The 10 Most Surprising Statistics of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2013

The 10 Most Surprising Statistics of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

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    The NHL playoffs are usually not determined by predictable performances.

    If they were, the President's Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks would not be on the short end of a 3-2 count in the conference semifinal round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    The predictable stat would have seen the Blackhawks taking out the seventh-seeded Red Wings in five games and moving onto the next round as a result of dominating performances by captain Jonathan Toews.

    However, instead of scoring at will on the competition, Toews is struggling.

    Here's a look at 10 of the most surprising statistics in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nathan Horton's Plus-Minus Rating

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    Nathan Horton was a solid playoff performer for the Boston Bruins when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and again this season.

    He has scored five goals and seven assists in his 12 playoff games as the Bruins have gotten through to the Eastern Conference Finals.

    However, the surprising aspect of Horton's playoff performance is his plus-minus rating of plus-14. That leads all playoff performers in plus-minus ratings.

    Linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic are second in plus-minus with a rating of plus-9.

    Not only is Horton leading all skaters in plus-minus, he has a five-point edge on all other players.

Tomas Vokoun's Goals-Against Average and Save Percentage

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    Tomas Vokoun has been able to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a winning performance in goal.

    Vokoun started the playoffs on the bench, but No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury performed ineffectively and head coach Dan Bylsma had little choice but to turn to Vokoun if he wanted the top-seeded Penguins to have a long playoff run.

    After splitting their first four games against the New York Islanders and basically getting outplayed in the process, Vokoun has started seven straight games for the Penguins.

    He has a 1.85 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage while recording one shutout for the Penguins. Bylsma was hoping Vokoun would perform adequately in goal. Instead, he has been outstanding.

Kings Can't Lose at Home

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    The Los Angeles Kings have become a juggernaut at the Staples Center. The Kings have a team-record seven-game playoff home winning streak at the Staples Center.

    The Kings clinched the Stanley Cup with a home victory last year against the New Jersey Devils. They won three straight home games in their six-game first-round triumph against the St. Louis Blues this year.

    They reeled off three more home wins in the conference semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks.

    While they have set a postseason home winning streak, they are also in the midst of a 13-game home winning streak overall. The Kings won their last seven regular-season home games and their first six postseason games this year.

    The Kings haven't lost at home since dropping a 1-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on March 23. They are hoping they can win at least one more at home in the seventh game.

Penguins' Penalty Killing

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins displayed a lot of outstanding characteristics during the 2013 regular season.

    One of them was not their penalty killing. The Penguins ranked 25th in killing off opposing penalties as they managed to shut down their opponents on 79.6 percent of the occasions when they were shorthanded.

    That's just about what you would expect from an offensive-minded team that regularly outscored opponents. If they gave up a power-play goal from time to time, it was not a big deal since the Pens scored so many power-play goals themselves.

    During the playoffs, the Penguins have shown significant improvement when killing penalties. The Penguins are stopping 89.7 percent of their opponents' power plays, and that ranks third among the 16 teams that made the playoffs.

    They are also dangerous when shorthanded. Pascal Dupuis has scored two of his postseason goals while shorthanded.

Derick Brassard Makes His Case

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    The New York Rangers finished their season by losing in the conference semifinals to their Original Six rival Boston Bruins in five games.

    They lost because their best players underperformed. Brad Richards and Rick Nash may be the two highest-paid players on the team, but they did not provide goals or leadership.

    However, when the Rangers made their move at the end of the regular season and in the first round against the Washington Capitals, they were led by Columbus Blue Jackets castoff Derick Brassard.

    Brassard led the Rangers in scoring with 12 points. He finished five points ahead of Mats Zuccarello, who was second on the team in scoring with seven points.

    Richards and Nash combined for two goals. That's not enough from the Rangers' so-called stars.

    But Brassard may have established himself as a key player on Broadway for the foreseeable future.

Home Ice Domination

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    Home-ice advantage has not meant much in the Stanley Cup playoffs in recent years.

    In the past few postseasons, road teams have performed well. In the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, road teams went 30-18 in the first round of the playoffs before home teams started to assert themselves in the second round. Road teams were 7-14 in the 2012 conference semifinals.

    In the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, home teams went 30-17 in the first round and are a remarkable 18-3 in the conference semifinals.

    Crowds may or may not be louder and coaches may or may not be making better strategic moves with their final changes, but home teams are performing quite well in the 2013 playoffs.

Slumping Jonathan Toews

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    Jonathan Toews is one of the best players in the NHL.

    During the regular season, he was the best player on the best team in the league. Toews can score, play standout defense and dominate in the faceoff circle.

    However, the playoffs have been a nightmare for Toews. He has just one goal and three assists in 10 postseason games and he also has a minus-1 rating. He has managed to win 56.3 percent of his faceoffs, but his overall production for the Chicago Blackhawks has been disappointing.

    The Blackhawks are trailing the Red Wings 3-2 in their conference semifinal series. If they can't win Game 6 in Detroit and Game 7 at home, Toews' season will end in heartbreaking and brutal fashion.

Pascal Dupuis Tied for Lead in Playoff Goal Scoring

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    Sidney Crosby missed the Penguins' first playoff game, yet he still has a share of the league lead in postseason goals with seven.

    That's not a surprise. Even though Crosby is coming back from a severe jaw injury, he is the best player in the NHL and a spot at the top of the goal-scoring chart is expected.

    However, Crosby is sharing the league lead in postseason goals scored with teammate Pascal Dupuis. Even though Dupuis had an impressive 20 goals in the 48-game regular season, you would expect Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal or Jarome Iginla to emerge as the leading goal scorers in the playoffs.

    However, Dupuis is exceeding expectations by skating hard to the net and cashing in on his opportunities.

Bruins Get Scoring from the Blue Line

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    The Boston Bruins rely on their depth to wear down opponents. Claude Julien has four useful lines and the Bruins have the ability to take over games in the third period and overtime because their opponents get tired and they don't.

    But it's not just about the forwards. The Bruins have gotten a solid offensive contribution from their defense. They have gotten 13 goals from their defensemen, and that has keyed their ability to put the puck in the net.

    Surprisingly, it's not hard-shooting Zdeno Chara leading the way. While Chara has two goals, rookie Torey Krug and veteran Johnny Boychuk have four goals each. Adam McQuaid, Wade Redden and Matt Bartkowski are the other Bruins defensemen who have scored in the postseason.

Jimmy Howard Rises to Star Level

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    It has been a very solid postseason for Jimmy Howard.

    The Detroit Red Wings goaltender led his team to a seven-game upset win over the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round and he has the Red Wings on the brink of a major upset over the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings lead the series 3-2 with the sixth game in Detroit scheduled for Monday.

    Howard has a 2.36 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He registered a 2-0 shutout over the Blackhawks in Game 5 of the series.

    If he can hold his form, the Red Wings have an excellent chance of finishing off the Blackhawks and playing for the Western Conference Championship.