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’ve got a look at four players whose offensive output has been sharply consistent, the areas where the New York Rangers are sagging and where they’re maintaining as they fight to stay in the playoff picture and how Brady Tkachuk tied Gordie Howe for Gordie Howe hat tricks.
Let’s get to it.
The Good: Marner, Robertson, Kaprizov and Stamkos Extend Their Point Streaks
Mitch Marner made headlines on Saturday night when he set a new Toronto Maple Leafs franchise record with points in 19 straight games. In the Leafs’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, he opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally, then helped send the game to 3-on-3 thanks to an unassisted power-play equalizer with 9:05 remaining in regulation.
All told, Marner has nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points during his streak, and 31 points for the year.
This type of consistency is part of the reason why scoring league-wide is up to its highest level since the 1993-94 season, with clubs currently averaging 3.20 goals per game
Heading into Tuesday’s game, three other players are also riding double-digit point streaks:
Jason Robertson is up to 21 goals and 13 assists for 34 points in 18 games. He’s two games shy of the all-time Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise mark (Brian Bellows, 29 points in 20 games in 1985-86), and is now five goals away from matching the highest-scoring point streak of all time (Sidney Crosby, 26 goals in 25 games in 2010-11).
Kirill Kaprizov has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in his last 12 games. He has already set a new Minnesota Wild franchise record for consecutive games with an assist — 11 assists in nine games in a streak that ended on Dec. 1. Kaprizov currently sits tied for the Wild franchise record in games with a goal (six) as well as games with a point (12). The point-streak record was previously set by Mikael Granlund in 2016-17 and tied by Kevin Fiala in 2021-22. This is the second time in his three NHL seasons that Kaprizov has put together a six-game goal streak; he also accomplished the feat late last season.
With a power-play assist on Saturday night, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning extended his current point streak to 10 games, where he has six goals and 10 assists. Stamkos, 32, was honored before Saturday’s game for reaching the 1,000-point plateau in his 945th career game. He already holds the Lightning’s franchise record for the longest point streak, with 17 goals and 16 assists in 18 games during the 2009-10 season when he shared the Rocket Richard Trophy with Sidney Crosby (51 goals each).
On Tuesday, Marner and Robertson will look to extend their streaks as they go head-to-head when the Leafs visit the Stars in Dallas. Also on Tuesday, Stamkos and the Lightning will host the Detroit Red Wings. Kaprizov and the Wild continue their four-game road trip in Calgary on Wednesday.
The Bad: Rangers Risk Falling Out of Playoff Picture
The New York Rangers picked up just their second win in their last seven games when they rallied from a 4-3 deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Monday night.
The two points give the Blueshirts a record of 12-10-5 for 29 points, slotting them into fifth place in the Metropolitan Division and just below the second wild-card spot that’s currently held by the Detroit Red Wings — also with 29 points, but with three games in hand.
Last season, the Rangers’ 5-on-5 play was shaky: Natural Stat Trick ranked them 24th in the league in expected goals share at 5-on-5, at 47.04 percent. But they were able to ride otherwordly goaltending from Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin and a league-leading 26 power-play goals from Chris Kreider all the way to the Eastern Conference final.
Last year, the Rangers’ power play was fourth-best in the league, with a success rate of 25.2 percent. This year, it has slipped to 19th, averaging 21.4 percent. Both Mika Zibanejad (eight) and Vincent Trocheck (five) have more man-advantage goals than Kreider (four).
And Shesterkin has gone from historically incredible, with his .935 save percentage last season, to merely “quite good” at a better-than-league-average .910 this year. The 26-year-old is heaping pressure on himself, talking about how he has been “ashamed” of his play. But last year, he was stealing games that the Rangers had no business winning. This year, at 11-4-4, he’s still doing his job — just as Kreider is “only” scoring at a close to 40-goal pace, which would be an easy career high if not for his stunning 52-goal performance last season.
The funny part is that the Rangers’ 5-on-5 structure, the perceived weakness of coach Gerard Gallant, is actually much improved this season — up to 11th place with 52.74 percent of expected goals controlled at 5-on-5. But that hasn’t been enough to cover for Shesterkin’s regression to merely human levels of goaltending. New York is giving up nearly half a goal more per game this season (2.93 vs. 2.49 last year).
And while the Rangers’ power-play percentage has dropped, they’re drawing more penalties this season. Their overall scoring is level with last season at just over three goals a game, and they’re actually scoring 0.70 goals per game on the power-play this year, up slightly from 0.67 in 2021-22.
But if the Rangers want to build off last season’s success, Step 1 is getting into the playoffs. And from where they sit in early December, that’s far from guaranteed. moneypuck.com has their odds of reaching the dance at just 31.8 percent as of Tuesday.
Over the next 10 days, the Blueshirts will travel west for dates against Vegas and Colorado before returning home to play New Jersey and Toronto. They’ll need to steal some points from those tough matchups just to stay within striking distance in the east.
The Intriguing: Brady Tkachuk’s Gordie Howe Hat Trick
Speaking of the Rangers, they were on the wrong end of Brady Tkachuk’s second career Gordie Howe hat trick last Friday, when the Ottawa Senators skated out of Madison Square Garden with a 3-2 overtime win.
Though Gordie Howe was as renowned for his toughness as much as his scoring skill during his playing days, it’s surprising that he actually recorded only two Gordie Howe hat tricks (a goal, an assist and a fight) during his own NHL career, which spanned 1,767 games.
There’s no official record book for Gordie Howe hat tricks, but players from the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em ’90s were well-suited as dual threats. And whether it was TNT broadcast analyst Rick Tocchet, Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan or Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, many of the most prominent suspects are still playing important roles in our game today.
Brady’s dad, Keith Tkachuk, also fit the archetype of a “Gordie” player in the ’90s, peaking with four seasons of at least 40 goals and three with over 200 penalty minutes. So Brady comes by it honestly — and since he’s on track to set new career highs this year in goals, points and penalty minutes, it seems safe to expect more Gordie Howe hat tricks ahead for Ottawa’s captain.
- NHL Stat Pack: Streaks, Sags and the Gordie Howe Hat Trick
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