OK, so maybe the numbers don’t lie. That does not mean they cannot confound from time to time.
Consider the case of the Nashville Predators, who return to their home ice 7 p.m. Wednesday when they host the St. Louis Blues following a four-game road trip.
Having concluded that stretch with a shutout defeat Monday at Columbus, Nashville comes into the contest last in the Western Conference in scoring. Yet only one team in the conference (and four in the entire NHL) have more scorers than the Predators.
That’s right, in their 19 games the Predators have gotten goals from 17 different players. That, after Jerred Smithson got his first of the campaign Saturday at Carolina.
Only Colorado, Washington, Pittsburgh and Florida have had more players find the mark – and none of them have more than 18.
The Avalanche (third), Capitals (fourth) and Penguins (eighth) all are among the NHL’s top 10 in goals per game. The Panthers are 19th with eight more goals than Nashville in the identical number of games.
The Predators are 28th overall at an average of 2.82 goals per contest.
Nashville’s obvious issue is that no one among those 17 has scored all that often.
• Patric Hornqvist, Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan share the team lead with five goals each, which barely ranks among the top 100 in the NHL. Ninety-five different players currently have six or more goals.
Pittsburgh (Sidney Crosby), Colorado (Chris Stewart) and Washington (Alexander Ovechkin) all have a player who currently ranks among the top 10 in goals.
• Hornqvist and Sullivan each have gone six straight games since the last time they scored. Goc had two goals in the first four games, then missed six games with an injury and then did not score again until his sixth game back.
• The only one who has scored in more than two straight games is Sullivan, and his three-game streak comprised the first three contests of the season.
It’s not that the Predators’ injury issues have contributed to the large number of goal scorers either. Only one of the 17 who have scored this season was not in the lineup on opening night and that one, Sergei Kostitsyn, would have been if not for an injury.
The truth is that the Predators have been anything but a prolific offensive team this season, even if not all the numbers necessarily say so.