You can look at the NHL’s goal scoring leaders and get a sense of who has been lighting the lamp with impunity so far. However, it will only tell you a partial story. The season is still relatively young, we’re still in the “2016” part of the “2016-17 season” after all, and some of these goal scorers are getting lucky. In fact, almost all of them are getting at least a little lucky, even the great ones. As such, I decided to take a look at the shooting percentages of top scorers in the league, to get a sense of just how lucky they’ve been. (All stats are from before Tuesday’s games.)
Generally speaking, players who put a significant number of shots on net don’t finish with shooting percentages over 20. For example, the player with the most goals who had a shooting percentage over 20 last year was Adam Henrique, who scored 30 goals with a 20.1 shooting percentage. That left him tied for 19th in the rankings. The top three goal scorers in the NHL, Sidney Crosby, Patrik Laine, and David Pastrnak, all are decidedly above 20 percent right now. Crosby is a future Hall-of-Famer, but even he can’t sustain a 23.9 shooting percentage. Four players tied for fourth with 13 goals are below the 20 percent threshold, with the lowest percentage belonging to Vladamir Tarasenko, who has a 14.4 shooting percentage. That’s decidedly sustainable, and also not surprising. We all know Tarasenko is great. On the other hand, should we believe in Mark Scheifele whole-heartedly with his 19.7 shooting percentage? Oh, and the player with the most goals and a shooting percentage below 10 percent? That would be Brent Burns, who has 10 goals on 107 shots.
Wild (PP: 16, PK: 13) at Maple Leafs (PP: 10, PK: 7), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Devan Dubnyk (10-6-3, 1.63, .946), Frederik Andersen (10-6-4, 2.86, .913)
Key Injuries: Nazem Kadri (illness), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
You may see this as a matchup between a team with a good offense and goal prevention issues against a stalwart defensive team that doesn’t have the most dynamic offense. Three of those things are true. The Maple Leafs are fifth in goals for and 28th in goals allowed. The Wild are tied for the best goals against average in the league, but they are actually 10th in goals for. Minnesota has some solid scoring depth. Nine players have double-digit points, led by Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle with 17. Zach Parise is not one of them, but that’s because he’s only played in 17 games. The Maple Leafs have three players with double-digit goals, but one of them is Kadri, who missed Tuesday’s practice with an illness. Among the many good, young players Toronto has let us spotlight Morgan Rielly. The blueliner has 13 points, but only one of them is a goal. However, that one goal is the product of 50 shots on net, giving him an unsustainably low shooting percentage. More goals will come, although it may be hard to bet on him scoring against Dubnyk, who has the league’s best save percentage.
Bruins (PP: 27, PK: 3) at Capitals (PP: 23, PK: 14), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Tuukka Rask (14-4-1, 1.68, .939), Braden Holtby (11-6-2, 2.14, .923)
Key Injuries: Matt Beleskey (lower body), John-Michael Liles (concussion), Frank Vatrano (foot), T.J. Oshie (shoulder)
Well don’t expect a power-play goal in this one. In fact, don’t expect many goals at all, with two former Vezina winners in net who are sporting microscopic GAAs. The Capitals have been scuffling offensively the last few games, as they scored more than two goals for the first time in four games Monday, and it took overtime to make that happen. The absence of Oshie certainly hasn’t helped, as he’s still third on the team in goals with eight despite only playing in 17 games. Alex Ovechkin leads the way with 12 goals, while Marcus Johansson has 11. However, Ovechkin has a 12.6 shooting percentage, while Johansson’s is 25.6. One of those seems unsustainable. Your latest update on Patrice Bergeron’s hard luck: He only has four goals on 80 shots on net. Bergeron leads the Bruins in shots on goal despite missing three games. Of course, David Pastrnak is second on the team with 71 despite only playing in 21 games, and he has 15 goals.
Hurricanes (PP: 12, PK: 1) at Ducks (PP: 4, PK: 19), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Ward (8-7-4, 2.09, .924), John Gibson (8-7-4, 2.45, .915)
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (head), Rickard Rakell (upper body), Clayton Stoner (lower body), Nate Thompson (achilles), Eddie Lack (concussion), Elias Lindholm (lower body), Jordan Staal (concussion)
Watching Anaheim’s power play against Carolina’s penalty kill will be exciting. Now that we are more than a quarter of a way into the season, we have to try and come to grips with the season Ward is having. Heading into the year, many were baffled by the Hurricanes’ continued insistence he can be a starting goalie in the NHL. He still is the same man who has a career save percentage of .910. In his career, Ward has been a below average goalie. On the other hand, netminders have been able to go on extended hot streaks. Let us never forget Andrew Hammond’s .941 save percentage in 2014-15. The Ducks aren’t going to make things easy for him. They just scored eight goals in a game, albeit against Calgary. Although, if Rakell can’t play that certainly hurts things, though he didn’t play against the Flames, either. Anaheim is being powered by the Ryans right now. Getzlaf has 22 points, while Kesler has 21, including a team-leading 11 goals. Carolina doesn’t have the same offensive firepower, but Sebastian Aho could be in for a scoring uptick. The rookie has put 61 shots on net, but only has three goals.
Senators (PP: 17, PK: 6) at Sharks (PP: 12, PK: 11), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Mike Condon (3-1-1, 1.73, .943), Martin Jones (13-8-1, 1.99, .924)
Key Injuries: Craig Anderson (personal), Curtis Lazar (upper body), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Marc Methot (lower body), Bobby Ryan (hand), Tomas Hertl (knee)
Anderson, unfortunately, has to take leave again after returning for one game which did not go well. That makes Condon the go-to netminder for the Senators once more. He remains a mystery, as he has been great this season after being, simply put, bad for Montreal in his first NHL season (2.71 GAA, .903 save percentage). The Sharks may not be the team to put the fear in Condon, though. Their offense has been somewhat lackluster, as they rank 21st in goals scored. On the other hand, they are tied with the Wild at the top of the league in goals allowed. They are barely allowing more than two goals per game (2.04). San Jose only has one player with double-digit goals, and that’s defenseman Brent Burns. Hertl’s injury doesn’t help, but neither does the fact that Joe Thornton is averaging less than one shot per game. Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward have lost a step or two as well. Burns, along with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, basically have to carry this offense. This is not a team with depth. Speaking of prolifically scoring defenseman, Erik Karlsson tops the Senators with 24 points, because he remains probably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the NHL. Karlsson is getting help from a surging Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone. Since returning from an injury, Hoffman has 12 points in eight games. Stone, for his part, has 11 points in his last eight games.
Mathew Dumba, D, MIN – Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old Dumba has seen his role with the Wild really increase this season. Last year, he averaged a new career high of 16:50 per game, but this year he’s all the way up to 20:42, and his power-play time is up a little bit as well. He has two goals and eight points in 24 games, but he also has a career-low shooting percentage at the moment. Dumba has put 49 shots on goal, while puts him on pace for a new career high in that category as well. If you are looking for a little help on the blueline, why not grab a young, up-and-coming player who already has a 10 goal season to his name?