The Columbus Blue Jackets are on track to win the Stanley Cup. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are the best of friends. Trevor Gillies leads the league in power play points and Rick DiPietro made his 75th consecutive start for the New York Islanders… Ok, this is a little FAR FETCHED, but there have been quite a few wacky and unusual stats and happenings this season that you don’t see every year. The following are a few examples of things out of the ordinary so far this season.
- All-star Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals was listed as a healthy scratch on Monday night for the first time since his rookie season in 2003-2004. For Semin, the last seven games were anything but innocent as he drew 16 penalty minutes in just 7 games. Given that the Capitals have the 24th worst Penalty Kill in the league, Bruce Boudreau sat Semin in hopes to get his team back into gear, without the burden of unnecessary penalties.
- The Carolina Hurricanes captain, Eric Staal, has been anything but productive in his first 21 games this season. With a -15 rating, he currently holds the worst plus/minus rating in the NHL. Not to mention, the 27-year-old has tallied just one goal in 15 games, and 4 goals in 21 games. This is very Unlikely for a guy who hoisted a Stanley Cup and won an Olympic Gold Medal 2010.
- Phil Kessel is off to the best start of his career, tallying 16 goals and 13 assists in just 21 games (16-13-29). He is the league leader in both goals and points, which makes this the best start a Maple Leaf has seen in over 13 years.
- When Sidney Crosby went down with a concussion on January 1st at last season’s winter classic, it seems as if he brought Alex Ovechkin’s talent with him. “Alexander the Great” is slowly fading into what I like to call an “average” hockey player. His ice-time has dropped 4 minutes from his average time, which puts him at 18 minutes and 46 seconds opposed to his usual 23 a night. Something else we’re not use to seeing from the Russian captain is his lack of scoring. Washington’s former star-forward isn’t even among the top 50 for points, or the top 40 for goals. Also, earlier this season, Ovechkin was benched for the very first time in his NHL career for not impressing Bruce Boudreau throughout their matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
- Monday night was a night that will go down in Pittsburgh history for Sidney Crosby and his Penguins. I DON’T mean because Sidney Crosby made his comeback after missing 320 days and already tallied 4 points in his first game back. But the game on November 21st marked just the 3rd time in 103 games that the three famous centers, Sidney Crosby, (concussion) Evgeni Malkin (knee injury) and Jordan Staal (ankle injury) all played together.
- If someone told you in the beginning of the year that recent backup goalies Nikolai Khabibulin, Josh Harding, Mike Smith and Brian Elliot would be amongst the top goaltending within the first month and a half of the season, would you believe them? Probably not. Well believe it now because Khabibulin (.936), Elliot (.947), Harding (.945), and Smith (.936) are all amongst the top 5 for the best save percentage in the NHL. If you can remember last season, Khabibulin and Brian Elliot had the lowest percentages in the league. Along with the best save percentage, Elliot has a top 3 impressive 1.43 GAA as well as Josh Harding’s 1.79 GAA.
- Along with other teams in the west who have came out surprisingly strong (Edmonton Oilers) there is another team staying strong and battling their way to a comfortable top spot. Even with a few nights off, the Minnesota Wild take hold of the number one spot in the Western Conference. They sit 3 points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers in the Northwest division and stand even with the Chicago Blackhawks in the whole conference.
WHAT? The Florida Panthers?
- When thinking about NHL Stats that you don’t see every year, the Florida Panthers are the first team that comes to mind. As of Monday night, the Cat were in 2nd place in the entire Eastern Conference, first place in the Southeast division (one game up from the Washington Capitals) and tied for 4th amongst the whole NHL. I don’t care that it’s only been 20 games into the season. I don’t care about the teams past. All I know is, they’re up in a position that this team has never seen before, and it all begins with the players. Here are a couple that have amazed the world of hockey thus far….
- Pavel Bure, Olli Jokinen? Step aside boys, the newest Florida Panther is in town, and on pace to steal all your records. After Monday night’s burn to the New Jersey Devil’s, Kris Versteeg took hold of an incredible mark in Florida Panther history. With 11 goals and 25 points in just 20 games, Versteeg surpassed the Russian Rocket and the favored finish captain for the best start a player has had, in franchise history. Not to mention, the Canadian right-winger is tied for 3rd in the league in points, and tied for fourth in the league in goals.
- It must seem hard to believe that a Florida Panther defenseman has surpassed the Detroit Red Wings legendary icon, Nicklas Lidstrom. But yet another Panther player has proven the world wrong as Jason Garrison tallies 7 goals, (one more than Lidstrom), in just 20 games. This number of goals is two more than he put up in all 78 games he took part in last year. Due to his wicked slap shot from the blue-line and skill on the power play, this late bloomer is on pace to become quite the notable defenseman in the NHL.
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