Mark Scheifele is scoring at nearly a goal-a-game clip for Winnipeg in the 2018 NHL playoffs, while Marc-Andre Fleury is stopping just about every shot directed his way. Something’s gotta give.
Stats don’t tell the whole story, of course. But here’s a look at 10 numbers that provide some insight on who has stepped up the most in the 2018 NHL playoffs:
As in, only one of the NHL’s top seven scorers through two rounds made it through to the conference finals – Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, who was tied for fifth with 16 points. (Note: Scheifele moved into a tie for fourth with 18 points after Saturday’s Game 1 win over Vegas.) Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel led with 21 points and Boston’s David Pastrnak was right behind with 20, but they’re done for the season – as are Boston’s Brad Marchand (17 points) and Patrice Bergeron (16 points), as well as Nashville’s Filip Forsberg (16 points).
Rookies are kept on an extra-short leash in the playoffs, but there’s no shortage of first-year players making an impact this spring. Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor leads the freshman scoring race with eight points – actually, he’s tied with eliminated Boston rookie Jake DeBrusk – with Vegas youngster Alex Tuch right behind at seven points. Tampa Bay’s playoff push has been helped by 26-year-old rookie center Yanni Gourde (six points) and 19-year-old rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (four points), while Chandler Stephenson and Jakub Vrana (five points apiece) have played supporting roles in Washington.
The plus/minus stat is meaningless, or at least that’s what everybody says. And hey, they might be right. Pittsburgh’s Guentzel had the best plus/minus through two rounds at plus-10, but what’s he doing right now? Not playing hockey, that’s what. Washington’s Brooks Orpik moved into a tie with Guentzel at plus-10 after Friday’s Game 1 win over Tampa Bay.
Scoring goes down in the playoffs? Don’t tell Winnipeg’s Scheifele, who has 12 goals through 13 games in the 2018 post-season. The NHL record is 19 goals in one playoff year, shared by Philadelphia’s Reggie Leach (1975-76) and Edmonton’s Jari Kurri (1984-85). If the Jets make the final, we’re saying Scheifele has a shot.
Among players who made it to the conference finals, Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen leads the way in average ice time. He’s followed closely by Caps teammates John Carlson (26:21) and Dmitry Orlov (25:30). Victor Hedman (26:17) tops Tampa Bay, Dustin Byfuglien is bustin’ and hustlin’ in Winnipeg (26:10) and Nate Schmidt is the vanguard in Vegas (25:22).
Cedric Paquette doesn’t lead too many statistical categories as a fourth-liner in Tampa Bay, but the Lightning grinder is pacing the playoffs in penalty minutes with 35. That figure has been boosted by a pair of 10-minute misconducts. Honorary mention goes to Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who racked up a runner-up 32 PIMs in just six games in the first round. Like Paquette, Zadorov’s total is inflated by a pair of misconducts. (Related: The Avs have taken to calling Zadorov ‘Big Z’ on their Twitter feed, which feels just plain wrong as long as Zdeno Chara is around.)
San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic sacrificed his body the most, blocking 38 shots through two rounds. But the Sharks have been eliminated, so Vlasic will soon be overtaken by equally bruised Niskanen (37) and Vegas’ Brayden McNabb (33).
Vegas hit man William Carrier has delivered 52 bodychecks to lead the playoffs. He’s followed by the Golden Knights’ McNabb (49), which makes you wonder whether the Vegas scorekeeper is padding the stats a bit. (Maybe he bet the over on hits?) Byfuglien has thrown 47 bodychecks, with the Jets’ behemoth blueliner surely leading the playoffs in pain-per-pound.
Nashville’s Ryan Johansen won 143 faceoffs through two rounds – and lost just 96 – for a winning percentage of nearly 60 percent. That’s, like, Patrice Bergeron good. In fact, while Bergeron had the most faceoff wins through two rounds (152), the Bruins center (56.5 percent) trailed Johansen in efficiency.
The Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck was the busiest goalie through two rounds, facing 372 shots in 12 games – and stopping 345 of them for a tidy .927 save percentage. Prior to Saturday night’s Game 1 against Winnipeg, the Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury had stared down 344 shots through 10 games, denying 327 of them for a Conn Smythe Trophy-worthy .951 save percentage. Washington’s Braden Holtby, who was relegated to the bench in the first two games of the post-season, blocked 288 of 311 shots in 11 games (10 starts) through two rounds, while Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 279 of 301 shots in 10 games (.927 save percentage).