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How much should we read into stats after 2 games?



So, here we are, two games into the season. Is it time to get worked up over stats? Is it even fair to the players, who have some issues with their numbers so far, but have a sustained track record of performance?

Two examples: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier has won only 31 percent (9 of 29) faceoffs so far. New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is 0-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and an .849 save percentage.

"It's a couple of games," Lecavalier said. "I'll make sure it's better. Some games I'll be at 35 percent, some games I'll be at 60, 70 percent."

And as for Brodeur told the Newark Star-Ledger:

"It's a long season, after 82 games I'll tell you how my season was. Right now it has no bearing. Everybody can be good for two games and everybody can be bad for two games. It's how you do over the length of 82 games."

All well and good, but we're not talking about two insignificant players here. We're taking about two players on whose shoulders rests a lot of what success their teams could have. And you could make the argument that faceoffs are valuable when talking about puck possession (especially on the power play), and making saves is integral to New Jersey's success.

On the other hand, had either player gone through two-game slumps like these midway through the season, probably no one would notice. But because the first games of the season are so visible, the numbers are magnified.

My view is that numbers this early in the season should be noted but not fretted over. These guys are star players, after all.

Some other stuff from the morning skate:

Defenseman Kurtis Foster said he saw a doctor after Wednesday's practice and said his lower-body injury, which he declined to reveal as per team policy, is "minor," and not something he can make worse by playing. In other words, he said, "As long as I can deal with the pain," he can play. Foster said he hopes to be back in the lineup Saturday against the  Hurricanes. ... Meanwhile, defenseman David Hale will get another chance to play. ... Goaltender Mike Smith, who gets his third straight start tonight, wishes Gators quarterback Tim Tebow the best as he recovers from his concussion. But Smith, who spent seven months overcoming post-concussion syndrome, said, "The advice I would give (Tebow) is not to come back too early." ... Right wing Stephane Veilleux, who gets a turn on Lecavalier's line tonight, said he has only good memories of playing for coach Jacques Lemaire with the Wild. Lemaire, of course, now coaches the Devils. "He was a really good teacher," Veilleux said. "He always treated his players the right way. He was a really fair man the way he handles his players. What I got most from him is how to pay attention to details of the game and how to prepare against any team you faced." Veilleux also said there is no such thing as the neutral-zone trap for which Lemaire is credited developing and which has been vilified as something that sucked the offense out of the game. "I don't think there's any specific trap," Veilleux said. "I don't think so at all. Yes, we were playing the checking lines against the top lines, and things like that, matching lines. There was good positioning and forechecking, but no trap."  

[Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2009 12:15am]


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