One stat that sums up each NHL team’s season heading into the final week


Leaky defenses, bad records against bad teams and superstars whose individual excellence has made up for gaps elsewhere.

Those were among the answers The Athletic received this week when it asked its NHL staff for a stat to sum up each team’s season heading into the final week.

What’s the defining number for your favorite team? Here are all 32 answers.

(Note: Stats through Thursday night)


425 penalties taken: You could bring up a series of statistics to explain what’s gone wrong, but the conga line to the penalty box has been as dooming as anything. Those 425 trips are the most in the NHL — 19 more than the next most penalized team (Florida) and 184 more than the least penalized (Vegas). It hasn’t been a slew of major penalties, either, as the Ducks have been whistled for the most minors in the league (364), putting them short-handed a league-most 318 times through Thursday’s action. When you add in a 31st-ranked penalty kill that’s only been successful 72.6 percent of the time, they’re doubling down on defeating themselves. It’s a lowdown dirty shame as the Ducks have made progress at five-on-five, at least defensively. — Eric Stephens

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13-21-5 road record: First, the good news: After winning just seven road games all of last season, the Coyotes improved (marginally) away from the Mullett Arena. But this record still ranks fourth from the bottom behind only San Jose, Chicago and Columbus. The Coyotes were a plus-.500 team at home a season ago and will be a plus-.500 team at home again this season, but like a lot of young teams, they struggle when they’re away. It’s something that needs to improve, no matter where they’re playing home games next year, Arizona or Salt Lake City. — Eric Duhatschek

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114 combined points for Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha: The biggest question regarding the 2023-24 Bruins was how they would respond to the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. It wasn’t because of how well the franchise staples had played a season ago. It was because Coyle and Zacha, their replacements, hadn’t previously been top-two centers in their careers. But with three regular-season games left, Coyle (58 points) and Zacha (56) have matched Bergeron (58) and Krejci (56) from last year. — Fluto Shinzawa

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95 first-period goals allowed: Through 79 games, that’s the worst total in the NHL. Buffalo’s 28th-ranked power play contributed to a major scoring dropoff, as well, but the Sabres’ inability to start games fast led to them playing October, November and December at a 73-point pace. They never dug out of that hole. — Matthew Fairburn

17.4 percent power play: The Flames were supposed to have an improved power play — and an improved offense overall — after Darryl Sutter’s departure last offseason. Their offensive players figured to have a bit more room for creativity and flair, which would be evident on a power play led by Marc Savard. Instead, struggles in movement, finishing and skill have led to a regression. There’s been some improvement in recent games, but their power play is still among the league’s worst. — Julian McKenzie

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26.9 percent power play: The Hurricanes’ penalty kill has been elite throughout Rod Brind’Amour’s tenure as coach, and this season has seen the power play perform equally well. Entering the final three games of the season, Carolina’s power play is tied for second in the league, with both Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis scoring 11 goals with the man advantage. It’s the first time since 2009-10 — when Eric Staal had 13 power-play goals and Jussi Jokinen 10 — that the Hurricanes have had multiple players hit double digits. Coupled with the league’s top-ranked penalty kill (86.4 percent), the power play gives Carolina the best special teams in the league. — Cory Lavalette

Chicago Blackhawks

13 shutouts: No statistic better illustrates the Blackhawks’ woes this season than how many times they’ve been shut out, including 10 times in their past 34 games. Among the rest of the league, only Anaheim (10 shutouts) is even in double-digits. Even with Connor Bedard at the top of the lineup, no team in the NHL has a more futile offense than Chicago’s, which is averaging just 2.18 goals per game. The Blackhawks have just two 20-goal scorers (Bedard and Jason Dickinson). Dallas, for comparison’s sake, has eight. — Mark Lazerus

Nathan MacKinnon’s 116 speed bursts of 22-plus mph: At this point, everyone is well aware of MacKinnon’s incredible season, which has him now nearing 140 points. There’s one metric tracked by the league’s player-tracking technology that explains MacKinnon’s brilliance better than any. The NHL tracks how many times a player has exceeded 22 miles per hour on the ice this season, and MacKinnon leads all players by a wide, wide margin. For context, Connor McDavid led all players with 81 last season and is second with 65 this year, barely more than half of MacKinnon’s total. The speed at which MacKinnon plays is what makes him and the Avalanche such a frightening opponent come playoff time. — Jesse Granger

