Seven surprising small sample size stats to start the NHL season –

Small Sample Size.

The season is eight days old as we write this statistical analysis, and those three words — small sample size — echo through the wind chamber that is our mind.

But when Brent Burns is among the worst plus-minus players in the game, and Nail Yakupov is among the best, a guy’s got to write something, doesn’t he?

Here’s an early waltz through the National Hockey League’s stats, with this thought in mind: If’s stats page were an NHL team, it would be off to a worse start than the Sabres or Coyotes.

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• Calgary’s Mike Smith has faced more shots than any NHL goalie (160), ranking second in Time On Ice among NHL goalies behind only Toronto’s Frederik Andersen (242:29 to 239:57).

Our take: With the addition of Travis Hamonic, we thought the puck would be in Calgary’s zone far less due to the Flames having two mobile, skilled pairs of D-men. Shots against should go down, right? Well, Calgary leads the NHL, allowing an average of 40.3 shots per game thus far. So much for our theory.

• Seven players bring up the rear at either minus-5 or minus-6. Included in that group are some of the best players in the game: Reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns, Mitch Marner, David Pastrnak, Kyle Okposo, Conor Sheary, Sam Reinhart and Kris Letang.

Our take: Holy cow — those names give us half an all-star team. Boys, golf season is over. Time to get it up over par.

• Boston (58.6 per cent) and Toronto (58 per cent) lead the league in team faceoff percentage.

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