Fifty goals in fifty games is an incredible accomplishment, and a quirky milestone the hockey world treats with reverence.
Officially, the milestone is 50 goals in the team’s first 50 games of the regular season. This has happened eight times in NHL history, and not since Brett Hull did it in back-to-back seasons (1990-91 and 1991-92). There have been unofficial 50 in 50s, as five times a player had 50 goals in his first 50 games of a season but not the team’s. No one has done that since Cam Neely in 1993-94.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has an outside chance to craft his own version of the NHL’s 50 in 50. He scored 23 goals in the final 23 regular-season contests in 2012-13, and he hasn’t stopped this season, with 17 in his first 20 games.
That’s 40 in 43 games -- he had 40 in 42 before his team was shut out Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can Ovechkin score 10 times in his next seven games? Obviously it wouldn’t be an official 50 in 50 if he pulls it off, but it might be seen as the greatest scoring surge of the past 20 years.
Scott Niedermayer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, and despite all of his accomplishments and his reputation as one of the greatest defensemen in the history of the sport, it still is surprising to see one Norris Trophy on his resume.
That can be explained partly because of Nicklas Lidstrom, who won seven times in eight years (Niedermayer broke his run of dominance in 2004) and partly because Niedermayer's talents probably were not properly appreciated.
He didn't have a booming shot or the offensive numbers of players in more goal-friendly systems, and he didn't dish out the highlight-reel hits like Scott Stevens or Chris Pronger. He was like Lidstrom, an all-round marvel who didn't make mistakes.
The 2013-14 season passed the one-month mark Nov. 1, and that typically is about the time for teams to take stock in where they are at and where they need to go.
One of the trusted axioms in hockey is the importance of a fast start to the season. The general thought process is points are easier to come by in October and November than in the final months of the season when teams become more focused, the pressure becomes greater and the games become tighter.
That might not necessarily be true in the current NHL. The tables above show the top eight teams in each conference at the end of the day that is one month from the start of the regular season (for seasons when teams played games in Europe, we're using opening night in North America as the "official" start date).
There are 25 players who have scored 30 goals in a season at least three times since the start of the 2006-07 season.
Not counting 2012-13, when only Alex Ovechkin scored at least 30 goals, this group of players all scored at least 30 three times in a six-season span. Six of those players have been traded in the past 15 months, including two who moved in the same deal Tuesday when the New York Islanders sent Matt Moulson and two draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek.
Among deals where proven offensive commodities switched sides, it is the biggest trade since Marian Hossa went to the Atlanta Thrashers from the Ottawa Senators for Dany Heatley in 2005. Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik essentially were traded for each other (eventually), but that doesn't count.
"… we will make the playoffs," Giroux said. There was more at the beginning of the quote, about not being far off and taking it game-by-game, but those last five words were what stood out.
Giroux's team has lost seven of eight games to start the season and has scored a total of 11 goals. That equates to the worst start in franchise history and one of the worst starts in the NHL in the past 40 years.
So Giroux was joking, yes? Vincent Lecavalier went home and wrote in his diary, "Claude had a very funny joke today," right?
The Flyers captain was not joking. And as bleak as it appears for Philadelphia, his proclamation isn't quite as crazy as it seems on the surface.
The Western Conference has had its way with its brethren from the Eastern Conference in recent seasons, but the move of a perennial power in the Detroit Red Wings (and the young and improving Columbus Blue Jackets) in realignment was expected to shift some of the balance of regular-season power.
It hasn't materialized to this point. Teams from the Western Conference were 31-11-4 in games against Eastern Conference foes through the end of games Wednesday, which equates to a pace of nearly 118 points in a full season.
In the new divisional playoff format, a fifth-place team from one division can usurp a Stanley Cup Playoff berth from the fourth-place finisher in the other. If there could be crossover between the conferences, 10 teams from the West would be in the playoffs if they had started Thursday.
There have been several NHL drafts in the past decade that featured strong crops of defensemen, and the two most recent classes stack up favorably against the best ever.
The 2012 and 2013 drafts are responsible for what could be one of the best collections of rookie defensemen in recent League history. The surprise is that those two draft classes are responsible for NHL-ready players at the position so soon.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.ca wrote this week about the collection of teenage defensemen around the NHL at the start of the 2013-14 season.
From 2005 to 2013, there were 17 defensemen who did not turn 20 years old by Jan. 15 of their first NHL season and played at least 41 games as a rookie. The most in one season was 2009-10, when there were five teenage rookie defensemen who spent the entire season in the NHL.
The 2012-13 season ended with the four previous NHL champions in the conference finals, and none of those four teams were weakened significantly during the offseason.
While parity has been prevalent since the 2005-06 season, those four clubs provide the standard for others to strive for as the 2013-14 campaign beckons.
Those four teams are featured near the top of the first Super 16 rankings of the season, which are going to look a little different this year. Because this weekly segment no longer is penned by Dave Lozo, there probably will be fewer references to Ross Geller and George Costanza, but hockey fans who also like Jon Snow should not fret.
Here is the first installment of the Super 16, with the caveat that we know about as much as, well, Jon Snow does at this point: