With the official 2012-2013 NHL season starting a whopping 4 months late because of legal, union and disclaimer issues fans miraculously got the best available outcome from a labour dispute, a shortened season. 48 games played by each club isn’t that bad and it’s enough games for teams to make a statement and there were plenty in a short amount of time.
2013: Year of the Win Streak
This is not an official title but I figured it was fitting because a few teams had some great regular season success most notably the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks broke the record for most consecutive games without losing in regulation with 24 straight games (exactly half of this season) with either a win or overtime loss. That beats the previous record of 15 games that was set by the 2007 Anaheim Ducks who actually won the Stanley Cup that year. Later on the Pittsburgh Penguins tried beating their own record of most consecutive wins with 17 recorded in 1993 but they came just shy by winning 15 in a row which is still pretty darn impressive. Another notable streak was the hard working Columbus Blue Jackets’ 12 game point streak where they went 8-0-4 in March and that’s what made this playoff race one of the most interesting in a long time against Minnesota and divisional rival Detroit Red Wings. Another team that had a poor start but strong finish is the Washington Capitals who looked liked they were down and out decided to play some great hockey by winning 8 games in a row to secure the Southeast division and a much needed playoff birth. A couple of win streaks that need to be noted are the Vancouver Canucks’ 6 game win streak and the Anaheim Ducks’ 12 game point streak. Even though these records are great achievements, they mean absolutely nothing when playoffs come around.
Special teams mean a lot in determining an outcome in a game and if you’re good on the powerplay, you want to draw a lot of penalties and if you’re a good penalty killing team, you can gain great momentum after a successful kill but no team wants to kill penalties even though some teams are good at it.
I want to highlight the teams with good special teams so I am going to start with the powerplay and the team with the best PP were the Washington Capitals with 26.8%. The other top five teams in that department were the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens. The top penalty killing team this season were the Ottawa Senators with an 88% success rate. The other top PK teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Best Players And Goaltenders
There have been a ton of unsung and heroic goaltending performances this season and it is a fact that those teams the goalies played for wouldn’t be where they are without them. The best goaltending performance I have seen this season is from Craig Anderson. He is no doubt the Ottawa Senators most valued player and they wouldn’t of made the playoffs without him. His save percentage is .941 which is a league high plus he boasts the league’s best goals against average of 1.69. His winning record is just 12-9-2 but that’s because his team in front of him have been struggling to score goals. Another surprising goaltending performance I found amazing was Sergei Bobrovsky from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was the reason why his team’s playoff surge even started and he kept the resilient Blue Jackets alive every game he played in net. He only allowed an average of 2 goals a game and his save percentage was very high with an .932. Another great goaltending campaign was by Vezina trophy nominated Antti Niemi. He was tied with Niklas Backstrom for the league in wins with 24 and a lot of those wins came when he was the first star in all the Shark’s games. Unlike the other goaltenders I mentioned before, Niemi has a wealth of playoff experience and he knows what it takes to win because he has won the Stanley Cup before. A few more honourable mentions with unsung goaltending are Victor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks, Braden Holty from the Washington Capitals and Tuuka Rask from the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile superstars Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist still had pretty good seasons.
Unlike the unexpected goaltending performances we’ve seen, the player scoring race is what most people thought it would be. Not too many surprises here except the new record that was broken this year and that was by Tampa Bay’s very own Martin St. Louis for being the oldest player to win the scoring title at age 37. He scored 60 points in 48 games as he barely edged his sharpshooter teammate Steven Stamkos and a rejuvenated (and happily engaged to a famous tennis player) Alex Ovechkin who was 3rd in points and he led the league in goals with 32 and with most of them coming late in the season when Washington dominated as they made the playoffs as a 3rd seed. Sidney Crosby was 4th in points but he easily would of taken the point scoring title if it wasn’t for injuries. John Tavares, Taylor Hall, Nazem Kadri and Derek Stepan all enjoyed great breakthrough seasons as they nearly averaged a point a game. Players who rebounded nicely were Thomas Vanek, Mike Rebeiro, Ryan Getzlaf, Niklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane, Eric Staal and Alex Semin. Players on a slow decline are Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Joe Thornton, Brad Richards, Mike Richards, Jerome Iginla and Patrick Marleau.
For defence, scoring was led by P.K Subban with 38 points in 42 games, Kris Letang with 38 points in 35 games and Ryan Suter with 32 points in 48 games. Scoring was very good by defence this season with many of them going above half a point a game. 25 defenceman went above half a point a game while playing a good chunk of the year. As for the defensive aspect of the game, the better shutdown pairings this season were by Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray who played most of the year together, Kris Letang and Paul Martin were a great pairing, Jason Garrison did great for the Canucks and the entire Chicago Blackhawks top 6 was very good. Another honourable mention was Anton Stralman and Ryan Mcdonaugh as a good shutdown pair for the New York Rangers.
Shea Weber had a tough year as he didn’t thrive like he used to with Ryan Suter as his defensive partner.
I won’t go too far with disappointments but I got to say that the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Edmonton could of done better as I thought they were good enough teams to reach a playoff berth even though Philadelphia and Edmonton had very good special teams and Tampa Bay had players winning scoring titles. Last but not least the team with the worst powerplay were the Winnipeg Jets and the team with the worst penalty kill were the Florida Panthers.
So that sums it up. That was your basic outline of how this year went but I won’t get any further than this because it would take many, many days write every little last detail down and I won’t bore you into reading all that but you can always come back to read more articles at the Oilfield Hockey Blog.