We are two weeks into the NHL season, so let’s look at some stats that have caught my eye.
— Alex Ovechkin has eight goals in his first seven games, but that isn’t the best start of his NHL career. In October of 2017 he scored nine goals in his first seven games, including seven in the first two games. He finished with 49 goals that season. Ovechkin needs four goals to pass Brett Hull *(731 goals) for 4th all time. He needs 29 goals to pass Jaromir Jagr (766) for third place. He should finish this season third all time in goals and then he will only trail Mr. Hockey (Gordie Howe) and the Great One (Wayne Gretzky). Amazing.
— Last year Connor McDavid had the 25th most points in NHL history after 50 games. He had 91. Oilers radio analyst Rob Brown had 90 points in 50 games in 1988/1989 with the Penguins. Pretty good company for Rob. McDavid has 15 points in seven games this season and is on pace for 107 in 50 games. If the does that he’d be 9th all time trailing only Gretzky (152, 143, 133, 132, 124, 123) and Mario Lemieux (137, 110). It is ridiculous what McDavid is doing right now.
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— McDavid keeps climbing the ranks of most consecutive multi-point games to start a season. He is tied for 6th longest at six games. If he scores two points tomorrow in Vancouver he will tie Auston Matthews (2018), Mike Bossy (1984) and Wayne Gretzky (1983) for third at seven straight.
Kevin Stevens (8) is second and Lemieux (12) is first. They were teammates with the Penguins in October of 1992 when Lemieux set the NHL record.
— Many had Cole Caufield as their Calder trophy winner at the start of the season. The Montreal forward has one assist in eight games. While the 15th pick in 2019 is off to a slow start, the 4th overall pick in 2020, Lucas Raymond, is flying in Detroit with 4-4-8 in seven games. Teammate Moritz Seider is second in rookie scoring with six points.
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Can you name the past rookie teammates who finished 1st and 2nd in rookie scoring? *Answer at bottom of article.**
— The Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks are winless in seven games. The 1943/1944 New York Rangers hold the NHL record with longest winless streak to start at season at 15 games (0-14-1). If Chicago loses their next game they will tie their franchise record at eight games (1999/2000 and 1953/1954). Arizona’s record is 11 set in 2017/2018 when they went 0-10-1. That is the second longest in NHL history.
—Vegas is still 0% on the power play. They have no goals in 15 chances. They’ve had 28:00 of PP time. The Edmonton Oilers have had 26:34 of PP time and have nine goals. They have the NHL’s best PP at 42.9%. Last year the Anaheim Ducks set the NHL record for worst PP% in NHL history at 8.9%. They scored 11 goals in 56 games. Vegas couldn’t be worse…could they?
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— Chicago has been outscored 24-6 at 5×5 so far. The fewest goals any team has scored at 5×5 (prorated to 82 game season) in the past decade was 96 by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013/2014. Not only do the Hawks struggle scoring, but they are leaking goals at a ridiculous rate. They are on pace to allow 281 goals at 5×5. The most allowed in the past decade was in 219 by the 2019 Ottawa Senators. Chicago’s defensive system is awful.
— Mitch Marner (24 shots) and Kirill Kaprizov (23) have the most shots among forwards without a goal thus far. Marner only has two assists in eight games, while Kaprizov has six helpers in seven games.
— Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) and Kailer Yamamoto (10) lead Oilers forwards in shots without a goal. However, RNH has nine assists while Yamamoto has no points. Big difference. RNH’s nine points are the most in his career through the first six games of a season. His previous best was 2-5-7 in 2018.
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— Philadelphia defender Ivan Provorov has played the most minutes at 5×5 (104:49) without being on the ice for a goal against. He is 6-0 thus far. Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau has skated 102:22 and is also 6-0 in GF-GA. Gaudreau is 8th in NHL scoring with 1-9-10 in seven games and has played very well for the Pacific leading Flames. He will be a UFA at the end of the season, if he doesn’t re-sign before June 30th.
