The Hockeycentric Top-10: Statistical Overachievers
Mike Peca lookalike Matt Moulson gives the glove tap to Mark "Streit-as-an-arrow". Photo: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Statistics often tell the truth, but they rarely tell the whole story.
When hockey fans of the future look at the numbers, they might think Matt Moulson was a budding superstar. That is, unless they read this list first…
Here are the ten players who are better represented by the numbers than on the ice.
10. Jimmy Howard — 37 Wins, .924 SV%, 2.26 GAA
Playing in a well-established system that has been designed to shelter goaltenders, Howard put up numbers that have made him a dark horse contender for the Calder Trophy. The Red Wings helped Chris Osgood to a .914 save percentage and a 2.09 goals against average two just seasons ago, which makes you wonder just how much the Red Wings’ team concept played into Jimmy Howard’s stellar rookie numbers.
9. Alex Burrows — 35 Goals
While we do give Alex Burrows credit because he cares about his teammates and the fans, his profile has been raised considerably — along with his statistical output — after finding himself taking a regular shift with the Sedins. As a result, he finished 10th in goal scoring, in a league where he’d be ranked outside of the top-30 in terms of talented finishers.
8. Jussi Jokinen — 30 Goals, 65 Points
One of the lone bright spots in a down year for the Hurricanes, Jussi Jokinen found his scoring touch with a shooting percentage of 18.8%, which was 25th best in the league. He’ll certainly be sought after in pools next year, but don’t assume that he’s set the pace for the prime of his career. Jokinen will more likely average around 20 goals and 50 points rather than 30 and 65.
7. Joni Pitkanen — 1st in TOI/G – 27:22
The premier defensemen in the National Hockey League are quite frequently top minute munchers as well, skilled and physically sound enough to be put on the ice in any situation. Strangely, Joni Pitkanen was first in the league in ice time per game this year, finishing ahead of such studs as Keith, Niedermayer, Pronger, Bouwmeester and Boyle. His talent shouldn’t warrant such ice time.
6. Troy Brouwer — 7 Game-Winning Goals
Scoring seven game winners tied Brouwer for fourth in that category league-wide. More of a mucker than a finisher, Brouwer managed 22 goals in ‘09-10, meaning nearly one third of his goals were game-deciding. What can we attribute to Brouwer’s propensity to score at the right time? He spent a significant chunk of time with Kane and Toews, and had lots of opportunities for game-winners as the Hawks finished with 52 wins.
5. Matt Carle — Plus-19
Beyond Chris Pronger’s plus-22 and Matt Carle’s plus-19, the next best Philadelphia Flyer in that category was Blair Betts at plus-7. Pronger and Carle played as a pairing for most of the season, and it should be fairly obvious to most that it wasn’t Carle elevating Pronger’s game, but in fact the very opposite.
4. Lee Stempniak — 28 Goals
The former St. Louis Blue was a ghost for nearly two seasons in Toronto, scoring 14 goals in 62 games with the Maple Leafs in ‘09-10 prior to being acquired at the deadline by the Coyotes. Stempniak then scored 14 goals in 18 games with the Coyotes, equalling his Toronto totals in 48 less games and finishing with a respectable total of 28. This inflated number should make him an attractive free agent for teams in non-hockey markets.
3. Matt Moulson — 30 Goals
For a player who had not hit the 30-goal mark since his last year of Junior B hockey, Moulson scored 14 goals in his first 28 games of ‘09-10 as a relatively anonymous 26-year-old free agent pickup. Maybe the opposition was just paying way too much attention to John Tavares…
2. Jose Theodore — 30-7-7 Record
For the second consecutive year, Theodore has entered the playoffs as starter and been replaced after a poor showing by Semyon Varlamov. Theodore isn’t regarded by many as a top-20 NHL goaltender, which is supported by his 2.81 goals against average, which doesn’t at all match up with his win/loss record of ‘09-10.
1. Jeff Schultz — Plus-50
Schultz has established himself as a competent defensive defenseman in the last two seasons, but the credit he receives playing for the offensive powerhouse Washington Capitals is a bit much. The Caps have seven other players who are plus-20 or greater, a team goal differential of plus-85, and were the only team to eclipse the 300 goal mark. Perhaps more importantly, Schultz spent the season playing with a point-per-game defense partner named Mike Green.