The NHL regular season is always difficult to predict. Each season brings with it a unique set of surprises and disappointments that no one can ever fully anticipate. This season has continued that legacy with one of the most volatile starts to a season in memory; contenders have become lottery teams and a new generation of stars has overtaken the old guard. With this in mind, take a look at some of the most perplexing stats in the NHL so far this fall.
2 goals, 4.4% shooting percentage
This is not the kind of production that Hossa fans have been used to seeing since the Slovakian winger entered the NHL back in 1998. Jonathan Toews’ wing-man has scored fewer than 20 goals just once since 1999 (during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign) so the fact that he’s struggled so mightily to start the season has come as a huge surprise. Among the most consistent players the NHL has ever seen, Hossa has still managed to snap 45 shots on goal in his 15 games, putting him on pace to match his shot total from his 22-goal season in 2014-15. His 4.4% shooting percentage and positive possession numbers suggest that this slump is only temporary, but it’s still been hard for Hawks fans to see #81 frustrated with his inability to score recently.
51.8 CF% at 5v5, compared to 48.5% last season
The Canadiens are somewhat notorious for being a poor puck possession team that gets bailed out by Carey Price in net on a nightly basis. But with Price hobbled by a lower-body injury to start the season, Montreal’s possession metrics have begun to swing upwards. Instead of being outshot and out-chanced by the opposition on a nightly basis, it’s now the Canadiens who put pressure on the opposing goaltender to steal a win for their team. It’s hard to argue with the results so far as Montreal currently sits second in the league in goals – a big increase from their 20th ranked offense in 2014-15.
Last in NHL goal scoring with just 1.65 goals per game (were 11th last season)
The Ducks were perhaps the most popular Stanley Cup Pick by hockey fans and analysts in the preseason, but their regular season is off to a disastrous start. The same team that led the Western Conference in points a season ago currently sits 26th in the league with a 5-8-4 record. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of their slow start has been their lack of offensive firepower up front. The team’s star trio of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler have combined for six goals in their 47 total games played. To put that in perspective, Montreal’s Dale Weise (yes, that Dale Weise) has already scored eight goals in just 18 games for his Canadiens. His cap hit is also less than 5% of that of the other three players combined. If Anaheim is going to turn their season around it will need to be on the backs of their superstars, and increased offensive production on their part is the best way to measure that improvement.
McDavid and Draisaitl 25 points in 21 games combined, only 6 wins
Most thought that the presence of Connor McDavid and an improved defense would be enough to propel the Oilers out of mediocrity and into the realm of respectability once more. Thus far into the 2015-16 season however, that has not been the case. McDavid did his part before a brutal injury, and Leon Draisaitl has stepped up with 13 points in just eight games since being called up. Even the offseason additions of Andrej Sekera and Cam Talbot haven’t helped Edmonton out of the cellar of the standings. With seemingly all of their young players stepping up and still fewer wins coming, perhaps it’s time that Edmonton’s brass considers shaking up their core before it’s too late.
2 goals, -8 rating through 17 games
Perhaps the biggest surprise to start the season has been Sidney Crosby’s atrocious numbers in Pittsburgh. Despite averaging over 20 minutes a night for the Penguins, Crosby has struggled offensively all season and now finds himself with just two goals and a -8 rating in 17 games. Those are not the numbers fans were expecting when Phil Kessel was acquired to add to the team’s already dangerous core consisting of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. Marc-Andre Fleury’s heroics have kept the team afloat in the Eastern conference, but with -1.7 CF%RelTM at even strength so far, don’t be surprised if Crosby’s struggles continue for a good portion of the season.