Around the league – Nov 12, 2009

After a hot start, scoring has leveled off, and right now only six players are on pace for 100+ points. Anze Kopitar is on fire and on pace for 129, however, no one has tallied that many since 1996 when Mario Lemieux had 161 and Jaromir Jagr finished with 149. It is doubtful he can keep up this pace.

Alex Ovechkin was on pace for 134 until he got injured, and if he isn’t out much longer he is still on par for another 100 point season. Marian Gaborik (112), Rick Nash (110), Niklas Backstrom (100) and Corey Perry (100) are the others. Only Backstrom seems capable of maintaining this pace because he plays on the same team as Ovechkin and Alex Semin.

Sidney Crosby is currently 31st in league scoring, but I’m certain he will still finish top-five. Too many of the top stars have been hurt this season and that is a reason why we’ve seen such a dip amongst the supposed top-scorers. If Evgeni Malkin, Marc Savard and Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t get hurt, they’d be on pace for 100 points.

While it doesn’t look like we will see many in the Century Club, there are many players currently in the top 30 in scoring who are on pace to set career highs. Nash has never had more than 79 points. Perry has never scored more than 72 points. Ryan Smyth’s career high is 70 points, but is on pace for 94.

The two biggest early season surprises have been Rene Bourque and Dustin Penner. Penner is almost half way to his season high of 47 points, and he is on pace to double that and finish with 94 points. Bourque could have the biggest increase. He already has 18 points and is on pace for 92, which would shatter his previous career-high of 40.

Pavel Bure had one of the biggest increases going from 60 points his first season to 110 in his second. Very few players have had 40 or 50 point increases from a previous career-high, and if Penner or Bourque can complete the Cinderella season, they will join a very select crew.

ICE WOMAN OF THE WEEK

Courtesy of www.thefourthperiod.com do any of you recognize this Oiler fan? Even if you don’t like the Oiler colours you probably don’t mind this ensemble.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • This week the Devils won their 8th consecutive road game, which would be an NHL record, but they won three of them in shootouts. I wonder if the NHL stats guys will allow the Devils to be the new record holders. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 18 games, but one of them was in OT and they got a point, so the league doesn’t consider that 18 consecutive losses. If they do that for losses, I wonder if SO wins will be considered differently than regulation wins. If not, it would seem somewhat hypocritical.
  • The Devils have quietly won six straight, and they are a perfect 8-0 on the road, but surprisingly they are only 4-4 at home. Jacques Lemaire has them playing exceptional defence, having only allowed 34 goals in 16 games. But Zack Parise isn’t struggling under Lemaire with eight goals and 19 points in 16 games. If Parise scores 80+ points will Lemaire shed his “boring” coach mantra?
  • Here is the front page picture on the Devils website:

    Is it just me or do all three Bobbleheads look eerily similar? Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias and Zack Parise don’t look alike at all in real life, yet these bobbleheads make them look like brothers. Horrendous imitations.

  • Lots has been said about Craig Anderson playing 18 of Colorado’s first 19 games, but the Sharks’ Evgeni Nabokov and the Kings’ Jonathon Quick have played 17 of 19 games. Ray Emery has played in 13 of the Flyers 14 games, while Martin Brodeur, Mikka Kiprusoff, Niklas Backstrom, Ryan Miller and Ondrej Pavelec have all started all but two or their respective teams’ games. Last year four goalies, Nabokov (76), Marty Turco (74), Backstrom (71) and Henrik Lundqvist (70) played 70 games. Minny and Dallas didn’t make the playoffs and the Sharks and Rangers lost in the first round. Not many goalies, excluding Marty Brodeur can play 70 games and then excel in the playoffs.
  • The Capitals are 3-1 without Alex Ovechkin, and they have scored 17 goals in the four games he has missed. They haven’t missed him; YET.
  • Ken Hitchcock coached his 1000 game last night; unfortunately it was a forgettable evening as the Jackets lost 9-1. Hitchcock became the 16th coach to coach 1000 games. Marc Crawford did it last week, and the other active coaches with more than 1,000 games include Pat Quinn (1,337), Ron Wilson (1,189), Jacques Lemaire (1,147) and Jacques Martin (1,116). Joel Quenneville and Lindy Ruff will join the club next year. Quenneville will be at 999 at the end of the year, while Ruff will sit at 984.

LEADERS THROUGH THE WEEK

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
Fourteen: Alex Ovechkin and Anze Kopitar
Twelve: Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos
Eleven: Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Dustin Penner
Ten: Ryan Malone

Assists:
Eighteen: Joe Thornton, Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Kaberle   
Sixteen: Kopitar and Vinny Prospal
Fifteen: Ryan Getzlaf (five assists this week. Looks like he is healthy)
Fourteen: Paul Stastny Dan Boyle, Marty St.Louis and Brad Richards

Points:
30: Kopitar (leads for 3rd straight week and had six points this week)
23: Ovechkin (didn’t play and is still second), Marleau and Nash.
22: Gaborik, Penner, Backstrom, Thornton and Ryan Smyth
***Rick Nash is the only player in the top ten who is a minus player, sitting at -7***

Plus/Minus:
+14: Matt Carle and Ryan O’Reilly
+12: Alex Goligoski
+11: Wayne Simmonds and Chris Pronger
+10: Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Henrik Tallinder and Niklas Lidstrom
+9: Penner, Kopitar, Scott Hannan and Davis Drewiske
***The worst +/- goes to Rod Brind’Amour and Brent Burns at a woeful -13. Aaron Ward, Martin Havlat and Robert Nilsson are all -12. Nilsson has only played in 12 games, while the others have played 17 games and Havlat 15. Just another reason why the Oilers need to get players healthy so Nilsson doesn’t get on the ice.***

PP Goals:
Six: Heatley and Stamkos
Five: Gaborik, Smyth, Andrew Brunette, Scott Hartnell and Teemu Selanne
Four: Kopitar, Marleau, Milan Hejduk, Mike Richards, Loui Eriksson, Brooks Laich, Devon Setoguchi, Raffi Torres, Rich Peverley Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Hagman, Mike Fisher and Shane Doan.

Hits:
71: Ryan Callahan (leads for fifth straight week).
69: Chris Neil
64: Dustin Brown
57: Scott Nichol (had 13 hits this week)
56: Brooks Orpik
55: Stephane Robidas
54: David Backes and Matt Greene
53: J.F Jacques
52: Craig Adams

Shots:
86: Ovechkin (didn’t play and still leads)
72: Zach Parise
66: Nash
65: Jeff Carter
64: Sidney Crosby and Brian Gionta
63: Michael Cammalleri and Dustin Brown
62: Samuelsson, Patrick Sharp and Henrik Zetterberg

FINAL POINT

Sidney Crosby has yet to crack the top-ten in scoring, but he is tied with Kevin Bieksa and Hall Gill for most minor penalties with 13. Rene Bourque leads the Flames with nine, while Denis Grebeskov has taken eight to lead the Oilers.

INJURIES CONTINUE

After a knee-on-knee hit with Derek Roy last night, Denis Grebeshkov has been sent home to Edmonton to have his knee looked at by the Oilers doctor. He will miss the remainder of the trip, and depending on what they find on the MRI, he could be out longer. And Sheldon Souray is skating and is getting closer, but still no set timetable on his return.