The NHL's Top Performers in Major Stat Categories in 2013-14

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

The NHL's Top Performers in Major Stat Categories in 2013-14

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    On Sunday, April 13, the National Hockey League concluded play for the 2013-14 regular season.

    The first full season under the new collective bargaining agreement will be remembered for outstanding offensive performances from the same stars who established themselves following the 2004-05 lockout.

    Plenty of new stars have also burst onto the scene since then and have begun building their legacies.

    As we wait for the playoffs to get started on Wednesday, here's a look at your top players in each of the NHL's major statistical categories for the 2013-14 season.

Most Points

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    1. Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins: 36-68-104

    Often acknowledged as the best player in the game today, Sidney Crosby's 104 points will earn him just the second Art Ross Trophy of his careerhis first since 2006-07. Finally back in good health for the first full season since 2009-10, Crosby has returned to the top of the heap. He's the only player to break 100 points this season.


    2. Ryan Getzlaf - Anaheim Ducks: 31-56-87

    With a new career high of 31 goals, Getzlaf's second-place showing in the scoring race is the best of his career: he placed sixth overall with 25 goals and 91 points back in 2008-09. A more mature Getzlaf is moving away from the physical play he favored in his younger days. His 31 penalty minutes are the lowest full-season numbers he's posted in his career.


    3. Claude Giroux - Philadelphia Flyers: 28-58-86

    After waiting until his 16th game to score his first goal of the season, Claude Giroux made up for lost time, eventually tying his career best of 28 by season's end. In 2011-12, Giroux's career-best 93 points put him third in the Art Ross sweepstakes behind Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos. He matches that position with his 86 points in 2013-14.

Most Goals

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    1. Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals: 51 goals

    Alex Ovechkin has logged his fifth 50-goal season in his nine-year NHL career and is the NHL's only 50-goal scorer this season, with 51. Ovechkin is also the only player with four Maurice Richard Trophies since the award's introduction in 1999. He'll need three more scoring titles to tie Bobby Hull's record of seven.


    2. Corey Perry - Anaheim Ducks: 43 goals

    Corey Perry didn't match his 50 goals or 98 points from his Maurice Richard and Hart Trophy-winning season in 2010-11, but he posted the second-best numbers of his career and developed a stronger two-way game. Perry's plus-32 in 2013-14 obliterates his previous career best of plus-12.


    3. Joe Pavelski - San Jose Sharks: 41 goals

    With scoring down all around the NHL this season, Joe Pavelski bucked the trend with a career year. He led the San Jose Sharks in scoring for the first time with 79 points, scoring 10 more goals than ever before. He also didn't sacrifice the defensive side of his game: Pavelski's 2013-14 plus-minus rating of plus-23 is also a career high.

Most Assists

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    1. Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins: 68 assists

    Great players make those around them better, and Sidney Crosby is no exception. Though the Pittsburgh Penguins' injury situation left him with a revolving door of linemates all season long, Crosby set up more goals than any other player in the league. Of his 68 assists, 27 were on the power play and 41 came at even strength.


    2. Joe Thornton - San Jose Sharks: 65 assists

    At 34 years or age, Joe Thornton is evolving into a five-on-five setup specialist. His 47 assists at even strength led the league, and he's in the top 10 for even-strength points when his nine goals are factored in. Thornton still leads the Sharks with 3:40 of power-play ice time per game, but he shines brightest at even strength.


    3. Nicklas Backstrom - Washington Capitals: 61 assists

    It's no accident that Nicklas Backstrom and his linemate Alex Ovechkin are both ending the year with 79 points. The pair work together to form the greatest power-play duo in today's NHL. Backstrom led the league with 38 assists with the man advantage.

Most Power-Play Goals

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    1. Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals: 24 goals

    As mentioned, there's no power-play duo in the league better than Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovi leads this category by 50 percent over his closest competition. The knock on Ovechkin is that he has become a one-dimensional player, but he's in a class of his own when it comes to executing his specialty.


    2. Joe Pavelski - San Jose Sharks: 16 goals

    Joe Pavelski is a surprise in this category. He has only scored more than 10 power-play goals once before in his career, and that was back in 2010-11. While his total ice time has remained pretty consistent over the past six seasons, Coach Todd McLellan seems to successfully hand Pavelski a little more responsibility in a different area with every passing season.


    3. Wayne Simmonds - Philadelphia Flyers: 15 goals

    Just like Pavelski, Simmonds took the next step this year in producing with the man advantage. The Flyers deployed a top-10 power play this season, where Simmonds has developed into the classic net-front presence. He screens the goaltender while offering timely tips and deflections. Simmonds' power-play efforts were a big part of his career season, in which he reached a new high of 60 points.

Best Plus/Minus

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    1. David Krejci - Boston Bruins: Plus-39

    It's a Boston Bruins sweep in the plus/minus category this season. Though teammate Patrice Bergeron is better known for his two-way play, David Krejci earns the bragging rights this year—a breakthrough for a player whose defensive game has sometimes been spotty in past seasons.


