Around the Rink: The Beginning of the 2015-16 NHL Season by the Numbers

Adrian Dater@@adaterNHL National ColumnistOctober 30, 2015

Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) and  center Tyler Seguin (91) warm up before an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press

So much has gone exactly as everyone thought, and so much has gone not at all the way anyone thought. Sorry for the Dickensian start to this word salad, but the best word to describe the NHL season so far probably would be: ambiguous.

We thought Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens would be good again, and they have been. But 9-2 to start the season? We thought the Anaheim Ducks would be very good again this season, and, wow, have we been wrong on that so far. The Ducks fell to 1-7-2 with another loss Thursday night, in St. Louis.

We have a lot more numbers for you here, as we crunch some of the more interesting ones from the month that was October 2015 in the NHL. There is such a long way to go before we have playoff hockey, and odds are some of the more surprising ones here will even out by springtime. But who knows? One thing that can be said about the NHL so far:

It hasn't been predictable.

We'll kick things off with some nice numbers from down South:

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31: The combined number of points so far between the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn (17) and Tyler Seguin (14). The pair have picked up right where they left off last season, and more important for coach Lindy Ruff, now the Stars are winning consistently, too.

They got their Western Conference-leading eighth win of the year Thursday night in overtime against Vancouver, and their 35 goals are second only in the league to Montreal's 39. There are still doubters about the Dallas defense, but with this kind of offense, it doesn't have to be perfect to win.

Check out this overtime snipe from Benn that beat the Canucks:

10: Jaromir Jagr's point output through the first nine games for the Florida Panthers—and eight is the more correct game number, as he left with a lower-body injury Tuesday night against Colorado after playing only two-plus minutes. 

Jagr is 43 years old. No NHL player has scored 100 points past the age of 36 since Joe Sakic did it for Colorado (100) in 2006-07. The all-time record for most points by the oldest player is 103, by Gordie Howe as a 40-year-old for Detroit in 1968-69. It'll still be a tall order for Jagr to reach 100, but would anyone be shocked if he did?

1: Anaheim's win total after 10 games. It's a shocking number, considering many (myself included) picked the Ducks to win the Stanley Cup. 

Nobody can figure it out. The Ducks have scored just 10 goals. The next lowest number in the West is 20, by Calgary. Now, Ryan Getzlaf is out with an appendectomy. Yeah, yeah, it's still early. But it already might be too late for the Ducks in the brutal West. According to the respected numbers site SportsClubStats.com, the Ducks' chances of making the playoffs right now stand at just 5.8 percent.

Maybe we all just overrated the Ducks. After all, their goal differential last season was just plus-10 (236-226). That was the smallest margin of the eight Western Conference playoff teams.

5: Sidney Crosby's point output after 10 games. Not quite the total we expected, especially after the Penguins added Phil Kessel to the lineup. 

However, No. 87 did post two assists in Thursday's 4-3 win over Buffalo, and the Pens have quietly won three in a row. Still, Crosby has points in only two of his 10 outings so far. Nothing to be too alarmed about yet, especially if the wins keep happening. But it has still been a slow start for the two-time Art Ross winner.

12: Connor McDavid's scoring output after his first 11 NHL games, which entered Friday tied for fourth in the league. The kid is going to be a great one, all right. 

If you watched Thursday's game against Montreal, you saw some amazing big-time hockey I.Q. from No. 97, including his assist on Benoit Pouliot's tying goal in the third period of a 4-3 Oilers win over Carey Price and the Canadiens. Observe:

The way McDavid not only anticipated the puck coming his way along the boards, but then fending off P.K. Subban and still making a perfect backhand lead pass to Pouliot? You can't teach that.

12,183: The average home attendance through seven home games at the Barclays Center for the New York Islanders. That ranks last in the league and is just 77 percent of capacity at the Isles' new building.

Granted, Brooklyn-ites may need more time to realize they have a hockey team now, and granted, there are some obstructed-view seats that the planners inexplicably allowed. But that's still a very disappointing number for a team that entered Friday with a 6-2-2 record. 

If this is how they're supporting a new, young, good team, what's it going to be like if the Islanders turn bad again?

1.74: The goals-against average of Nashville's Pekka Rinne through his first seven starts. Not surprisingly, six of them finished in victories. Rinne was my pick for the Vezina this season, and right now he's giving Carey Price all he can handle. 