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Columbus Blue Jackets

90 different line combinations: This figured to be a chaotic season for the Blue Jackets lineup with so many new faces and so many young players. That’s exactly how it played out. We’ve tracked the lines at the start of games this season, and — with two games still to play — coach Pascal Vincent has used 90 different lineup combinations. Take top forward Johnny Gaudreau, for instance. He’s played with five different centers — Patrik Laine, Adam Fantilli, Boone Jenner, Cole Sillinger, Dmitry Voronkov — spending most of those games with Jenner. He’s also played with 11 different right wingers — Laine, Sillinger, Voronkov, Justin Danforth, Kirill Marchenko, Jack Roslovic, Yegor Chinakhov, Emil Bemstrom, Alexandre Texier, Kent Johnson and Alex Nylander. In that sense, is it really that shocking that Gaudreau has a career-low 11 goals this season? — Aaron Portzline

Dallas Stars

Eight 20-plus-goal scorers: The most consistent contributor to the Stars’ success has been the offense, which ranks third in the league at 3.63 goals per game. It’s not just the scoring that’s unique, though, but even more so how the Stars have gotten there. NHL sophomore Wyatt Johnston, 22, leads the Stars with 32 goals even though he’s primarily the third-line center. The top line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski fills out the next three slots, then the second line of Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene and Mason Marchment. Jamie Benn is tied with Marchment with 21 goals, giving the Stars eight 20-goal scorers for the first time in franchise history. To top it off, Thomas Harley is ninth on the team with 15 goals, which is tied for eighth in the NHL among defensemen. — Saad Yousuf

3.30 goals against per game: The Red Wings have already blown past their 2022-23 goals total (237) with 263 — a reflection of their concerted effort to add more scoring last offseason. And in many ways, it worked, getting them into the thick of a playoff race right down to the wire. They’re a top-10 scoring team in the league. The problem is, they’ve given all that scoring back the other direction, allowing 3.3 goals against per game, the ninth-worst mark in the league. No playoff team is below them in the category. It’s not just the defensemen, either. The Red Wings’ forwards have created plenty of odd-man rushes against and blown coverages, and their goalies have been up and down. If Detroit does indeed miss the playoffs, its inability to consistently keep pucks out of the net will be the biggest reason. — Max Bultman

Calvin Pickard’s .913 save percentage: The Oilers were an absolute mess when Jack Campbell was waived and demoted in early November. Pickard, his replacement as the backup to the struggling Stuart Skinner, was seen as nothing more than a stopgap before Campbell was recalled or the Oilers could find someone else. But then a funny thing happened: Coach Kris Knoblauch started using Pickard. Sure, there have been a few dips, but the journeyman pro has provided stable netminding in the form of a .913 save percentage heading into Friday’s start against the Coyotes and provided Skinner some extra rest heading into the playoffs. — Daniel Nugent-Bowman

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56.98 percent goal share: In all situations, the Panthers are tops in the league in goals-for percentage, per Natural Stat Trick, which speaks to the depth of their offensive talent, the improved defensive play we’ve seen throughout the season and a top-10 power play that features Sam Reinhart, the league leader in power-play goals with 27. A season after making a run to the Stanley Cup Final, they’ve gotten even better. — Sean Gentille

Seven players who’ve hit the 40-point mark: It’s not a unique statistic by any means, as 10 other teams have seven. But it does speak to how balanced the Kings are and how they’ve been built that way. There’s no 100-point scorer in their group, with their three leaders being Adrian Kempe (72 points), Kevin Fiala (71) and Anze Kopitar (70). Offense is a collective approach in L.A., and it’s helped garner a playoff berth for the third straight season. And if PL Dubois grabs another point, the Kings will join five other teams with eight 40-point guys. Now if they can only rev up his engine for the playoffs. — Eric Stephens

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74.3 percent penalty kill: The Wild’s 30th-ranked penalty kill has been a killer from start to finish. Their 66 power-play goals allowed rank second in the NHL. Coach John Hynes knows there are fundamental flaws with the PK, and he feels a full training camp will be beneficial to hammer home details. But the Wild also need saves. They have the eighth-worst expected goals against while short-handed (9.75 against per 60). Collectively, Wild goalies have an .854 save percentage when short-handed (26th in the NHL). — Michael Russo

20 goals and 50 points: Juraj Slafkovský is on the verge of hitting the 20-goal and 50-point milestones. Had that been his production over the entirety of his sophomore NHL season, that would have been pretty good. But if he can hit those marks despite starting the season with two goals and five assists in his first 29 games, it would make it that much more meaningful as an indicator of what’s to come for the 2022 No. 1 overall pick. — Arpon Basu

