Cullen: Three-Quarters Award Races and Advanced Stats

Scott Cullen

2/25/2011 5:43:04 PM

Three-quarters of the way through the NHL season, a look at awards races, along with some advanced stats.

Feel free to compare to my first-quarter results. The midway results were hijacked by life events so, with the trade deadline just around the corner (on the other side of this weekend, in fact), it's time to take stock of what's been happening in the league.

Winner: Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay
Runners-up: Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver; Tim Thomas, Boston

With injuries derailing bids from Sidney Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk, and Ryan Kesler perhaps the next closest candidate as a skater, Thomas' exceptional goaltending earns him a place at the table. Fair to say that no one is running away with this award.

Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Runners-up: Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta; Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

Admittedly, Lidstrom's even plus-minus is well below his normal levels, but the 40-year-old continues to take on the toughest assignments on a night-in, night-out basis. Challengers like Letang and the Thrashers duo of Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien have had strong seasons, and play slightly more than Lidstrom's 23:40 per game, but don't face the same level of competition. This race is still open for contenders if someone like Keith Yandle or Shea Weber makes a furious charge to the finish.

Winner: Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago
Runners-up: Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver; Henrik Zetterberg, LW, Detroit

Toews and Zetterberg both face an elite level of competition on a nightly basis, with Toews holding a slight edge in categories like shot differential and plus-minus, while Kesler is having a tremendous season, providing more offence than ever before, leading to his career-best plus-23.

Winner: Tim Thomas, Boston
Runners-up: Pekka Rinne, Nashville; Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota

As long as Thomas has an historically-great .939 save percentage, this is a one-horse race.

Winner: Corey Crawford, G, Chicago
Runners-up: Logan Couture, C, San Jose; Jeff Skinner, RW, Carolina

Crawford has taken the Blackhawks' starting job and owns an impressive 2.11 goals against average and .923 save percentage. Looking for a younger rookie? Couture and Skinner have both been tremendous; perhaps a slight edge right now to Couture for more goals and a better plus-minus.

Winner: Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay
Runners-up: Dave Tippett, Phoenix; Scott Arniel, Columbus

Perhaps not surprisingly, first-year coaches are having an immediate effect on their new teams, but have to include Tippett again. Barry Trotz and Todd Richards surely warrant consideration too.

And now, some deeper stats from the ever-outstanding

First, the best goal differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 40 games played):

1. Adam McQuaid D Boston 2.35
2. Sidney Crosby C Pittsburgh 1.85
3. Pavel Datsyuk C Detroit 1.83
4. Daniel Sedin LW Vancouver 1.82
5. Alex Burrows RW Vancouver 1.75
6. Brad Marchand LW Boston 1.72
7. Patrice Bergeron C Boston 1.65
8. Ville Leino LW Philadelphia 1.61
9. Henrik Sedin C Vancouver 1.60
10. Nathan Horton RW Boston 1.52
11. Jeff Carter RW Philadelphia 1.51
12. David Krejci C Boston 1.50
13. Dan Hamhuis D Vancouver 1.49
14. Brian Campbell D Chicago 1.48
15. Milan Lucic LW Boston 1.47
16. Alex Goligoski D Dallas 1.44
17. Alexander Semin RW Washington 1.43
18. Kevin Bieksa D Vancouver 1.40
19. Mark Recchi RW Boston 1.37
20. Jonathan Toews C Chicago 1.36

Given the Bruins and Canucks' stingy defensive play, it's not surprising that they are dominating this measure, but Adam McQuaid as the far-and-away leader, really? Well, he is plus-23 and plays 13:20 per game.

On the other hand, the worst goal differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 40 games played):

477. Todd Marchant C Anaheim -1.26
478. Eric Nystrom RW Minnesota -1.27
479. Brian Sutherby C Dallas -1.29
480. Kevin Westgarth LW Los Angeles -1.29
481. Nick Foligno LW Ottawa -1.29
482. James Wisniewski D Montreal -1.29
483. Dominic Moore C Tampa Bay -1.31
484. Tyler Bozak C Toronto -1.32
485. Chad LaRose LW Carolina -1.34
486. Steve Bernier RW Florida -1.34
487. Brad Richardson RW Los Angeles -1.38
488. Chris Phillips D Ottawa -1.40
489. Dennis Wideman D Florida -1.42
490. David Clarkson RW New Jersey -1.52
491. Matt Martin LW N.Y. Islanders -1.57
492. Rob Schremp C N.Y. Islanders -1.71
493. Simon Gagne LW Tampa Bay -1.82
494. Filip Kuba D Ottawa -1.93
495. Brandon Crombeen RW St. Louis -1.93
496. Adam Mair C New Jersey -2.24

A wider selection of teams represented at this point in the season, but plenty of disappointment to go around. Worth noting that Wisniewski has been better since moving from the Islanders to the Canadiens.

Going beyond the goals, and perhaps eliminating team goaltending from the evaluation, a look at the best shot differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 40 games played):

1. Mikael Backlund C Calgary 11.9
2. Viktor Stalberg LW Chicago 11.8
3. Ryan Malone LW Tampa Bay 10.1
4. Nathan Gerbe LW Buffalo 9.5
5. Jack Skille RW Florida 9.3
6. Tyler Kennedy RW Pittsburgh 9.2
7. Brian Gionta RW Montreal 9.2
8. Evgeni Malkin RW Pittsburgh 9.2
9. Ryane Clowe LW San Jose 9.2
10. Patrik Elias LW New Jersey 8.9
11. Sean Bergenheim LW Tampa Bay 8.6
12. Randy Jones D Tampa Bay 8.4
13. Jesse Winchester C Ottawa 8.4
14. Jonathan Toews C Chicago 8.2
15. Logan Couture C San Jose 8.1
16. Tim Jackman RW Calgary 7.9
17. Mark Letestu C Pittsburgh 7.9
18. Ryan Shannon RW Ottawa 7.8
19. Jochen Hecht LW Buffalo 7.7
20. Brett Clark D Tampa Bay 7.6

Four members of the Lightning, and none of their "stars", are represented here, while many of those rating well don't see a lot of playing time, making the presence of top six forwards like Gionta, Clowe, Elias and Toews all the more impressive.

The worst shot differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 40 games played):

477. Cory Stillman LW Carolina -7.7
478. Cam Barker D Minnesota -7.8
479. Matt Cullen C Minnesota -8.2
480. Jeff Woywitka D Dallas -8.5
481. Tim Gleason D Carolina -8.5
482. Ryan Jones LW Edmonton -8.7
483. John Madden C Minnesota -8.7
484. Todd Marchant C Anaheim -8.8
485. Lauri Korpikoski LW Phoenix -9.0
486. Greg Zanon D Minnesota -9.0
487. Tanner Glass LW Vancouver -9.4
488. Brian Sutherby C Dallas -9.7
489. Chuck Kobasew RW Minnesota -10.0
490. Erik Christensen C N.Y. Rangers -10.4
491. Andreas Lilja D Anaheim -10.9
492. Eric Nystrom RW Minnesota -10.9
493. Colton Orr RW Toronto -10.9
494. Zenon Konopka C N.Y. Islanders -13.4
495. Brad Staubitz LW Minnesota -13.4
496. Matt Martin LW N.Y. Islanders -15.1

Seven Minnesota Wild players in the Bottom 20? Niklas Backstrom's Vezina candidacy should be cemented with that alone.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at  For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.