During the 2020-21 NHL season we will take an occasional look at some stunning numbers from around the league. Here is what has stood out to us so far…
McDavid and Draisaitl and their chance at 100 points
It seems crazy to even seriously discuss. It should not be a realistic option. It goes against all logical and thought to think that an NHL player, in today’s game, could possibly reach 100 points in 56 games.
It is the type of thing that should have only happened in the 1980s or early 1990s with Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.
But here we are.
After their complete offensive bludgeoning of the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night, the Edmonton duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl find themselves at the top of the NHL scoring race by a fairly substantial margin. Draisaitl is seven points ahead of the league’s third-leader scoring (Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner), while McDavid is eight points ahead.
With 22 points in 11 games, McDavid is currently on a 112-point over a 56-game season. Draisaitl, with 21 in 11 games, is on a 107-point pace.
The obvious response here is that they are not going to maintain those numbers over the remainder of the season. That is an accurate statement. These two are great, but nobody is that great. But here is the important thing to keep in mind: They do not need to maintain that exact pace the rest of the way to do it. Those points are already on the board. Their goal the rest of the way is considerably lower than that two point per game average.
What they need
McDavid needs 78 points in 45 games (1.73 per game) the rest of the way to hit 100 points. Draisaitl would need 79 (a 1.75 pace) points.
That seems like a lot, and it is. But is it unreachable? For 99.9% of the league, almost certainly. But for these two? It might not be.
The most productive 45-game stretch of McDavid’s career came mid-way through the 2018-19 season when he put 76 points on the board between Dec. 5, 2018 and March 26, 2019. At multiple points over the past two seasons he had topped 70 points over various 45-game stretches.
In other words, it is possible.
Draisaitl’s best 45-game stretch is 70 points midway through in the 2019-20 season. So while he has never had a stretch quite as good as McDavid’s best, he is still not far off.
There is one other wild card in this discussion worth keeping in mind. By playing all of their games this season in the North Division the Oilers have still 23 games remaining against the Senators, Jets, and Canucks, three of the worst defensive teams in the league. That includes eight more games against the Ottawa team they saw on Sunday night. There is definitely a chance to pad some numbers here, and it might at least keep this race interesting.
Other stunning numbers from around the NHL…
If you go back to the start of the 2019-20 season they are 2-32-4 in such games.
• The Penguins have already used 11 different defensemen this season in only nine games.
The only used 10 in 69 games a year ago. They used 11 in a full 82-game season in 2018-19. You have to back to the 2016-17 season to find the last time they used more than 11 in a full season.
Colorado has also used 11 different defensemen this season. The Penguins and Avalanche are the only two NHL teams that have already used more than 10 players at the position.
• The Capitals did not have Alex Ovechkin or Evgeny Kuznetov in their lineup for the four game between Jan. 20 and Jan. 29 (Kuznetsov remains out).
Those two are major parts of the Capitals’ power play.
That power play converted on 55% of its chances (five out of nine) in the four games without them. For the season it is at 44.4%.
• The Predators have spent only 37 minutes this season playing with the lead, lowest total in the NHL. Despite that, they have won four of their first eight games.
The Penguins have only spent 50 minutes this season playing with the lead, second lowest total in the NHL (ahead of only Nashville). They have spent 276 minutes trailing, the second highest total in the league (behind only Ottawa). Despite that, they are still 5-3-1 in their first nine games.
The Ducks have spent more than 200 minutes this season with the lead, and only 179 minutes trailing. Despite that, they have won just three of their first 10 games.