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 right now.
Roman Josi going for 100 points
There might not be a hotter player in the NHL right now than Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi. He has turned the Norris Trophy race into a two-horse race with Colorado Avalanche defender Cale Makar (more on him in a minute) and is having one of the all-time great offensive seasons for a defenseman.
After recording an assist in Nashville’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, Josi now has 26 points in 12 games during the month of March. Going back to the start of January he has 50 points in 33 games. As a defenseman.
For the season, his 79 points in 63 games place him seventh in the NHL scoring race (among all players) and have him on a 100-point pace for the season. His current rate of 1.25 points per game would be 102 points over an 82-game season, and exactly 100 points in 80 games (Josi missed two games this season).
Why is that significant? In the history of the league only five different defenders have hit the 100-point mark in a single season. Bobby Orr did it six times, Paul Coffey did it five times, while Al MacInnis, Denis Potvin, and Brian Leetch each reached it one time. Nobody has hit that mark since Leetch during the 1991-92 season. Leetch and Macinnis are the only two players that reached it after the 1980s. So it is rare. Almost unheard of.
Even 90 points for a defenseman has been a nearly impossible mark to reach. Ray Bourque, with 91 points during the 1993-94 season (in only 72 games) was the most recent defender to eclipse that mark. Only eight different defenders have hit 90 points in a single season (Orr, Coffey, Leetch, MacInnis, Potvin, Bourque, Phil Housley, and Gary Suter).
Barring injury, Josi seems like a lock to at least reach that mark, needing only 11 points in Nashville’s remaining 19 games.
Even more important for Nashville is that his season is not just about stacking points. He has been an impactful defender in every possible way.
Roman Josi: 25 points in 11 games since March 1st – leads the NHL. Having another Norris-caliber season. pic.twitter.com/kcqVFL0eYB
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) March 24, 2022
All season it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that Makar would win the Norris Trophy, but Josi is right there looking for the second of his career. His season, combined with the monster years for Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Juuse Saros has the Predators in a comfortable playoff spot.
Cale Makar going for 30 goals
While Josi is chasing the century mark, Makar is going after another pretty significant mark for a defender in his quest for 30 goals.
Entering play on Friday he has 22 goals in 60 games this season, a pace that gives him a real shot. That currently projects out to 28 goals in 78 games (Makar has missed four Avalanche games this season) which would still be an extremely rare number.
Only two defenders have topped 28 goals since 1992-93, with Brent Burns scoring 29 during the 2016-17 season and Mike Green scoring 31 goals (in only 68 games!) for the Washington Capitals during the 2008-09 season.
The 30-goal mark is almost as rare as the 100-point mark for a defender as only eight different players have reached it (Orr, Coffey, Bourque, Potvin, Housley, Green, Kevin Hatcher, and Doug Wilson).
Like Josi, Makar’s impact goes far beyond just his box score numbers and either one of them would be a very worthy Norris winner.
No matter which one it ends up being it does seem like it is going to be one of them, as no other defender really comes close to matching either of their impacts this season.
Other Random Stunning Numbers
• With 46 goals in 58 games Auston Matthews is not only leading the league, that would be a 65-goal pace over 82 games. It is one of the best goal scoring seasons of the modern ear.
• Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both on pace for more than 110 points this season. The last time a team had two players top the 110-point mark in the same season? The 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins (who actually had three with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Ron Francis) and the 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche (Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg). The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins and 1992-93 Buffalo Sabres were the two teams prior to that.
• New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin has a .936 save percentage this season, a significant lead over the next closest goalie (Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom at .927). How significant is that lead? If Shesterkin allowed a goal on each of his next 10 shots that he faces his save percentage would still be .928 for the season, and still in the league lead.
• Speaking of Markstrom, he has nine shutouts in 49 starts this season. Only two goalies (New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin with six in 42 starts, and Colorado Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper with five in 45 starts) have five or more.
• The Florida Panthers are still averaging 4.06 goals per game this season. If they maintain that average they would be the first team since the 1995-95 Penguins (4.41 goals per game) to average more than four goals per game in an 82-game season.