The Most Surprising Stats in the 1st Half of the 2015-16 NHL Season

Steve MacfarlaneFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2016

The Most Surprising Stats in the 1st Half of the 2015-16 NHL Season

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Stats are a funny thing. Depending on expectations, the most surprising numbers from an NHL season that is past the halfway point can be shockingly good or unexpectedly bad.

    There is a mix of both on this list, with some star players performing well under their career marks and some young stars in the making raising eyebrows with their impressive numbers.

    There have been great strides made by some teams in the standings, and brutal numbers put up by other groups that are leading to disappointing starts.

    Some of these stats are advanced, while others are as simple as the old plus/minus rating.

    There are plenty more statistics that could be pored through and analyzed, so feel free to add your own in the comments below as well.

    Here is our offering for the most surprising of the season so far.

    All statistics are via NHL.com.

Florida Panthers' 13-Game Winning Streak

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    There are a lot of surprising elements to the Florida Panthers' impressive season so far.

    The team leads the Atlantic Division with 26 wins and 57 points through 43 games. They are tied with the Washington Capitals for the best goals-against average (2.12) and 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr leads the way offensively with 15 goals and 32 points in 40 games.

    But the most surprising number associated with the Panthers thus far is the 13 consecutive wins they strung together from mid-December into January.

    It takes near perfection in all aspects of the game to win that many in a row. You need your top goaltender and backup to be interchangeable (Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were just that), your offense to be clicking and your defensive to be stingy with chances.

    A single off-night is all it takes for the streak to end.

Ryan Getzlaf's Three Goals

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    Christine Cotter/Associated Press

    Every now and again, superstar players can have awful seasons. It looks like the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf is due for one for the second time in this decade.

    The 30-year-old has a paltry three goals through 37 games this season after netting 25 last year and 31 the previous season. In the lockout year of 2012, Getzlaf finished with 15 in 44 games—which projects to 28 over a full 82 contests.

    But those three standout offensive years followed an 11-goal, 57-point year. Those are fine totals for an average player but not for someone who was producing at a point-per-game pace or better for four straight seasons prior to the lull.

    Considering the Ducks were expected to contend for the Western Conference title this year, the three goals from Getzlaf is shocking.

    But the Ducks have been a disappointment as a whole, with the team firing at a league-low 6.3 shooting percentage—a full three percent lower than their 9.3 last season.

Patrick Kane's 63 Points

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The NHL hasn't had a 115-point player since 2007 when Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins finished with 120 points in his second season. It's been almost a decade, but Patrick Kane's incredible season has featured some serious highs—which project to a 115-point finish.

    The Chicago Blackhawks playmaker has 25 goals and 63 points through 45 games this season. A nice chunk of that total was produced during an impressive 26-game point streak that went into the record books as the longest in franchise history and the biggest stretch by any American-born player. It's also the longest by any active player—edging Crosby's 25-game stretch in 2010-11.

    Kane has a healthy lead in the Art Ross Trophy race, 10 points up on last year's winner, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.

    Benn won last year's race with a meager (by comparison) 87 points.

The Calgary Flames' 88.4 Percent Special Teams Index

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Even though last year's playoff run was a surprise, the Calgary Flames' disappointing setback this season is equally shocking.

    The team's struggle to stick around the .500 mark can be attributed to a couple of elements of their game. One is goaltending, which might be affecting the other—their atrocious special teams play.

    No team in the league has a worse special teams index—which is their power-play success rate added to their penalty-killing percentage. It's not an official NHL stat, but the two should add up to around 100 in order for teams to be happy with their performance on the man advantage or while down a body on the ice.

    The Flames have been above 100 for five of the 10 prior seasons (since the lockout year) and only below 98 once, in 2012-13 when their penalty killing dipped to 15.7 percent. So this year's combined 88.4 is abysmal. They are dead last in both categories with a 14.4 percent power play and 74 percent penalty kill as of Jan. 13.

    The worst total last season was the Buffalo Sabres' 88.5.

Dylan Larkin's Plus-22 Rating

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Detroit Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin is still a teenager. The 19-year-old former University of Michigan freshman superstar wasn't expected to land with the Wings in a full-time role this winter. But he had a strong training camp and filled in for Pavel Datsyuk on a line with Henrik Zetterberg.

    With a linemate like the Red Wings captain, it's not surprising that Larkin is performing well. However, no one would have expected the rookie NHLer to sit second in the league in plus/minus. Only Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli's plus-23 mark is better than Larkin's plus-22 rating.

    Larkin is giving Artemi Panarin and Max Domi serious competition for the Calder Trophy this season.

Sidney Crosby's .80 PPG

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Sidney Crosby's 66-point pace is stunning when you consider the lowest previous point-per-game average of his career was 1.09 last year.

    A 66-point total would match his output from half a season's work in 2010-11 when concussions kept him from playing the entire campaign.

    Crosby has never put up a shooting percentage lower than 10.7 but is at 9.8 currently, which is also a disturbing stat surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins captain.

    Things may be turning around for the 28-year-old, who has 14 points in his last 11 contests. Despite his struggles, his 1.326 lifetime point-per-game average is tops among active players and is the fifth best of all time.

Erik Karlsson's Point-Per-Game Pace

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    Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

    There was a time when NHL defensemen scored at ridiculous rates.

    But since 1996, only one 80-point season has been produced by a blueliner—Detroit Red Wings Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06.

    It's been 20 years, but it looks like Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson is halfway to snapping that skid. The 25-year-old reigning Norris Trophy winner has 45 points through 44 games and is the league's fourth-leading scorer so far.

    He can post one of the best 50 seasons by a defender in NHL history if he stays on this pace and finishes with 81 or more points.

Barret Jackman's SAT Score

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Six of the top seven players in SAT percentage this season are Los Angeles Kings. No surprise given the Kings are possession stats gurus and have been for years. The SAT percentage is the percentage of all shot attempts taken by a player's team when he is on the ice.

    The other guy, sitting sixth as of Jan. 13, was the gritty, defensive-minded Nashville Predators blueliner Barret Jackman with a 58.4 percent mark. He had a 52.8 percent a year ago—good for 125th in the league among those who played at least 60 games. .

    He's the top defenseman this year—ahead of the likes of Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Leon Draisaitl's 3.13 Points Per 60 Minutes

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    If you were going to predict an Edmonton Oilers rookie to be among the league leaders in points per 60 minutes this season, it would have been Connor McDavid, right?

    Well, it's big center Leon Draisaitl who is fifth in the league in the category just past the halfway mark of the season. He's played 34 games after starting the year in the AHL, joining the team when McDavid went down with a broken clavicle early in the season.

    The 20-year-old has exploded for 10 goals and 34 points while playing alongside Taylor Hall and finds himself up with league leaders Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Nicklas Backstrom, and ahead of Vladimir Tarasenko in production per 60 minutes—an indication of just how good the third-overall draft pick of the 2014 draft can be.