“. . .and then there were SIX.” With the blanking of Tampa Bay last night, there are now only six NHL teams left that have managed to spare themselves the indignity of being shut out. And there are some surprises among the “surviving six.”
But before getting to the surprises, let’s take a quick look at the “no surprise” category. First, there are the Penguins. With Sidney Crosby tearing up the league, and dragging Chris Kunitz to a breakout year, the Pens lead the league in scoring by a wide margin (14 goals more than the next highest team). Among the 30 teams, they are the most likely not to have been shut out, and they indeed have not been. In fact, they have scored two or more goals in all but 4 of their 28 games.
Also in “no surprise” territory, are the Blackhawks. After all, each of those 24 straight games of gaining at least one point had to involve their scoring at least one goal. Further, they’ve only had three games since the streak ended, and though they’ve lost two of them, they didn’t come close to getting shut out in either.
Then there’s the Bruins, right near the top of the eastern conference all season. Certainly not the offensive juggernaut the Pens are, but with a conference low in losses (only four), they are the next least likely candidate to have been shut out.
Now to the other side of the ledger: the “surprises”. First, there are the Canucks. It seems a day doesn’t go by without some member of Canuck Nation cryin’ the blues about their inability to score, especially on the power play. So it must come as a surprise to find that the Canucks have survive to the final six in refusing to succumb to a blanking. And with their 7-4 shellacking of Nashville, they have actually climbed into the top half of the league in goals for, and they have been limited to a single goal only three times (and one of those games, they even won).
The other two teams in this category are bigger surprises, for both have for years had the reputation of being among the most offensively challenged teams in the league. One is New Jersey. To give you an idea of their troubles, their fourth highest scorer, Adam Henrique, has only 13 points. However, the trio of Elias, Kovalchuk and Clarkson have been prolific enough to keep the Devils on the score sheet every game this season.
The other offensively challenged team is the Minnesota Wild. It was thought that the acquisition of a sniper like Zach Parise might help them shed their “no finish” reputation, but he has managed to get points in only a little over half of their 26 games so far, and the Wild have accumulated only 64 goals, just two more than the league low of 62. But still, they have been able to escape the dreaded goose-egg, though they have come close. . .scoring just a single goal eight times (nearly a third of all their games!). In terms of “staying alive” in the game of avoiding being shut out, Minnesota is truly the big surprise.