This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.

 

If I told you in September…

  • that Milan Lucic and Matt Moulson would both have more goals on March 5th than Phil Kessel
  • that after a 15 month break Alexander Ovechkin would return to Twitter to post the picture of Phil Kessel sitting alone as the last player to be picked at the All-Star draft?
  • that only two players in the top 100 goal scorers, Radim Vrbata and David Booth , would have a lower shooting percentage than Alex Ovechkin
  • That of center Stamkos and winger Ovechkin, the latter would have more assists
  • Dany Heatley would be just one point ahead of Patrice Bergeron
  • the Washington Capitals would fall out of last years top spot for goal scoring all the way to the 2o’s, and go from 16th in goals against up to 7th
  • the NHL’s best penalty kill would belong to the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • the #7 offense would belong to a team, Tampa Bay, with only one short handed goal
  • the Colorado Avalanche who have allowed the most goals per game would have the second best Sv% in the shootout in the NHL
  • the Edmonton Oilers would own a better winning percentage when trailing after two periods than; the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins,  Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, and Calgary Flames all of which are in the top 8 in their conference as of today
  • that with Malkin out since 02/04 and Crosby out since 01/05 that the Penguins would not only still be in the playoffs, but still have home ice advantage for the first round
  • that for the first time since 2003-04 Joe Thornton would be less than a point per game player
  • of Los Angeles Kings defensemen; Rob Scuderi, Jack Johnson, Alec Martinex and Matt Greene that Scuderi would have the most game winning goals.
  • that despite having the third worst +/- in the NHL, the Florida Panthers would still be able to unload Denis Wideman on deadline day
  • former Bruins Phil Kessel and Denis Wideman would be a combined -45
  • Patrick Sharp would lead all players in goals against division opponents

would you have believed a single word?

 

While Savard is a nearly peerless playmaker who can make passes that only a handful of other men can, I’m not convinced his loss is fatal to the playoff hopes of the Bruins. In 25 games he was a -7 and put up just 10 points. Unlike last year or the year before he did not contribute to the penalty kill, and even with him the power play wasn’t stellar. That said, as of right now the Bruins still lead the northeast division, have a great PK, and a solid record against most of the other top teams in the east. They have won their last three against Carolina, have won against Washington, have a shutout over Philly, and have beaten the Penguins, the Lightning have been grounded, and Atlanta fell apart after their last meeting with the Bruins. It is true that the powerplay will become more of an issue in the playoffs, but even there we can look forward to some growth.

Potential replacements for the center position currently filled by Zach Hamill could be either a 1st line production center, of which their are very few, and fewer still on teams that would be willing to part with them. Or they could be a third line checking center. Bergeron can fill either of the two roles, and Krejci is best suited to being the secondary scoring line role.

For either position, given the deficiencies of the team and its playing system this center should have a few qualities:

  • At least 3 trips to the playoffs.
  • a faceoff percentage over 50%
  • the ability to play on both sides of the puck
  • drive to thrive

Some possible candidates are:

  • RJ Umberger, former Flyer, current Blue Jacket has seen action in the playoffs, on two different clubs.  Plays both center and left wing. Umberger is also a big body at 220 and would give the center position much needed size.
  • Brooks Laich, will be a UFA this summer, plays the PK, blocks shots, hits and has been a 20+ goal scorer three times.
  • Vladimir Sobotka, already familiar with the Bruins system, good at faceoffs, was important for the Bruins in the playoffs last year, is fearless and will be able to stand the media attention here in Boston.
  • While the least likely prospect, if the Penguins decide to pull the plug on the season with no time table for Crosby’s return, and Malkin due back about the same time as Savard, Jordan Staal would give the Penguins cap room, and probably get them either a roster player and a probably a 1st round pick and prospect in return. With this they could address their chronic weakness on wing, and their cap crunch.
  • Patrick Sharp, is probably on the team with the most ability to pull the plug on the season and not have a huge fan backlash. While he’s slightly below 50% in faceoffs, he’s got 51 games of playoff experience, a cup ring, 26 goals, and is on pace for a career points year despite the draw down in talent around him.
  • By the trade deadline, despite my preseason pick, the LA Kings could fall out of the race. In which case both Jared Stoll and Michael Handzus might serve the team better by serving someone else for a draft pick. Both are UFA’s either this summer or next and while neither is a number one center, they could fill the third line role admirably. Both have extensive playoff experience as well.

Of them all only Handzus has a no movement clause, Staal is probably a pure pipe dream or too expensive, and that leaves Umberger as likely being the easiest to get with the highest ceiling. I’d be kinda shocked to see anyone of these guys land here, but Chiarelli did say he’d be busy this trade season so all things are possible.

This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League

Teams:

  • If I told you in September that if the season ended at the quarter poll, that the Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Dallas Stars would all be in the playoffs….
  • If I told you in September that the bottom five New York Islanders would have an extended losing streak, fire their head coach with wide internal criticism, and then get worse…
  • If I told you in September that the Bruins would be without their top center, and one of their top goal scorers of the past three years and still be in 11th in goals for…
  • If I told you in September that the New Jersey Devils, would have less points than the Edmonton Oilers…
  • If I told you in September the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and Colorado Avalanche would all be on the outside looking into the playoff race…

…would you have asked me where you could get some of the fun drugs too?

Players:

  • If I told you in September that Ilya Kovalchuk would have less goals than Milan Lucic at any point this season…
  • If I told you in September Patrick Sharp would lead not just his team, but the entire Western Conference in goals, and be fourth in goals…
  • If I told you in September Steve Montador , and Rostislav Kleska (career -43) would be second and first in +/- for the league…
  • If I told you in September that between them Martin Brodeur, Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov, Henrik Lundquist, Roberto Loungo, Jaroslav Halak, and Thomas Vokoun would not own a single top five goalie stat between them…
  • If I told you in September Jeff Skinner, this years seventh overall draft pick would lead all rookies in scoring…
  • If I told you in September that Peter Schaefer would play more games in the NHL this year than Bill Guerin, Miroslav Satan, and Evgani Nabokov…

…would you ask me how many times I was dropped on my head as a child?