54.0
Washington — 53.7
St. Louis — 53.3
Los Angeles — 53.0
San Jose — 53.0

The bottom five
Arizona — 44.6
NY Islanders — 45.7
Detroit — 46.2
Ottawa — 46.9
Dallas — 46.9

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.