The Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers begin an Eastern Conference First Round series at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) that could prove to be the most thrilling.
According to the numbers, the Rangers are among the NHL's deepest in scoring, the Canadiens are the best at generating shots off the rush, and both teams are known for comebacks and exceptional third-period play.
Here are five interesting stats about this series:
Offense versus defense
This series could be another classic example of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.
The Rangers scored 253 goals, which ranked fourth in the NHL, had a shooting percentage of 10.4 percent, which ranked third, and they feature a depth of scoring that includes eight forwards with at least 15 goals. In particular, the Canadiens will have to contend with Mats Zuccarello, who led the Rangers with 59 points, and Chris Kreider, who led them with 28 goals.
The Rangers will be facing the fourth-best defense in the League, as measured in goals allowed (198). More than just great goaltending from Carey Price, the Canadiens have a commitment to solid defensive play, exemplified by unheralded two-way players such as Philip Danault and Paul Byron.
No zone time
Based on a count of how many faceoffs were taken in the offensive zone and defensive zone at even strength, neither team will be particularly focused on gaining a territorial advantage in this series.
Montreal lined up for 1,237 faceoffs in the offensive zone, and 1,320 in the defensive zone, for a zone start percentage of 48.38 percent that ranked 23rd, not far behind the Rangers, who ranked 21st with a zone start percentage of 48.68 percent, based on 1,184 faceoffs in the offensive zone, and 1,248 in the defensive.
Taking the shots
Typically, there is a strong relationship between a team's zone start percentage and its shot attempt percentage.
This is certainly true for the Rangers, whose shot attempt percentage of 47.94 percent, based on 3,520 shot attempts for and 3,823 against, ranked last among playoff teams, and 25th in the NHL.
Interestingly, this is not the case in Montreal, which had the third-best shot attempt percentage, despite ranking 23rd in zone start percentage. Based on 3,940 shot attempts for and 3,559 against, the Canadiens had a shot attempt percentage of 52.54 percent.
Shots off the rush
One of the explanations for Montreal's dominance on the shot clock despite the lack of offensive zone time was its success in generating shots off the rush.
In July 2014, David Johnson defined a rush shot as any shot attempt that occurs within 10 seconds of any event in the neutral or defensive zone, and without an intervening event in the offensive zone. By that definition, the Canadiens led the League with 322 shots off the rush, as calculated from NHL game files by Corsica Hockey.
On an individual basis, Jeff Petry led NHL defensemen by being on the ice for 130 on-ice rush shots, and Alexander Radulov's 99 ranked second among forwards to Derick Brassard of the Ottawa Senators (101).
Since the Canadiens and Rangers are among the League's most capable at comebacks, no game will truly be over until it's over.
The Rangers are 9-10-1 when trailing after the first period, which was the best record in the League after the Penguins (13-10-1). When trailing after the second period, the Canadiens had the best record, 11-20-4.
Both teams are at their best in the third period, where the Rangers outscored their opponents 101-76, and the Canadiens 89-66.
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