Here’s a sign that it’s very early in an NHL season: two defensemen are among the league’s scoring leaders, and their names aren’t Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson.
Nope, instead, there are five players tied for first in the league with eight points before Friday’s games kick off: Alex Ovechkin, Alex Pietrangelo, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ryan Hartman, and Mike Green. Pietrangelo and Hartman have played five games while Green and the Ovechkin – Kuznetsov combo have been on a roll for four.
Kuznetsov and Green both subsist off assists with eight, while Ovechkin’s mind-blowing sniping gives him eight goals and zero helpers through a week-plus.
Yep, pretty weird stuff.
Consider this a little time capsule of trends that (cough) might not last through the entire 2017-18 season. Not that it wouldn’t be fun for Green to finish with 164 assists and Ovechkin to hit 164 goals, mind you.
That would call for an HBO 24/7-inspired joy ride reunion, eh?
Um, anyway …
While the season is young, we’re also at the point where fans are starting to get impatient with struggling stars/important players. Let’s take a look at some guys with high shooting volume and no goals to show for it.
Morgan Rielly and Jonathan Drouin: 17 SOG apiece in four games, zero goals.
Rick Nash and Charles Hudon: 16 SOG in four GP, zero goals.
Jakob Silfverberg and Duncan Keith: 15 SOG, zero goals.
Taylor Hall: 14 SOG, zero goals.
Poor Rick Nash. Considering his crazy-low career playoff shooting percentage numbers, he might be worthy of induction into an imaginary Hall of Fame for bad bounces.
Anyway, it’s one thing for defensemen to have low shooting percentage numbers; Rielly and Keith could both enjoy fine seasons, even if they continue to shoot at a low clip (though zero percent would, naturally, be infuriating). Those forwards, on the other hand, should start getting some breaks.
Drouin must be especially steamed, as he’s likely dying to score his first goal in a Montreal Canadiens uniform, what with the big trade and big extension. If you need further evidence that the Habs are better than their scoring stats would indicate, consider that promising forward Hudon is similarly stalled despite firing four SOG per game.
(It’s still confounding that the Vegas Golden Knights balked on Hudon. But that’s the NHL.)
Whoa, Brandon Saad and James Neal both already have three game-winning goals. Last season, Rickard Rakell was the only guy in double digits with 10, so Neal and Saad afforded themselves two tremendous head-starts.
(They have a solid chance of sticking at the top of those rankings if they stay healthy.)
Fun with goalies
These goalies are likely to see plenty of time, even as backups, so three perfect save percentages might not last very long: Laurent Brossoit (on 19 saves) along with Aaron Dell and Anton Khudobin (nine apiece).
As far as goalies who’ve seen more than relief duty, here are three who should settle down a bit, even if they’re in position to possibly have strong seasons:
Sergei Bobrovsky – .985 save percentage in two games
Marc-Andre Fleury – Remarkable .963 in 3GP
Corey Crawford – .956, and he’s done it in four. (Jimmy Howard’s right behind him with .955 in three.)
Conversely, here are four goalies who seem quite likely to rise above the 90 percent mark as the season goes along:
Frederik Andersen – .871 save percentage in 4GP
Matt Murray – .885 save percentage in 4GP
Carey Price – .889 save percentage in 4GP
And, special mention, Steve Mason – .831 save percentage in 2GP, and a 6.56(!) GAA.
Lightning round: team stats
- The Ottawa Senators currently have a perfect penalty kill.
- The Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs have converted on a third of their power-play opportunities.
- The Colorado Avalanche are doing well despite only winning 41.5 percent of their draws.
- The Washington Capitals are connecting on 17.65 percent of their shots. The Montreal Canadiens’ team shooting percentage is under two percent.
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