Here are 10 numbers that stood out – for reasons good, bad or otherwise – in the first half of the 2019-20 NHL regular season:
Minus-35 for Andreas Athanasiou
Somebody has to have the worst plus-minus in the league, and when you’re skating a regular shift for a team that has a minus-71 goal differential through 45 games, well, you put yourself in peril. At least Athanasiou has plenty of company in Detroit on the wrong side of the plus-minus ledger. Wings players occupy the bottom three spots, with center Valtteri Filppula (minus-27) and defenseman Dennis Cholowski (minus-22) slumming with Athanasiou, and Detroit counts five players in the NHL’s bottom 10. The Wings have 14 skaters who are double-digit minus players this season. The only regular Wings skater who has a plus rating is veteran Darren Helm. He’s plus-1.
0 goals for Charlie McAvoy
Sure, he’s a defenseman, but isn’t he supposed to be an offensive defenseman? The Bruins’ McAvoy, skating in his third NHL campaign, “leads” the NHL with the most shots (57) without a goal this season. For a player with his mobility, vision and distribution skills – not to mention, a guy who has displayed big-game chops in the playoffs – McAvoy has yet to deliver consistent offense in the regular season. The good news? He’s still only 22 and learning the ropes. Plus, 14 of his 15 points – all assists, naturally – have come at even strength this season. McAvoy has averaged only 1:21 power-play ice time per game, which ranks 10th on the Bruins (and third among Boston defensemen behind Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk).
1.52 points per game for Connor McDavid
The league’s scoring leader is on pace for 125 points – that’s just a shade behind Nikita Kucherov’s 128-point output last season, which was the most since Joe Thornton had 125 points in 2005-06. He’ll need to bump up his NHL-best points-per-game average to surpass Kucherov and Thornton’s signature seasons, which won’t be easy as NHL teams tend to improve defensively in the second half of the campaign. Then again, we’re talking about McDavid, so anything’s possible. Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl (1.50) and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (1.47) rank second and third, respectively.
13 game-opening goals for David Pastrnak
The NHL leader with 35 goals in 45 games, including a league-best three hat tricks, Pastrnak has become the game’s most prolific goal-scorer this season due in part to his penchant for getting out of the gate quickly. Pastrnak has scored the first goal in a game 13 times this season – nobody else in the league has done it more than six times.
17 goals for Noel Acciari
Breakout alert. After scoring 18 goals in his first 180 NHL games across four seasons with Boston, Noel Acciari has 17 goals in 41 games with Florida this season. And he might have even more goals if he’d shoot the puck more often: among players with at least four goals, Acciari’s 25.0-percent shooting efficiency (17 goals on 68 shots) leads the league. (Then again, he could pass the puck more often, too: Acciari has just three assists.) His previous career high was 10 goals in 60 games with the Bruins in 2017-18, and he had just six goals in 72 games with the B’s last season. But he was solid in a depth role in Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup final, and the Panthers noticed and signed him to a three-year, $5-million UFA deal. It’s paying dividends, especially in mid-December when Acciari potted two hat tricks in four days. (Don’t worry, he hasn’t forgotten his bottom-six roots – Acciari also leads all NHL forwards with 68 blocked shots.)
19 even-strength goals for Jakub Vrana
Relatively unheralded, Washington left winger Jakub Vrana is tied with Pastrnak for third in the NHL with 19 even-strength goals (behind Auston Matthews’ 23 and Jack Eichel’s 20). But what’s really interesting is that Vrana has 19 goals on the season , period. Which is to say, he has 19 at even-strength and zero on the power play. Overall, 30 of Vrana’s 36 points this season have come at even strength, plus six power-play assists which he has collected during 1:33 power-play ice time per game (eighth on the Caps and seventh among the team’s forwards). Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher is second on the All-Even-Strength-Goal Team, with 15 and zero on the power play.
21 goals for Anthony Duclair
Seventeen NHL players have reached 20 goals this season, none more surprising than Anthony Duclair. The 24-year-old left winger, who has already bounced from the Rangers to Arizona to Chicago to Columbus to Ottawa, is making the most of his opportunity with the rebuilding Senators. After an 18-game NHL introduction as a teenager with the Rangers in 2014-15, Duclair potted 20 goals in 81 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16. And he had 19 goals in 74 games split between Columbus and Ottawa last season, including eight goals in 21 games with the Sens. So, the ability has always been there. And now we’re seeing it on a nightly basis.
23 power-play points for David Perron
David Perron, the 31-year-old veteran in his 13th NHL season, is on pace for a career year. Perron, whose previous best was a 66-point season with Vegas, has been a point-per-gamer this season with 19 goals and 45 points in 45 games. Not to mention, he’s fifth in the league in power-play points with 23. (The high-profile leaders: McDavid 31, Draisaitl 29, Pastrnak 27, MacKinnon 24). Not to mention, Perron is tied with Draisaitl for the NHL lead in game-winning goals with seven. That’s pretty good for a guy who has cycled through five NHL teams, including three tours of duty with the Blues. Then again, he went to the final with Vegas in 2018 and got a Cup ring with St. Louis in 2019, so maybe there’s something to be said for moving around.
24 home goals for Auston Matthews
Pastrnak’s closest pursuer in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy is Matthews, who has 31 goals in 45 games – including an astounding 24 goals in 22 home games. Pastrnak is second with 22 goals in 26 home games, followed by Eichel with 19 goals in 21 home games. Matthews has been especially lethal on Bay St. in recent weeks, with 11 goals on 31 shots in his past seven home games.
26:29 ice time per game for Thomas Chabot
The third-year Ottawa defenseman is the NHL’s ice-time leader, and the Senators haven’t been afraid to lean on their 22-year-old linchpin. He has surpassed 30 minutes in a game seven times in 2019-290, including a season-high 37:50 against Tampa Bay on Dec. 17. Incredibly, that was the first contest in a four-games-in-six-days stretch for the Senators in which Chabot played at least 31:45 a night.