August 13, 2010
Stunning Numbers is an occasional
look at stats
and figures from around the NHL.
In 2008-09, the Boston Bruins were second in the NHL with an average of 3.25 goals scored per game, second only to the Detroit Red Wings (3.47). They were as good offensively as they were defensively ... and they were pretty damn good defensively.
In 2009-10, those Bruins went into hibernation. Their goals per game plummeted in a post-Phil Kessel(notes) world to 2.34, worst in the League. Even under a trap-happy coach like Claude Julien, it was an embarrassing figure.
Like the Bruins, other team experienced some kicks to the gut in specific stat categories last season. The question is whether any of them did something to improve those areas. Here's a look at some of the problems and solutions (or lack there of) this summer for NHL teams.
The Issue: The Boston Bruins scored 196 goals last season, the only NHL team to score less than 200.
Was It Addressed? Yes. Nathan Horton(notes) makes this a much more dangerous offensive team, having scored 20-or-more goals in every season since the lockout and with the potential to top 30 goals. If money doesn't keep Tyler Seguin in the OHL, the No. 2 overall pick is also going to increase the team's scoring depth.
Factor in more complete seasons from injured stars Marc Savard(notes) (contract nullification be damned) and Milan Lucic(notes) (still looking to break 20 goals as a pro) and the Bruins should be out of the goal-scoring cellar, even with Marco Sturm's(notes) injury problems out of the gate.
If they don't? Well, we hear they have some lovely parting gifts for you, Mr. Julien ...
Was It Addressed? For the Maple Leafs, the addition of Kris Versteeg(notes) gives the Leafs a player with 11 points for the Chicago Blackhawks on the man advantage last season as a second-unit player (1:55 TOI). Plus, you figure a second-year player like Tyler Bozak(notes) will see better numbers on special teams, as could a wild card like Nazem Kadri(notes).
As for the Florida Panthers, they only saw 11 power-play points skate away with Horton to Boston this summer, but haven't made any significant moves for power-play performers (unless you're a Christopher Higgins(notes) mark). Maybe they don't need to: David Booth(notes) had 11 power-play goals in 72 games two seasons ago. Get the power forward back and healthy, and this unit should improve.
The Issue: The Tampa Bay Lightning have scored just six shorthanded goals in the last two seasons, worst in the NHL.
Was It Addressed? The Bolts' penalty killing wasn't terrible at 80.1 percent, but they had an inexplicable struggle in converting shorthanded chances.
OK, maybe not completely inexplicable: Coach Rick Tocchet was the constant there, and he's been canned in favor of Guy Boucher -- a coach whose AHL Hamilton Bulldogs scored 12 shorthanded goals last season.
From a personnel perspective, Simon Gagne(notes) posted 4 shorties and 4 shorthanded assists two years ago for the Philadelphia Flyers. Dominic Moore(notes) played on the kill last season for the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers, and tallied as many shorthanded goals (2) as the Lightning did all season. So yes, Tampa has addressed this issue, in a couple of fairly significant ways.
The Issue: The Edmonton Oilers led the NHL in giveaways last season with 1,055, the only team to have giveaways in the quadruple digits.
Was It Addressed? Possibly. Obviously, comparing teams is difficult due to the complete difference in personnel, but new head coach Tom Renney's New York Rangers teams were disciplined with the puck: 16th in giveaways in 2007-08 and 17th in 2006-07.
Of course, the real issue is that it's an arbitrary stat from arena to arena, but that's another column ...
The Issue: The Columbus Blue Jackets were 2-10 in shootouts last season. Which, by our math, isn't good.
Was It Addressed? Oh, totally, since the Blue Jackets were the most active team in ... wait, they didn't sign anyone else's unrestricted free agents? Whoops.
Bottom line: Rick Nash(notes) needs to be better than 5-for-12 and Kristian Hueselius needs to be better than 4-for-11 and it would be nice if Antoine Vermette(notes) could actually convert a shootout chance (0-for-4). Of course, it's hard to place the blame on the shooters when Steve Mason(notes) was 0-7 in shootouts (!), giving up 12 goals in 28 chances.
The X-Factor here: Nikita Filatov(notes), whose speed and creative offensive game would seem tailored for a skills competition. And yes, that's our way of saying he can't play defense (as least to Hitchcockian standards).