The Predators have lost only once in regulation—one fewer time than Montreal, which has gotten all the publicity so far.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

592: Jarome Iginla's career goal output. Some scoffed when Colorado signed him to a three-year, $16 million contract prior to last season, but he led the team in goals with 29 and is averaging close to a point a game his first nine contests this year at age 37. Included were two assists in Thursday's 2-1 Avs win in Tampa Bay. The man can still play.

Eight more goals, and Iggy will become the 19th player in league history to score 600.

3: According to Hockeyfights.com, the league high for fighting majors by a single player so far, shared by four players. After Thursday's games, there were 34 total fights, an average of 0.24 a game. Last season's average was 0.32 per game. 

In 2001-02, the average was 0.65 fights per game. In 1985-86, eight teams had 90 or more fighting majors. Last season, Columbus led the league with 44. To state the obvious, fighting continues to be less and less a fabric of the NHL.

7: The number of goals Montreal's Alex Semin has scored in his last 67 NHL games, which did not include Thursday's game in Edmonton. Semin, in fact, did not play against the Oilers, as he was a healthy scratch by coach Michel Therrien.

It's mind-boggling to think Carolina actually gave this guy a five-year, $35 million contract extension in 2013, only to buy him out two years later. The Canadiens, who paid him $1.1 million on a buyout deal, seem to already be regretting it.

Some other news, notes and observations from around the NHL

No go, Buffalo

Any of the early excitement surrounding the Buffalo Sabres—new coach, some new players, one of them being exciting rookie Jack Eichel—has dissipated. The Sabres play hard, but they just can't win games yet. And now, forward Evander Kane is out a while with a leg injury, and goalie Robin Lehner remains out long term with an ankle problem.

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Despite all the hype surrounding Eichel, his numbers through 10 games weren't overwhelming: three goals, zero assists, minus-seven. The kid will be a fine player, but any "He's better than McDavid!" storylines have quickly become outdated.

But...

That said, here is one very nice and interesting compliment toward Eichel from none other than the NHL's all-time greatest coach, Scotty Bowman, who maintains his primary residence near Buffalo and sees a lot of Sabres games. I asked Bowman what he's noticed about Eichel so far and he gave me this:

"Eichel has mannerisms of Mario Lemieux in his forechecking style," Bowman said. "He does not chase when he forechecks, in that he tries to figure out where the puck is going. He is looking to where the puck is going, not always where it is."

Tempers rising in Denver

Patrick Roy got a bit testy and profane Thursday morning when asked about his Avalanche team's 2-5-1 start (3-5-1 now, after the Avs' win over Tampa Bay later that day).

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

When pressed by the hosts of Denver's KKFN "The Fan" on his weekly radio show (contains profanity), Roy said, "We need to be positive. S--tting on our players won't help get their confidence back. 

"I saw a lot of my teams having bad starts when I was in Denver and Montreal. I don't like to be in this position," Roy said. "The people know me; they know how much that I love to win, and they know even more how much I hate to lose. You think I enjoy every morning, waking up and going to the rink and losing? Nobody does that, and we're proud people.  

"Are we playing the type of hockey we want? No. Are we having the start we want? No. Are we disappointed in our start? Yes. But at the same time, we're not giving up. ... But there are times when you have to put your foot on the floor and say f--k it—it's enough. It's enough. We have to win tonight."

Message, received.

Deals are tough to make in today's NHL

Fans in Anaheim and of other slow-starting teams are screaming "Make some trades!" But it's just not that easy in the NHL anymore. 

Said one Western Conference general manager to Bleacher Report: 

"Nobody gives up prospects anymore. It just doesn't happen much. It's just very hard to make a hockey trade now, for lots of reasons, mostly the cap."

Would Calgary like to trade Dennis Wideman, for instance, for some help up front or maybe a goaltender? Sure, but he's got $11 million the rest of this and next season, he's 32 and you're just not going to get anything other than another high-paid guy of another team that's gotten tired of him.

Are you going to trade young guys like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau or Sam Bennett? Not unless you've lost all your senses, which Calgary GM Brad Treliving has not. Yet Treliving is hearing it every day from the fans and media in Calgary to do something. 

The same GM compared trying to make impact trades now as Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill. It's just very difficult. That's why GMs fear these bad starts so much. They get the fans all panicked so fast, and it's hard not to want to quiet them down with some kind of move.

Adrian Dater covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. Follow him @Adater.

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