If there are more bare heads at NHL games this season, it's because the number of hat tricks this season has skyrocketed.
Through the first 247 games this season, there have been 20 players putting together three-goal games, the most at this point in a season since 1994-95, when there were 22. At this point last season there were just 11 hat tricks.
Nineteen different players have had hat tricks this season, including a pair by Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin. He had 3 goals against the Thrashers in a 4-3 overtime victory Oct. 23, and had 3 goals -- including the game-winner, as well as 2 assists -- in 6-3 win against the Lightning on Nov. 11.
That same night, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter scored 3 straight goals -- a natural hat trick -- in an 8-1 rout of the Hurricanes. It was the first natural hat trick in an NHL game since Marian Gaborik accomplished the feat Jan. 31, 2010.
Two hat tricks on one day hasn't been all that unique this season -- Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 each featured a hat trick of hat tricks.
The Senators' Daniel Alfredsson's 3-goal night Oct. 22 included him scoring the game-winner with his second goal, and his 1,000th NHL point on an empty-netter that sealed a 4-2 win against the Sabres. The Ottawa captain became the third player in NHL history to record a hat trick on the same night he reached 1,000 points, joining Michel Goulet and Adam Oates.
The Flames' Rene Bourque and the Lightning's Steven Stamkos also had hat tricks that night.
The next night, Semin, the Kings' Brad Richardson and the Islanders' John Tavares all notched hat tricks. For Tavares, at age 20 years, 33 days, he became the fourth-youngest player in Islanders history to score 3 goals in a game, behind Pat LaFontaine, Bryan Trottier and Brent Sutter.
Richardson's hat trick, the first of his career, came against the Avalanche, the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2003 Entry Draft.
There has been a family feeling to the hat trick this season. Thrashers forward Anthony Stewart scored his first NHL hat trick Oct. 15 in a 5-4 shootout win against the Ducks; two weeks later, younger brother Chris, an Avalanche forward, had his own big night Oct. 28 in a 6-5 win against the Flames.
The first hat trick of the season, though, may have set the course for the season. Rangers rookie center Derek Stepan, in his first NHL game, scored his first 3 NHL goals in a 6-3 Rangers defeat of the Sabres on Oct. 9.
He became the fourth player in NHL history to record a hat trick in his first NHL game.
"Not a chance could I have dreamed this," Stepan said after becoming the first Ranger in 55 years to get a hat trick on opening night. "You dream about playing in the NHL, and then you go out and play like that, I mean the hockey gods must have been looking down on me. It was a fun night overall, that's for sure."
It's been fun for a lot of players this season.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com