    2. Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins: Plus-38

    Krejci and Bergeron are also one-two in Boston scoring this season. Surprisingly, it's Bergeron who's tied with Jarome Iginla for the team's scoring lead with 30 goals. Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward in 2012 and finished second last season. He'll be back in the conversation again this year.


    3. Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins: Plus-36

    After a bumpy start to his season, Marchand found his game in January and hasn't looked back. The super-pest finished the season just two points off his career high and with his best-ever plus/minus on a team where he has always been committed to playing hard at both ends of the ice.

Leading Goals-Against Average (Min. 25 Games Played)

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    1. Josh Harding - Minnesota Wild: 29 games played, 1.65 GAA

    Josh Harding was the feel-good story of the first half of the NHL season. After being forced to take a medical timeout from his career to deal with complications from multiple sclerosis, 29-year-old Harding came back better than ever to start 2013-14. His numbers led the league until New Year's, when he was sidelined once again due to medical issues. 


    2. Brian Elliott - St. Louis Blues: 31 games played, 1.96 GAA

    Though he's been relegated to a lesser role in the goaltending shuffle in St. Louis, Brian Elliott holds the best goals-against average of the Blues' three netminders this season—in fact, the best of any goalie currently on an NHL roster. Elliott has been given just four starts since Ryan Miller was acquired by the Blues at the trade deadline. With St. Louis on a six-game losing skid, it'll be interesting to see if he draws in to start the playoffs. 


    3. Cory Schneider - New Jersey Devils: 45 games played, 1.97 GAA

    Cory Schneider has performed well for the New Jersey Devils this season, but his performances didn't translate into wins—or a playoff spot—for a team that had trouble scoring goals. Despite a sub-2.00 goals-against average, Schneider's record was just 16-15-12-3.

Leading Save Percentage (Min. 25 Games Played)

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    1. Josh Harding - Minnesota Wild: 29 games played, .933 save percentage

    It's rare in the modern NHL to see a goaltender lead the league in both goals-against average and save percentage—two metrics that often work quite differently. Josh Harding was the exception until he was felled by injury—stopping a high percentage of the shots he faced and translating those stops into wins. Harding has rejoined the Wild going into the playoffs—if he's deemed ready to play, could he be a postseason difference-maker?


    2. Tuukka Rask - Boston Bruins: 58 games played, .930 save percentage

    Playing behind one of the best defensive systems in the league, Tuukka Rask's job looks like it could be easy. With the best save percentage among active netminders, it's clear that Rask actually is a critical component to the Bruins' success. He provides the timely stops and sense of security that help drive the success of the team in front of him.


    3. Semyon Varlamov - Colorado Avalanche: 63 games played, .927 save percentage

    All-star-caliber goaltending from Semyon Varlamov has been such an important part of the Colorado Avalanche's stunning turnaround in 2013-14, there's talk that he'll get votes for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Varlamov's .927 save percentage is a career high for him and helped him set an Avalanche franchise record for most wins by a goalie in a season.

Most Wins by a Goaltender

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    1. Semyon Varlamov - Colorado Avalanche: 63 games played, 41 wins

    Varlamov had a career high of 26 wins before being asked to carry the load for the Colorado Avalanche this season. He played through some swirling legal issues early in the season and came back from a disappointing Olympics by playing better than ever for the Avs.

    Varlamov's strong play last in the season helped Colorado climb all the way to the Central Division title and sets the stage for them to enter their first postseason in four years brimming with confidence.


    2. Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins: 64 games played, 39 wins

    The Pittsburgh Penguins posted another solid regular season, despite dealing with serious injury issues all year long. Marc-Andre Fleury finished the year with numbers that are almost identical to his three previous regular seasons, including an impressive winning percentage. Fleury had Stanley Cup success in 2009, but has faltered in subsequent seasons. Now, his real test begins.


    3. Antti Niemi - San Jose Sharks: 64 games played, 39 wins

    A Stanley Cup winner himself with Chicago in 2010, Antti Niemi walks a similar road to Fleury. Stellar during the early part of the season, consistency has been an issue for the 30-year-old Finn in recent months. His 39 wins mark a new career high.

Most Shutouts

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    1. Tuukka Rask - Boston Bruins: 58 games played, 7 shutouts

    In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Tuukka Rask tied four other goalies with five shutouts on the year. This season, he claims the honor solely for himself. Seven is a surprisingly low number for a league shutout leader; often, the winner of this category posts a total in double digits.


    2. Carey Price - Montreal Canadiens: 59 games played, 6 shutouts

    Tied for second place among the shutout leaders, Carey Price's six goose eggs are his best since he posted eight shutouts back in 2010-11, good for third place on the list at that time.


    3. Jonathan Quick - Los Angeles Kings: 49 games played, 6 shutouts

    Unsurprisingly, Jonathan Quick's best year for shutouts was the year he won the Stanley Cup: He had 10 in 2011-12. Quick's total for this season likely would have been higher if he hadn't missed nearly two months of action with a groin injury.