Hockey, like any sport, is a game of numbers. From milestones to missed opportunities to stellar performances when it counts the most. Here in the 2014-15 NHL playoffs, numbers and statistics are exactly what can help a team to a Cup or sink a franchise expected to achieve greatness.
Through the first week of the postseason, the league has seen one team falter in their pursuit of the holy grail (sorry Winnipeg) and one team – Anaheim – take a step closer to lifting the Stanley Cup. But, here at The Hockey Writers, we like to take a closer look at some of the numbers – significant or not – that play a role in tracking each and every franchise. With that, here’s a look at five statistics that you may have overlooked in the first week of the 2014-15 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For the city of Winnipeg, it was a long wait for playoff hockey. Yet, the fans of Jets nation rose to the occasion by reinventing the Winnipeg White Out. Considered one of the loudest building in the National Hockey League, the MTS Centre rarely sat down as they cheered on their beloved Jets.
But, after fighting their way into the postseason, their playoffs lasted a mere four games as they took on the best in the Western Conference – the Anaheim Ducks. While the Jets were swept in their first-round series, it was clear that the fans in Winnipeg are back for good and will be looking forward to a new season and another chance in 2015-16.
Evgeni Malkin. Sidney Crosby. David Perron. Chris Kunitz. Those four names combined for 235 points (90g-145a) during the regular season. That’s an average of 0.78 points per game in their combined 301 regular season games in 2014-15.
Now, in four playoff games the Pittsburgh Penguins have notched just seven goals against the New York Rangers and are down 3-1 in the Metropolitan match-up. These four players have combined for just seven points (3g-4a) in those four games, including Malkin being held pointless and Perron registering just one assists for Pittsburgh.
The first round is far from over for some teams, but leading the way through the first week is Corey Perry (tied for points with Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk). Through his teams first four games, which resulted in a sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, number ten on the Ducks has scored seven points (3g-4a) on his way to helping his club into the second round.
Perry also seemed to get under the skin of Jets big man Dustin Byfuglien taking his attention away from the on-ice action and forcing him to take some undisciplined penalties. If the Ducks are likely to make a push for the Cup, Perry will have to continue this torrid pace.
The Ottawa Senators are down 3-1 in their all-Canadian series with the Montreal Canadiens through the first week. But hidden in their efforts to regain some composure in this gritty series is the way that Craig Anderson has reentered the Sens net with a goal – to give his team every opportunity possible.
With that, the Senators goaltender has posted a 0.93 goals against average (and a .974 save percentage) and he’s stood on his head in the two games he’s started. He leads the playoffs in both categories and could be the motivation the Senators need to make this a series again.
Two Hundred and Sixty-Five
To say rivalry is alive and well is an understatement. If you need proof, just take a look the first-round playoff series taking place in the western part of Canada. Oh yes, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks have not shown any love towards each other in their four games so far.
In fact, through their first four games – in which the Flames hold a 3-1 series lead – the two teams have combined for 265 penalty minutes. That’s just over 33 minutes each per game. That includes fifteen misconducts and eleven fighting majors over just four games.
For more, follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or his THW column at @Tape2TapeTHW.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.