The NHL’s 2020-21 regular season halfway mark was reached at the completion of the first game last Tuesday, March 16th.
By the Numbers
1996 – Calendar year when the Panthers (19-5-4, 42 points) last occupied first place in the NHL standings – through a minimum of three games played in their season – before overtaking the Islanders (19-6-4, 42 points) with their victory March 15. The last such instance prior to this was through games played Dec. 28, 1996.
1,299 – Career points for Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (717-582—1,299 in 1,176 GP), who has scored four times in his past five games to tie Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time NHL goals list and move within one of becoming the 35th player in League history to record 1,300 points.
39 – Approximate time, in years, since the Islanders (19-6-4, 42 points) last sat alone in first place in the NHL standings through at least 25 games played in a season before temporarily claiming the spot with a win March 14. Before that, New York last held the position April 4, 1982 when they closed the 1981-82 season with the League’s best record – four seasons before the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced.
31 – Consecutive days that Toronto ranked first in the NHL standings (through games of Feb. 6 – March 8, inclusive) before Tampa Bay overtook them with a win March 9 – triggering a week-long stretch that has seen four teams rotate as the No. 1 seed: Lightning (3 days), Maple Leafs (2 days), Islanders (1 day) and Panthers (1 day).
24 – Points recorded by Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (10-14—24 in 26 GP); only five rookies have had more in a season for Minnesota. He paces all rookies in goals, assists, points and points-per-game (0.92; min. 5 GP).
18 – Number of NHL clubs that have opened their arena to fans at reduced capacity or have announced plans to do so.
17 – Points by Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (7-10—17 in 7 GP) against the Senators so far in 2020-21, the most by one player versus a single opponent in a regular season since 2009-10 (Sidney Crosby: 6-11—17 in 6 GP vs. NYI w/ PIT). The last time a player had more points against one opponent in a single season was 2006-07 (Joe Sakic: 5-15—20 in 8 GP vs. CGY w/ COL; Dany Heatley: 8-10—18 in 8 GP vs. BUF w/ OTT).
12 – Number of players in NHL history to record 100 points in 56 or fewer games in a season for a total of 36 such instances, with the last occurring in 1995-96 (Mario Lemieux: 38 GP; Jaromir Jagr: 52 GP). Oilers forward Connor McDavid (17-36—53) leads the NHL with 53 points in 31 games; Edmonton has 25 contests remaining.
9 – Wins on home ice in as many appearances by Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who paces the NHL with 17 wins overall in 2020-21 (21 GP). Only five goaltenders in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) have won each of their first 10 or more home games of a season.
7 – Number of teams within three points of first place in the NHL standings.
6 – Number of times that Patrick Kane has finished among the top 10 in League scoring over his prior 13 NHL seasons, with four of those instances coming in the past five campaigns. The Blackhawks forward is the only player above age 28 among the top nine point-getters so far in 2020-21.
4 – Wins required for Marc-Andre Fleury (481), the leader among active goaltenders, to overtake Ed Belfour (484) for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list. The Vegas netminder paces the NHL in save percentage (.936), goals-against average (1.77) and shutouts (tied; 4) and needs one shutout to tie Patrick Roy (66) for 15th place in NHL history.
4 – Largest point differential between the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in any division.
3 – Number of teams over the past 71 years (1949-50 onward) to finish a season with the rookie leader in points and the rookie leader in wins (1985-86 Canadiens, 1979-80 Flyers and 1975-76 Islanders). The Wild enter the second half of 2020-21 with Kirill Kaprizov as the NHL’s top-scoring rookie and Kaapo Kahkonen (11) ranking second in rookie wins behind Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek (12).
2 – Number of players in the previous 22 seasons (1997-98 to 2019-20) to score 40 or more goals through 53 or fewer games played in a season (Alex Ovechkin: 3x, last: 2019-20; Pavel Bure: 1999-00). Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews paces the NHL with 21 goals in 27 games; Toronto has 26 contests remaining.
1 – Longest stretch of regulation losses this season by the Panthers and Jets, the only clubs yet to record consecutive regulation defeats in 2020-21.
Viewership in the U.S. and Canada
At the halfway mark of the 2020-21 season, NHL fans continue to tune into games in record numbers:
* In the U.S. through March 10, NBC is averaging 1.134 million viewers per game, an increase of 8% year-over-year (YOY)*. Season-to-date, viewership is up 13% across NBC and NBCSN* (*excluding the 2020 NHL Winter Classic). NBCSN is up 14% YOY (348,000 average audience) and Wednesday Night Hockey is up 22% YOY. Seventeen of the 24 U.S. club RSNs are up YOY, with all 17 teams up at least 20%.
* In Canada, Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey is up 56% YOY, attracting an average audience of 1.145 million viewers for all-Canadian matchups. Hockey Night in Canada’s early games (7 p.m. ET) are delivering an average audience of 2.090 million viewers, an increase of 6% YOY, while late games (10 p.m. ET) are attracting an average audience of 1.055 million, up 27% YOY.