Welcome back to another edition of the NHL Stat Pack, which digs into some of the most intriguing numbers around the league.
This week, we’ll take a look at the Boston Bruins’ record-setting dominance at TD Garden, prompt the Chicago Blackhawks to show some mercy and explore the trade market for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and ponder just how good the Seattle Kraken could be if they sorted out their penalty killing.
Let’s get to it.
The Good: Boston Sets Home Winning Streak Record
The off-season profile for the Boston Bruins was pretty grim: an aging lineup, some key players missing time after off-season surgeries and Patrice Bergeron contemplating retirement.
Fast forward six months and Bergeron and David Krejci are back in the fold. Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy have completed their rehabs and are playing as well as ever. And the Bruins are literally unbeatable on home ice.
On Black Friday, Boston set a new NHL record in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn its 12th-straight win at TD Garden to start the season while taking down the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime.
This is getting to be a bit of a trend. Last season, the Florida Panthers tied the old record of 11 home wins to start the season, set by the 1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks. The Montreal Canadiens also hit 10 games in 2016-17, matching the 1925-26 Ottawa Senators.
Last season, the Panthers rode that hot start all the way to the Presidents’ Trophy. This year, the Bruins are in the pole position in the waning days of November — two points behind the New Jersey Devils after Monday’s games, but still with a league-leading .857 points percentage thanks to two games in hand.
The Bruins boast the NHL’s best goal differential at plus-38 through 21 games. With a league-leading average of 4.00 goals per game, they’re outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly two goals a game. Their average goals-against of 2.24 is second-best in the NHL, slightly behind New Jersey. Special teams are solid, and Linus Ullmark’s 2.00 goals-against average is the best in the league among eligible goalies while David Pastrnak is tied for fifth in league scoring, with 32 points.
Over the next week, the well-rested Bruins will have the opportunity to stretch that home winning streak to 15 games as they play out a four-game homestand. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be on the second half of a back-to-back set when they touch down in Boston on Tuesday. Then, the Colorado Avalanche play their third game of a four-game road trip on Saturday, and the Vegas Golden Knights wrap up a four-game Eastern swing on Monday, Dec. 5.
The Bad: The Chicago Blackhawks Slide
GM Kyle Davidson made it clear that the Chicago Blackhawks were heading into rebuild territory when he sold off Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach in trades this summer.
Luke Richardson’s plucky squad came out of the gate well, with a 4-2-0 record, but the last month has been tough sledding.
A 7-2 home-ice loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday stretched Chicago’s current winless skid to seven games (0-6-1). And after Columbus snagged a point against Vegas on Monday night, the Blackhawks have slipped to 31st place in the NHL standings.
With just 14 goals scored during their losing streak, Chicago now averaging just 2.48 goals per game, second-worst in the league behind Philadelphia. They’re also managing only 26.3 shots per game, which is second worst behind Arizona.
It’s great to see Jonathan Toews looking like his old self again at age 34 — leading his team with eight goals and winning a stunning 64.9 percent of his faceoffs, a career high. But Patrick Kane has just three goals, none on the power play, and is struggling with a career-low shooting percentage of 4.6 percent that just feels wrong.
Both players are in the last year of their current contracts, and their agent Pat Brisson has said he’ll take his time before assessing whether one or both players could be dealt to a contending team. Both have full no-movement clauses, so they can control if and where they move. And while history still binds them to Chicago, they deserve the opportunity to showcase themselves before moving into unrestricted free agency if they choose to explore it.
Goaltender Alex Stalock also helped keep the Blackhawks competitive in the early going. A feel-good story who had played just one NHL game since the 2019-20 season, he put up a 3-2-1 record and .914 save percentage before he was knocked out of action with a concussion on Nov. 1. At that time, the Blackhawks were still .500, at 4-4-2. Since then, they’ve gone 2-7-2.
The Intriguing: Are the Seattle Kraken Actually Cup Favorites?
Riding a five-game winning streak, the Seattle Kraken have climbed to seventh overall in the NHL standings, third in the Western Conference and second in the Pacific Division.
As of Tuesday, moneypuck.com has the Kraken pegged at a 98.1 percent chance to make the playoffs in their second season — and gives them the best odds in the league of winning the Stanley Cup, at 11.7 percent.
Can you imagine? (Seattle fans, you better knock on wood.)
After being short on offensive skills in their inaugural season, the Kraken are using a balanced scoring attack to climb the standings. No Seattle player has hit the 10-goal mark this year, but newcomer Andre Burakovsky leads the way with 21 points and is supported by savvy rookie Matty Beniers (18 points) and reliable veteran Jordan Eberle (17 points).
And while the Kraken had trouble keeping the puck out of their net last season, Martin Jones has exceeded expectations after signing as a free agent. The 32-year-old has saved 5.1 goals above expected while putting up a record of 11-4-2 and a 2.58 goals-against average.
But here’s the crazy part. The Kraken have given up 60 goals in 21 games this season, an average of 2.86 goals per game. But one-third of those goals (20) have come while the team is shorthanded.
Seattle has been shorthanded for an average of exactly five minutes per game — a little over eight percent of the game, give or take overtime. But that window is where they’re giving up 33.3 percent of their goals — including three in their 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
When it comes to discipline, the Kraken do pretty well. They’re shorthanded an average of 3.14 times per game, which is the 10th-lowest in the league. But their penalty-killing success rate of 69.4 percent is fourth-worst, so those 20 power-play goals allowed are tied with Los Angeles, Chicago and Florida for fifth-most in the NHL.
Outside of their penalty-killing woes, the Kraken have been excellent defensively this season. At 5-on-5, they’re giving up just 1.95 goals against per 60 minutes. That’s sixth-best in the league and significantly better than the 2.34 expected goals against per 60 attributed to them by Natural Stat Trick.
- NHL Stat Pack: Bruins Streak, Blackhawks Slide and Kraken Surge
- Check all news and articles from the latest NHL updates.