Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Stats & Info: Hot starts for key players
By Vince Masi, ESPN Stats & Information
Each New York-area hockey team has played four games, roughly 4.8 percent of the 82-game schedule. It’s a small sample size, but there’s already been some interesting storylines developing.
The NEW YORK ISLANDERS are off to a 3-1-0 start, their best four-game start since 2007-08 and John Tavares is the top reason why. Tavares, the first-overall pick in the 2009 draft, has posted consecutive four-point games. He has picked up a point on eight of the Islanders' last nine goals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tavares is the first Islanders player with consecutive four-point games since Robert Reichel on March 27-29, 1997.
Tavares has posted four career four-point games in his three NHL seasons. He is the only Islanders player with at least one four-point game since he’s been in the league. If Tavares were to get one more four-point game this year, he’ll have the most by an Islanders player in a single season since Ziggy Palffy had three in 1997-98.
The NEW YORK RANGERS are on an extended road trip thanks to the renovation of Madison Square Garden and so far they are off to a 1-1-2 start. Their first win came courtesy of a 4-0 blanking of the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Henrik Lundqvist posted a 40-save shutout, his 36th of his career. Since coming into the league in 2005-06, Lundqvist’s 36 shutouts trail only Martin Brodeur (41) for the most in the NHL.
His performance on Tuesday was his third career shutout with 40-or-more saves. The only goalies with more shutouts of that kind since Lundqvist has been in the league are Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson with four each.
The NEW JERSEY DEVILS are off to a 3-1-0 start, which equals their October win total from last season when they went 3-8-1. The last two games have followed the same script:
- Give up the first goal
- Come back to tie the game and force a shootout
- Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise score in the shootout
- Johan Hedberg stops both shootout attempts
Hedberg is a perfect 3-0-0 to start the season, which is his best start since he won his first three decisions with the Thrashers in 2006-07. While aided by the shootout, Hedberg’s three October wins are the second-most in the month by a Devils goalie not named Brodeur since 1993-94 and the most since Chris Terreri went 5-0-0 in that 1993-94 campaign (Brodeur's rookie campaign).
And Hedberg has been money in the shootout for no matter where he’s played, posting an impressive 20-6 record. Since the NHL installed the shootout for the 2005-06 season, no player has a higher save percentage in the event than Hedberg at 80.4.
With Tavares, Lundqvist and Hedberg off to strong starts, things could be looking up for all three New York-area NHL teams.