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Stat Pack: Who’s Hot And Who's Not In The 2022 NHL Pre-Season?

Who's impressing or disappointing the most in the NHL's pre-season? What does it mean with the small sample sizes? Carol Schram takes a look.
Marc-Andre Fleury

In a week's time, the new NHL season will be fully underway. 

Most teams wrap up their exhibition schedules this weekend, while the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks get an early jump on their regular seasons with a pair of NHL Global Series games in Prague on Friday and Saturday.

Bearing in mind that pre-season trends don't necessarily carry over to the regular season, here's a look at some standout stats worth noticing through Monday's games.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Perfect In Net

Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2022 trade deadline, Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t quite able to get the Minnesota Wild past the St. Louis Blues in the first round of last year’s playoffs. But after he pondered retirement heading into last season, the affable stopper enjoyed his brief stint in the State Of Hockey enough to sign a new two-year contract, with a full no-movement clause.

Fleury turns 38 on Nov. 28, but so far this fall, the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner has looked as sharp as ever. On Sept. 25, he stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first 31:10 of the Wild's 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. One week later, he went the distance at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, stopping 12 more shots as the Wild shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0.

Looking at goalies with at least two pre-season appearances so far, four others have also been perfect. Philipp Grubauer of Seattle has stopped all 28 shots he has seen, in 90:18 of action, while Kevin Lankinen is an impressive 43-for-43 in the first 89:56 of his new gig with the Nashville Predators.

Among rookies, 21-year-old Colten Ellis of St. Louis and 22-year-old Jakub Skarek of the New York Islanders have also stopped every shot they’ve faced so far in their two appearances each. 

Wild, Hurricanes Start Strong

With five days left in the pre-season, just two teams have run the table to date.

Fleury's Minnesota Wild are 4-0-0, with a plus-10 goal differential. They've beaten the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche twice, and Chicago and Dallas once each. 

The Wild have killed 16 of 17 penalties they've taken for a 94.1 percent success rate while shorthanded, and 2022 trade-deadline acquisition Tyson Jost has led the way offensively with five points. Rookie Marco Rossi is right behind with four.

On Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes crushed the Columbus Blue Jackets by an 8-1 score, also improving their record to 4-0-0. 

At 41.2 percent, the Canes' 7-for-17 power play tops the league, and their goal differential is also an NHL-best plus-15. Offensively, they've been led by six points from Martin Necas and five from off-season acquisition Brent Burns, who is fitting in seamlessly with his new squad.

Sunshine State Stumbles

Two of the NHL's best teams last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, are still looking to get into gear.

Of course, there have been much bigger matters at hand than pre-season hockey: Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the Sunshine State.

Last week, the entire Lightning organization, including families and pets, was evacuated to Nashville. A last-minute game against the Predators was added to their exhibition schedule in the wake of two home-game cancellations due to the hurricane.

The Panthers' games proceeded as planned, but with the devastation in their state very much at the front of their minds.

So — let's not read too much into either team's pre-season record so far. The Lightning are 0-3-0, with just two goals scored and 14 goals against. Last season's Presidents' Trophy winners, the Panthers are 1-3-0, with nine goals scored and 16 against.

Both sides will get a chance to find their legs before the real games begin with a pair of head-to-head meetings. 

On Thursday, the Panthers are holding a supply drive and donating all ticket sales proceeds from the matchup at FLA Live Arena to Hurricane Ian relief efforts and last week, the Lightning announced a $2 million hurricane-relief donation through the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation. 

They'll host the Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday before opening their regular season with a three-game road trip.

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