— Surprisingly, Cale Makar has been on the ice for the most goals against (12) at 5×5, followed by Jake Muzzin and Jamie Drysdale (11) and Justin Holl and Jacob Chychrun (10). They are all getting outscored badly: Makar (4-12), Drysdale (2-11), Muzzin (3-11) and Chychrun (0-10). I’d expect Makar to turn this around. As a rookie in 921 minutes he had a 57-36 GF-GA and last season in 802 minutes he was 49-30. The fact he is 4-12 in only 123 minutes is one of the biggest early-season surprises.
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— Pierre-Luc Dubois has looked much more comfortable with the Jets this season. He has five goals in 103 minutes at 5×5. He tallied five goals in 529 minutes at 5×5 last season. He was one of the front runners to be a bounce back player and early on he’s delivered. You probably got him as a solid value pick on your fantasy hockey team.
— But if they handed out the comeback-player award now it would have to go to 40-year-old Craig Anderson. He was essentially retired, but then Buffalo signed him to a one-year contract at league minimum ($750K) on July 28th. Anderson is 4-1 with a .939Sv% and 1.98 GAA for the surprising Sabres. Most believe the Sabres’ (5-1-1) hot start won’t last, but early on Anderson is the best story in the NHL.
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— For those who play fantasy hockey: Currently 35 players have eight or more points, but Alex Killorn is the only one without a power play point. All nine of his points have come even strength. He is tied with Gaudreau and Kyle Connor for league-lead in EV points.
—McDavid leads the NHL in shots/game with 5.00. He averaged 3.57 last year (previous career high). He has worked on his improving his shot the past two off-seasons and said he wanted to shoot more. Early on he is doing exactly that, and it’s no surprise he is scoring more with seven goals in six games. He leads the NHL in power play goals (4) and power play points (8). He scored 41 goals in 2018 and 2019. He had five and nine PP goals those years. His career high of nine power play goals currently ranks 77th all time on the Oilers. It is one of the rare places he’s yet to dominate, but it looks like that is changing. He could challenge Gretzky and Ryan Smyth’s franchise record of 20 PP goals in a season.
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— Brandon Tanev is loving life in Seattle. He has six goals in eight games. His career-high is 14 when he had 127 shots. He already has 18 shots (prorates to 180 in a full season). The interesting part is he isn’t getting more ice time in Seattle than he did in Pittsburgh or Winnipeg. He is just getting more pucks on goals. He averaged 14:07/game, 14:45 and 14:26 between 2019-2021. He is at 14:27 this season. His SH% is much higher, but so is his shot volume.
— There are 28 forwards averaging 20+ minutes/game (minimum three GP). Marner, Nugent-Hopkins and Connor Brown are the only ones without a goal. Which of these three will be the last to score a goal?
— Keith Yandle has now played 928 consecutive games while Phil Kessel is up to 907. Yandle is 2nd all-time, and needs 37 games to pass Doug Jarvis (964), while Kessel is 5th. He is poised to pass Patrick Marleau (910) and Garry Unger (914) in the next few weeks and he too could pass Jarvis this season. Pretty incredible accomplishment for both players.
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— Yes it is early, but could the Battle of Alberta be back? The Oilers and Flames haven’t finished 1st and 2nd in the division in the same season since 1990. They haven’t met in the playoffs since 1991, when Edmonton won in seven games. Since 1991, both teams have made the playoffs at the same time in 2006, 2017 and 2020, but either only one or neither won a playoff round those seasons. It would be great for the province if the Oilers and Flames battled all season for the Pacific division title. It is long overdue.
**Trivia answer. Dany Heatley (67 points) and Ilya Kovalchuk (51) in 2002 with the Atlanta Thrashers were the last rookie teammates to finish 1st and 2nd in rookie scoring. Since the NHL expanded to 21 teams in 1979/1980 it happened three others times as well: Brian Leetch (71) and Tony Granato (63) with the Rangers in 1989, Luc Robitaille (84) and Jimmy Carson (79) with the LA Kings in 1987 and brothers Peter (109) and Anton Stastny (85) with the Quebec Nordiques in 1982.
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