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3.20 goals per game: That’s up from 2.72 goals per game last season, the final season of the John Hynes era, and that’s the clearest indication of the difference Andrew Brunette has made. Yes, the additions of Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist to form a lethal top line with Filip Forsberg merit mention along with Brunette. But the Preds also parted ways with Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter from last season’s team. This is systematic improvement, backed up as well by the Preds sitting seventh in the NHL in expected-goals-for share. — Joe Rexrode

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.896 save percentage: The Devils have had a disappointing season for myriad reasons, but goaltending is likely the biggest. Vitek Vanecek couldn’t replicate his solid 2022-23 season and got offloaded at the deadline, and while Nico Daws and Akira Schmid both have promise, neither was ready to carry the load. General manager Tom Fitzgerald’s attempts to help the situation (adding Kaapo Kahkonen and Jake Allen at the deadline) came too late to make enough of a difference, and he will look to take a big swing at acquiring a premier goalie this offseason. — Peter Baugh

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The Devils saw Vitek Vanecek looking back into his net too many times in 2023-24. (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

16:38 per game trailing: The amount of time the Islanders are behind on average ranks eighth in the league, less than the Rangers, Stars and Avalanche, three of the top eight teams in the league. And yet the Isles still needed a late-season burst and lots of help to even get into the playoff mix. What gives? To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, the Islanders know how to take a lead, they just don’t know how to hold a lead. And holding the lead really is the most important thing. — Arthur Staple

New York Rangers

Four times with two or more regulation losses in a row: The Rangers have done a remarkable job not letting losses stack on top of each other. They have had only four regulation losing streaks of two or more games. Other than those stretches, which until this week all came in December and January, they’ve been resilient and found ways to get at least one point (and usually two) after a bad game. That bodes well for the playoffs, when it’s crucial to bounce back from losses. — Peter Baugh

4-33-2 in games in which their goalies have sub-.900 save percentage: There are far too many poor defensive and goaltending stats to choose from with the Senators this season. The fact that their goalies gave up a goal on the first or second shot of a game on 21 separate occasions is kind of mind-boggling. But their record in games in which their goalies delivered a sub-.900 save percentage paints as good a picture as any as to why the Senators will be missing the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. In the 39 games — or nearly half their season — Ottawa received sub.-900 performances, they only managed to win four. Put another way, consider this: Ottawa received a .900 save percentage or better in 40 games this season. Their record in those games? 31-7-2. — Ian Mendes

.888 save percentage: The biggest reason for the Flyers’ dramatic collapse from playoff contention has been their inability to get saves. Samuel Ersson was a solid second option to Carter Hart up until Hart left the team, but he has struggled with what became significant workload. He’s worn out. Complicating matters is that the Flyers have tried several backups, but none of Felix Sandstrom, Cal Petersen or Ivan Fedotov has shown to be reliable enough to ease the burden on Ersson. — Kevin Kurz

14.2 percent power play: Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Kris Letang. Erik Karlsson. With those four players — future Hockey Hall of Famers in all likelihood — it was presumed the Penguins could send out anybody else on the power play and fall into a top-10 unit. And for much of the season, it wasn’t merely anybody else: the other power-play option was Jake Guentzel. But by the time Guentzel was traded, the Penguins’ woe on the man advantage had reached such depth that Malkin and Karlsson were working the second unit, and both units were wretched. It’s been a mystery — one that for a long while looked like it would cost them a playoff spot. Still might. But it’s not as though their recent uptick has been because the power play is good. It’s just become something they’ve overcome. — Rob Rossi

San Jose Sharks

Minus-135: No team has a worse goal differential. Not dreadful Chicago, not woeful Anaheim or Columbus. It’s reflective of the Sharks’ roster and the lack of high-end talent on both sides of the puck. There hasn’t been all-world netminding to plug all the holes. The good thing is they won’t touch the minus-196 mark from their 11-win second season as a franchise. But we’re not going to make this post all negative. Hats off to 26-year-old goalie Devin Cooley, a product of suburban Los Gatos and the Jr. Sharks program, who not only won his first NHL game in front of the home crowd but delivered a brilliant 49-save effort to beat Seattle on Thursday for his second win. After four years in the minors, Cooley is seizing his moment. — Eric Stephens

Seattle Kraken

205 goals: After a dream second campaign in which the Kraken led the NHL in shooting percentage at five-on-five and ransacked their way to within a win of the conference final, they just couldn’t find enough scoring in Year 3. Only the Blackhawks, Sharks and Ducks have scored fewer goals than Seattle. It was just too much to overcome, even as Joey Daccord stabilized Seattle’s play in net from midseason on and the club continued to play a strong, high-tempo two-way game with a deceptively dangerous power play. — Thomas Drance

