Here are the first five parts of my series on the decade that was:
Games played totals can be a bit misleading - after all, one shift is enough to qualify for having played in a game. Better to use time on ice: Andrew Brunette led the league in games played over the last decade, but was just 106th in total icetime. Here are the league leaders:
This number is the number of minutes these players played divided by the number of games their teams played. So Lidstrom played an average of 27 minutes in Detroit's games - that's what happens when you log over 28 minutes a game for most of the decade and miss just 20 games in 10 years. And Pat Quinn's unwillingness to have a second defensive pairing really pushed McCabe and Kaberle to the top.
What if we look purely on a per game basis?
This is an interesting result. Normally, if you look at per-game statistics, you have to set a lower limit for the number of games. Otherwise, you get a list of mostly players who played a small number of games but did reasonably well in them - eg, a player who played one game and got lucky and scored one goal. Not so with ice time - nobody just gets 21 minutes a game as a forward or 25 minutes a game as a defenseman without proving themselves over a number of games.
In fact, there's really only one guy who fits the Moonlight Graham bill in the last ten years: Brad Fast. The Carolina Hurricanes called him up for the last game of a brutal 2003-04 campaign after they'd traded away defensemen Danny Markov and Bob Boughner and Aaron Ward, Glen Wesley and Bruno St. Jacques were all injured. He logged 21 minutes on the second pairing with Niclas Wallin and scored the game-tying goal with 2:26 remaining but never cracked an NHL roster again.