During the 2019-20 NHL season we will take an occasional look at some stunning numbers from around the league. Today we focus on the Detroit Red Wings as well as the 17-game point streak for Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.
Detroit Red Wings historically bad start
We begin this edition of stunning numbers by taking a look at what has been a historically bad start, and one that has them on track for one of the worst seasons in the history of the proud franchise.
Nine wins in 36 games
The Red Wings enter play on Friday with just nine wins through their first 36 games, the second-lowest mark in franchise history behind only a three-way tie between the 1978-79, 1982-83, and 1985-86 teams, all of which had only eight wins through the same point in the season. When you consider that one of the Red Wings’ wins this season came in 3-on-3 overtime — something the late 70s and early 80s teams did not get to play in — it’s almost enough to lump them all in together.
Looking at things in a more present-day context, the nine wins through 36 games are the second-lowest total for any team over the past 10 years, ahead of only the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres and 2017-18 Arizona Coyotes (seven wins each).
They are currently on pace for 20 wins this season. The lowest win total for a team over the past 10 years (excluding the lockout 2012-13 season) is 21 wins by the 2013-14 Buffalo Sabres. That would be the team’s lowest win total since winning just 17 game during the 1985-86 season.
The minus-62 goal differential
Entering play on Friday the Red Wings have already been outscored by 62 goals this season. That is the lowest number for an NHL team through 36 games since the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators (first-year expansion team) had a minus-89 mark.
It is the second-worst mark in Red Wings history, ahead of only the 1985-86 Red Wings (minus-73).
They are currently on pace to finish with a minus-143 mark for the season. If they do that it will be tied for the 14th worst mark in NHL history with the 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers (first-year expansion team).
A year ago the worst goal differential in the NHL for the entire season was only minus-61 (Los Angeles Kings).
Basically, the 2019-20 Red Wings are competing at the same level as a bad first-year expansion franchise.
Jack Eichel’s 17-game point streak
In the eyes of the NHL — at least for record-keeping purposes — Eichel’s point streak officially came to an end on Thursday night when he sat out the Buffalo Sabres’ 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with an upper-body injury.
If that seems unfair, well, it kind of is. Especially if Eichel returns to the lineup and keeps piling up points in more games.
But with the streak officially “over” it is worth celebrating what he did over the past month for the Sabres.
Since the start of the streak on Nov. 16…
He is the NHL’s leading goal-scorer (16), leading point producer (31), is a league-best plus-17, has the most even-strength points (24), is tied with the fifth-most shots on goal (67), and has the second-most game-winning goals (3).
Eichel recorded multiple points in nine of the 17 games, including four three-point games and one four-point game.
Of his 31 points, 23 of them are “primary” points, meaning he actually scores the goal or has the first assist. The only other Sabres player with more than 10 primary points during that stretch is Victor Olofsson, one of Eichel’s linemates.
He scored or assisted on 54 percent of the team’s goals during the 17 games. Eichel was on the ice for 71 percent of the team’s goals.
The team had a 24-10 goal differential and controlled more than 52 percent of the total shot attempts when he was on the ice during 5-on-5 play. When he is off the ice the Sabres are being outscored 15-23 and control just 50 percent of the total shot attempts.
Even when you go beyond the streak, Eichel is once again one of the league’s most productive players and playing at an MVP level. He is the biggest reason the team is still hanging around in the Atlantic Division playoff race.