We’re unofficially half way through the NHL season although only the Blues have played 40 games.
Nonetheless, New Year’s Day is a good opportunity to look back on 2015 and make some predictions about what we will likely see in the remainder of the season.
Jamie Benn Superstar
To me, the most remarkable performance of 2015 is the utter dominance being displayed by Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn. Let’s have a look:
2015 CALENDAR YEAR LEADERS
A look at the top team and individual performances of 2015 (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau):
1. Alex Ovechkin (81 GP): 57
2. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 48
3. Steven Stamkos (81 GP): 39
4. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 38
5. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 38
1. Erik Karlsson (84 GP): 59
2. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 59
3. Nicklas Backstrom (80 GP): 56
4. Henrik Sedin (83 GP): 55
5. P.K. Subban (84 GP): 55
1. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 48-59—107
2. Alex Ovechkin (81 GP): 57-28—85
3. Tyler Seguin (74 GP): 35-48—83
4. John Tavares (80 GP): 37-45—82
5. Daniel Sedin (85 GP): 28-54—82
6. Erik Karlsson (84 GP): 23-59—82
POINTS PER GAME (Minimum: 60 GP)
1. Patrick Kane (80 PTS in 63 GP): 1.27
2. Jamie Benn (107 PTS in 85 GP): 1.26
3. Tyler Seguin (83 PTS in 74 GP): 1.12
4. Alex Ovechkin (85 PTS in 81 GP): 1.05
5. John Tavares (82 PTS in 80 GP): 1.03
1. Alex Ovechkin (81 GP): 25
2. Justin Faulk (83 GP): 17
3. Steven Stamkos (81 GP): 16
4. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 16
5. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 15
1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (82 GP): 6
2. Brad Marchand (76 GP): 5
3. Blake Wheeler (78 GP): 4
4. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 4
5. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 4
1. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 12
2. Jonathan Toews (83 GP): 11
3. John Tavares (80 GP): 10
4. Alex Ovechkin (81 GP): 10
5. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 9
SHOTS ON GOAL
1. Alex Ovechkin (81 GP): 400
2. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 331
3. Brent Burns (80 GP): 296
4. Tyler Seguin (74 GP): 289
5. Rick Nash (80 GP): 288
1. Tyler Toffoli (75 GP): 31
2. Kevin Klein (58 GP): 26
3. Tobias Enstrom (75 GP): 27
4. Marc Methot (78 GP): 27
5. Jamie Benn (85 GP): 27
That’s right folks…Jamie Benn scored 107 points in 2015…22 more than second place finisher Alex Ovechkin.
That Benn is among the top 5 in both PP and SH goals while no other player made both lists, pretty much tells you just how good he is.
The Florida Panthers wrapped up 2015 in 1st place in their division and by handing GM Dale Tallon a multi year contract extension.
The Panthers success on the ice is also starting to draw fans to the rink with more than 18,000 in attendance for Tuesday’s win over Montreal.
Now that the team has received a solid financial commitment from Broward County, I expect they will become one of the NHL’s elite teams under Tallon.
Rising and Falling
The WC playoff participants have pretty much been decided with the exception two spots in the Pacific Division.
Let’s take a look on what is the most likely scenario to play out based on win% and remaining schedule.
SJS – .5277
ARZ – .527
ANA – .500
VCR – .487
CAL – .487
EDM – .423
San Jose and Anaheim are in the driver’s seat here with the fewest number of games played at 36 and, with Anaheim finally waking from an early season slumber they are making a move on the rest of the division with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10GP.
I expect they will catch Arizona within a couple of weeks and could even surpass San Jose unless the Sharks start to win at home where they’ve gone 5-10-0 so far.
By the middle of January it is highly likely that the 3 California teams have a stranglehold on the division leaving Arizona, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton fighting to avoid the basement.
Amongst that group, I believe only the Flames has a real chance to upset the apple cart with their ability to come back from adversity.
Vancouver, you could argue has been unlucky to be where they are since they have lost 9 games in overtime although there are more than a few Vancouver fans who argue that coach Wille Desjardins deployment in OT is the real culprit.
The Canucks have also been without 3 of their top 4 D for a while while also being hit with injuries goaltenders and forwards as well.
The odd thing about the Canucks schedule is they have had just brutal, multi game road trips and have played 22 games on the road compared to 16 at home so perhaps they can hang in there if they start winning more at home.
However, if they play like they did in their 5-0 loss to Los Angeles a couple of nights ago, they have no chance.
Arizona continues to surprise but I’m not convinced they’ll hang around much longer. Worth noting that have a -14 goal differential and, while that’s better than Vancouver, Anaheim, Calgary and Edmonton, it’s far worse than the Sharks and the Ducks has been improving game by game.
As for the Oilers, all they have to look forward to is the return of Connor McDavid which appears imminent. But let’s remember that the Oilers were 4W – 9L WITH McDavid in the lineup and their problems are with a shitty D corp and inconsistent goaltending. McDavid doesn’t play those positions.
Playoff Chances from Sports Club Stats:
And just how good are the Dallas Stars?
Their playoff chances now sit at 99.9% and if, as some folks think, the playoff cutoff in the WC this season will be around 86 points, the Stars could finish the season up with a record of 12-28-3 and still make the post season.
And, to allay the recent post from a commenter that the Stars will fail once they play more again the Central Division, the Stars are 7-2-1 in their own division and 13-3-1 against the WC.
THAT is how you win the west.
Next time, let’s take an early look at which players deserve to be all stars.