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NHL Playoffs - 7 key stats that signal upcoming Stanley Cup success

Feb 21, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) and forward T.J. Oshie (77) congratulate forward Alex Ovechkin (8) after his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to commence Wednesday as the best 16 clubs in the NHL battle it out for Lord Stanley’s mug.

The 82-game regular season narrowed down the field but all teams – minus the Tampa Bay Lightning – went through their share of ups and downs over the past six-and-a-half months and not all stats can be considered relevant anymore.

Diving deeper into the numbers and more recent trends can help NHL playoff bettors predict the playoff upsets or determine who’ll just keep rolling through the competition.

1. Lightning lost consecutive games in regulation just once

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning’s worst stretch of the season came in games against the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres in mid-November in which they went 0-2 and were outscored 8-5. The only other time Tampa Bay lost back-to-back games all year were in the form of a shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights and an overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues in early February.

2. Blues are 28-8-5 since Jan. 10 with +42 goal differential

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues’ 61 points over the second half of their season were eight more than the conference-winning Calgary Flames amassed over the same span. The Blues outscored their opponents by 42 over that time with the Flames holding just a 21-goal edge over their competition. The league-best Lightning racked up 63 points and outscored the opposition by 48.

3. Jets had worst 5v5 Corsi For Percentage of all playoff teams since March 1

The Winnipeg Jets’ Corsi For percentage (percentage of all shot attempts, provided by Corsica.Hockey) of 46.76 at full strength since March 1 ranked just 25th in the league. Their Round 1 opponent, the Blues, ranked eighth at 53.05 and the Flames led the league at 57.16 percent.

4. Jordan Binnington led all goalies with at least 600 minutes in high-difficulty save percentage

Binnington, a 25-year-old rookie from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, led the league with a 1.89 goals against average over 32 games played. His 85.83 save percentage on high-difficulty shots at 5-on-5 also led the league, with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne coming in second.

5. Capitals had seven players score at least 20 goals

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Ovechkin again led the Washington Capitals with 51 goals, but six other players scored at least 21 times, after only Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov topped 20 a year ago. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the only other playoff team to match Washington with seven 20-goal scorers.

6. Sharks led all playoff teams with 6.67 total goals per game

The San Jose Sharks’ high-paced style ranked second in the league with 289 goals for this season while allowing an 11th-worst 258. Five players top 20 goals, led by Joe Pavelski‘s 38. G Martin Jones finished the season with a .896 save percentage.

7. Golden Knights were only Round 1 underdog to pick up more points in regular-season series than their opponent

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Knights went 2-1-1 in their season series against the Sharks, picking up five points to their opponent’s four. The Lightning was the only team to sweep their season series, going 3-0 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, with all three games decided in regulation.

Follow Esten on Twitter @EstenMcLaren

For a full-set of today’s sports betting odds, access them at USA TODAY Sports.


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