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A numerical look at the 2000s

by John Kreiser
Hard as it may be to believe, the first decade of the 21st century is almost at an end. It's been a decade unlike any other for the National Hockey League, which went through a last burst of expansion before leveling off at 30 teams, saw the Stanley Cup won by teams in areas like Florida and Southern California (but not in Canada), and saw the arrival of a new generation of stars led by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

As the NHL and its 30 teams prepare for the arrival of a new decade (and the Winter Classic, another innovation adopted in this soon-to-be-expired decade), here's a numerical look back at 2000-09:

0 -- Stanley Cups won by teams in the Northeast Division, which includes three of the NHL's Original Six (Boston, Montreal and Toronto). The Northeast was the only division that didn't have a Cup winner in this decade (and had only one Cup finalist, the 2007 Ottawa Senators). The Atlantic Division led the way with three champions (two by New Jersey, one by Pittsburgh).

1 ­-- Playoff appearances by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the last team to make a postseason appearance. The Blue Jackets (2009), Atlanta Thrashers (2007) and Florida Panthers (2000) were the only teams to make just one playoff appearance in the decade; everyone else had at least two.

2 -- Most Stanley Cups won by any team in the decade. Both New Jersey (2000 and 2003) and Detroit (2002 and 2008) won twice; five other teams won once and no playoffs were held in 2005 due to the work stoppage. 

3 -- Players who tied for the goal-scoring lead in 2003-04, only the second time in NHL history that there was a three-way tie for most goals. Rick Nash of Columbus, Jarome Iginla of Calgary and Ilya Kovalchuk of Atlanta all scored 41 times to share the Rocket Richard Trophy. The 41 goals were the lowest League-leading total in a full season since Gordie Howe led the NHL with 38 in 1962-63.

4 -- Consecutive times that Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk has won the Lady Byng Trophy. Datsyuk won it from 2006-09, matching Frank Boucher (1928-31) of the New York Rangers for the most consecutive times winning the award.

5 -- Goals scored by Minnesota's Marian Gaborik against the New York Rangers on Dec. 20, 2007. It was the only five-goal game by any player during the entire decade, and the last one in the League since Detroit's Sergei Fedorov had five against Washington on Dec. 26, 1996.

6 -- Norris Trophies won by Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the most times any player won any award during the decade. Lidstrom won from 2001-03, and again from 2006-08

8 -- Consecutive Central Division titles won by the Detroit Red Wings, matching the mark for consecutive first-place finishes set by the Montreal Canadiens from 1974-75 through 1981-82. The Wings also set an NHL record with nine consecutive 100-point seasons.

9 -- Teams that lost the Stanley Cup Final in this decade -- no repeaters. Among them were the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings, the only teams to make three appearances in the Final from 2000-09. Both teams had chances to repeat as champs but lost in a seven-game Final.

14 -- Players who reached the 500-goal mark for their careers during the 2000s. Detroit's Pat Verbeek was the first, on March 22, 2000. Keith Tkachuk of St. Louis was the most recent, getting his 500th on April 6, 2008. Tkachuk had one other distinction -- he was the only one of the 14 to reach the milestone by scoring into an empty net.

16 -- 50-goal seasons during the decade (not counting Pavel Bure's 58-goal performance in 1999-2000). Ovechkin led the way with three, while Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jaromir Jagr and Dany Heatley all had two.

18 -- Age (actually 18 years, 8 months) of Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby when he became the youngest player in NHL history to break the 100-point mark with 102 points in 2005-06. Crosby, taken No. 1 overall by the Penguins in 2005, became the youngest scoring champion in NHL history and the only teenager to lead any major North American sports league in scoring in 2007-08.

18 -- Players who reached the 1,000-point mark for their careers during the 2000s. The list is bookended by a pair of Red Wings: Verbeek was the first of the decade, with an assist on Feb. 27, 2000, and Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was the most recent, becoming the first European defenseman to break the 1,000 mark with an assist on Oct. 15, 2009.

24 -- 100-point seasons from 2000-09, with 14 of them coming in 2006-07 (7) and 2007-08 (7). Joe Thornton, Crosby and Ovechkin were tops with three apiece; Jaromir Jagr, Dany Heatley, Joe Sakic and Evgeni Malkin each had two.

44 -- Improvement (in points) by the New York Islanders in 2001-02 from 2000-01, the biggest one-season gain by any team. The Islanders finished with just 52 points in '00-01, but jumped to 96 the following season. The Philadelphia Flyers' gain of 39 points from 2006-07 (56) to 2007-08 (95) was second.

65 -- Regular-season shutouts by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur since Jan. 1, 2000, the most by any goaltender. Brodeur also had 38 shutouts in the 1990s and tied Terry Sawchuk for the most shutouts by a goaltender in NHL history. Roberto Luongo, now with Vancouver after stints with the Islanders and Panthers, is next with 49. Brodeur's shutout total in the 2000s alone would give him the lead among active goaltenders.

65 -- Goals by Ovechkin in 2007-08, the most in a season by any player in the decade. Before Ovechkin's spectacular season, the NHL's last 60-goal scorer was Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux (69) in 1995-96.

96 -- Assists by Thornton in 2005-06, the most by one player in any season and the biggest reason he won the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion with 125 points, also the most by a player in the decade, Thornton's assist total, accumulated despite splitting the season between Boston and San Jose, would have won the 2003-04 scoring title on its own -- Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis topped the NHL that season with 94 points.

124 -- Points by the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06, the most by any team in the decade -- and the most since the Wings piled up 131 in 1995-96. The Wings' total included four bonus points from shootout wins. But even with 120 points, Detroit would have topped the best pre-shootout total -- 118 by the Colorado Avalanche in 2000-01.

161 -- Ties played in 2003-04, the last season before the shootout. A 3-3 deadlock between Philadelphia and the New York Islanders and a 6-6 draw between Carolina and Florida on April 4, 2004, will go down as the last ties in NHL history.

291 -- Selection used by Detroit to take defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in the 2002 Entry Draft. It's the lowest (or highest, depending on your point of view) pick used in this decade to select a player who made it to the NHL.

314 -- Goals (including 2 in shootouts) scored by the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06, the most by any team in any season during the decade. The Senators joined the '05-06 Red Wings (305) and the 2007-08 Buffalo Sabres (308) as the only teams to break the 300-goal barrier from '00-09.

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