0-2-1 against the Sharks: The Blues look likely to finish a few points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and if they do, they don’t have to look any further than their season series against San Jose as to why. The Blues were 0-2-1 against the lowly Sharks in 2023-24 and outscored a combined 12-3 (5-1, 4-0 and 3-2 in OT) in those three games. Meanwhile, the Blues were 0-2 against Columbus and lost another game to Chicago, so including San Jose, there were 11 potential points lost against three bottom-five teams. That has proved costly. — Jeremy Rutherford

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Nikita Kucherov’s 141 points: Kucherov leads the league in scoring and has been the Lightning’s engine. That’s why he is one of the four leaders in this year’s Hart Trophy race and why this team is still playoff caliber. The Lightning’s supporting cast has been depleted over the years, making their core players all the more important. While Victor Hedman and Brayden Point have kicked it into gear in the second half, some of their cornerstones are still lacking a bit. That puts even more emphasis on Kucherov’s game-changing play, and he hasn’t disappointed. — Shayna Goldman

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Auston Matthews’ 68 goals: How could it be anything else? Matthews has scored like no one else in decades, putting together one of the greatest goal-scoring seasons by anyone, ever. As a team, the Leafs have played a lot better in the second half than they did in the first. But they can’t do it without a player who basically scores every single night. And that’s not an exaggeration: Matthews has 54 goals in 57 games since the beginning of December, an 82-game pace of 78. I keep wondering how many fewer wins the Leafs would have if Matthews were having a normal (by his standards) kind of season, with 10 fewer goals. Twelve? Fifteen? — Jonas Siegel

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102.8 PDO: You can’t tell the story of the 2023-24 Canucks without starting at PDO. PDO doesn’t stand for anything. It’s a somewhat passe statistic developed on hockey analytics message boards in the mid-aughts that simply combines a team’s five-on-five save and shooting percentages. A blunt instrument to measure “luck,” over time it should regress toward 100. That’s not to say it’s all been luck for the Canucks. Vancouver improved enormously as a structural defensive team in Rick Tocchet’s first full season as coach, and high-level stars like Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller are performing exceptionally. But they were also the highest PDO team we’d ever seen through the first 49 games. At the All-Star break, per Natural Stat Trick, they were scoring on nearly 12 percent of shots with .927 goaltending for an unheard of 104.5 PDO. Since the All-Star break, though, Vancouver’s luck has dramatically changed. In fact, their PDO is 100 exactly over the past 30 games. Still, overall they are tied with the Bruins for the highest PDO in the league. As the club prepares to host its first playoff game in nearly a decade, can they get the PDO machine cranked up again? — Thomas Drance

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J.T. Miller has 36 goals and 101 points this season, both career highs. (Elsa / Getty Images)

Jonathan Marchessault’s 41 goals: Over the past seven seasons, Marchessault has always been there when the Golden Knights need it most. This season was no different for the defending Conn Smythe winner. With captain Mark Stone out with a lacerated spleen and Jack Eichel missing months with knee surgery, Marchessault stepped up his offensive game to a level we had never seen. He flew by his previous career high of 30 goals and needs only two more to match Vegas’ franchise record. He’s one of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights have remained above the playoff cut line despite a barrage of injuries. — Jesse Granger

11 wins in one-goal games: That’s how many wins the Caps have in the 13 one-goal games they’ve played. Three of their past four wins have been by a single goal. If you were wondering why they’re still in the thick of the playoff hunt, that’s your explanation. They’re 28th in goals per game and have an overall goal differential of minus-42, but the goals they do score, they’re scoring at the right time. — Sean Gentille

194 goals against: Coach Rick Bowness was hired in 2022 to take a porous defensive team that gave up the 13th most goals in the league despite Connor Hellebuyck’s presence in goal and chart its course back to the playoffs. Bowness switched things up on defense from a man-to-man/zone hybrid to a full zone that focuses on the guts of the ice and, perhaps more importantly, seems to have generated more buy-in to the requisite sweat equity than previous Jets coaches did. Last season, Winnipeg’s goals against skyrocketed from 13th worst to 10th best. Now they’re first in the entire NHL and, while structural lapses continue to chip away at Winnipeg’s early-season excellence, the team is worlds better defensively. That’s why the Jets are a playoff team and a dark-horse contender when they’re committed to their game. — Murat Ates

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(Top photos of Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov: Elsa, Claus Andersen and Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)





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