NHL Trendsetter for Week of February 12, 2011

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Putting the puck in the other team’s net is a good thing, but keeping it out of your own goal is usually a recipe that Stanley Cup contenders possess. Participating in high-scoring games doesn’t necessarily translate into being high in the standings.

Looking at the Don Best Sports NHL statistical page, it is interesting to note that only one of the top five teams leading the league in most games going ‘over’ the total is sitting on top of their division standings.

The Central Division-leading Detroit Red Wings are that one team, with the ‘over’ going 28-26-0 in their first 54 outings. However, it is interesting to note that the ‘over’ is 17-11 in Detroit’s first 28 home dates, while the ‘under’ is 15-11 in the club’s first 26 road encounters.

Mike Babcock’s Wings are averaging 3.2 goals per game, which is third in the league. Much of that offense has occurred during the power play, where they have enjoyed a 20.5 percent success rate (6th).

Ironically, the Wings have not seen an offensive drought till recently despite playing most of the last two months without injured players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary, Mike Modano and Thomas Holmstrom.


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The Wings recently suffered back-to-back shutout losses against the Blue Jackets and Predators. They scored just one goal during Wednesday’s 4-1 home loss against Nashville with Datsyuk and Holmstrom back in the lineup.

Defense has been Detroit’s problem through the first half of the season. The squad is allowing 2.9 GPG, which is a poor 20th. The Wings had yielded three goals or more in eight of their last 10 games heading into Friday’s contest at Boston.

The Colorado Avalanche have amassed the most ‘over’ games at 33-20-1. Most of that damage has occurred at home, where the ‘over’ is 21-9. The Avs are sixth in the league offensively, averaging 3.0 goals per game. Unfortunately, they are last defensively, allowing a bloated 3.3 GPG.

Much of the defensive problems have occurred when the Avs are shorthanded. They have a pitiful 77.9 percent success rate on the penalty kill, which ranks 27th.

Colorado has yielded three goals or more in nine straight games and four goals or more in half of its last eight outings.

The leaky defense is the main reason the Avs are sitting in fourth place in the Northwest Division, 23 points behind the Vancouver Canucks.

The Phoenix Coyotes have seen the ‘over’ go 32-22-2 through their first 56 encounters, including 17-9-1 at home. Though the Coyotes are outscoring the opposition by just one goal this season (159-158), they have managed to jump nine games above .500.

The Coyotes’ slim goal discrepancy is reflected in identical offensive and defensive numbers, as they are scoring and allowing 2.8 goals per game. The offense is good for a 12th-place ranking, while the defense is just 16th.

A couple of third place teams found in the Don Best Sports standings page round out the top-five ‘over’ achievers.

The Buffalo Sabres have seen the ‘over’ go 28-22-2 through 52 contests. It also doesn’t seem to matter where the Sabres are playing. The ‘over’ is 14-12-1 on the road and 14-10-1 at home. The Sabres are three games above .500 despite allowing one more goal than they have scored (153-152).

The ‘over’ is 30-25-1 in Atlanta’s first 56 efforts. However, most of those numbers have been collected on enemy ice where the ‘over’ is 19-9. The Thrashers are two games above .500 despite getting outscored 183-162. Atlanta owns the league’s second poorest penalty killing unit with a 76 percent success rate.

- Barry Daniels, DonBest.com

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