Stunning Numbers: Jake Guentzel’s start; impressive offensive numbers

nhl jake guentzel
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During the 2021-22 NHL season we will take an occasional look at some stunning numbers from around the league. Here is what is standing out to us as the NHL enters the All-Star break this weekend. 

Give Jake Guentzel more attention

Jake Guentzel is heading to the 2022 NHL All-Star game in Vegas for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he is very worthy of that honor. Along with being the team’s top goal scorer and point producer, he has developed into one of the best pure goal scorers in the league over the past four seasons. Just about the only thing that has held him back is shortened seasons and the occasional injury. Since the start of the 2018-19 season Guentzel has averaged a 40-goal pace per 82 games and is one of the game’s top producing wingers.

Even more impressive is this stat in the context of his 2013 draft class.

Pretty good draft class, and pretty impressive start to Guentzel’s career.

The counter point here will be that Guentzel spends so much time playing next to Sidney Crosby, and how much of an impact that has. It does have an impact. But there have been a lot of wingers over the years that have played next to Crosby for significant periods of time and never come close to scoring goals and producing points the way Guentzel has. He is an outstanding player on his own merits.

The four goals per game club

The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers both enter the All-Star break averaging more than four goals per game this season. They have the best offenses in the league, and they are both capable of completely embarrassing teams in any given game.

What is so significant about the four goal per game number?

No NHL team has averaged more than four goals per game over a full season since the 1995-96 season when the Penguins averaged 4.41 per game.

Since then, no team has averaged more than 3.90 goals per game.

The closest anybody has come since then was the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning (3.89), 2009-10 Washington Capitals (3.82) and the 2005-06 Ottawa Senators (3.80).

Big individual game team performances

Some more stunning offensive numbers from the first half include….

• The Panthers eclipsing the 50-shot mark four times in the first half, while the Calgary Flames reached it two different times, including a 62-shot effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets. There have only been 11 50-shot games across the entire league. Those two teams have accounted for six of them. Nobody else has more than one such game.

• Florida also owns NHL’s only two nine-goal game performances this season, and three of the league’s 10 eight-goal performances.

• The Avalanche have scored seven goals a league-high seven times.

Big individual player numbers

• The New York Rangers are 22-5-2 when Igor Shesterkin is the goalie of record. They are 8-8-2 when he is not. Since his NHL debut they are 48-21-5 in his games, and only 46-43-10 in games started by other goalies. He is a one-man game-changer.

• The Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau duo in Calgary has outscored teams by a 40-10 margin when they are on the ice during 5-on-5 play this season.

• There are currently 43 players (minimum 25 games played) averaging more than a point per game this season. They were only 22 players to reach that mark a year ago, only 22 during the 2019-20 season, and 32 during the 2018-19 season.

• Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry has already obliterated his previous career highs offensively, with 25 goals and 41 total points in 43 games. Before this season he never had more than seven goals and 20 total points in a single season, and had just 15 goals and 47 total points in his entire career.

Chris Kreider is the NHL’s leading goal scorer at the all-star break with 33 goals. His previous career high before this season: 28 goals in two different seasons. He is currently on pace for 58 goals over an 82-game season.

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    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    caufield surgery
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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.