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Behind The Numbers

Marian Hossa's 500 goals don't tell whole story

Analytics show Chicago forward, who played in low-scoring era, is among all-time top scorers

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent

With a goal in the Chicago Blackhawks' 7-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at United Center on Tuesday, Marian Hossa became the 44th player to score 500 NHL goals. He's the eighth Europe-born player and the fourth active to reach the milestone.

A look behind the numbers reveals some interesting details of how Hossa's versatility and consistency helped him get to 500 goals, and that he may rank among the top 20 goal-scorers of all time when adjusted for the relative difficulty of scoring in the modern era.

Unlike other players who have scored 500 goals, Hossa did not rely on a few peak seasons. In his 18 previous NHL seasons, the wing finished in the top 10 in goals four times. He never finished higher than fourth, which he did in 2002-03 when he scored a personal NHL-best 45 goals for the Ottawa Senators.

Instead, Hossa scored 500 goals through durability and consistency. He scored at least 30 goals eight times and finished with 29 three times. There are 13 players in NHL history who have scored at least 29 goals in a season more often than Hossa.

Hossa's versatility as a player comes through in his scoring, which was produced in all manpower situations. He has 328 goals at even-strength, 139 on the power play and 33 shorthanded, which is tied with Brian Rolston for No. 13 since they were first recorded in the 1963-64 season. Also in that time, Hossa's 78 game-winning goals is tied with four other players for No. 28.

Video: Can't Miss: Marian Hossa notches 500th career goal

The majority of Hossa's scoring came during his time with Ottawa and Chicago, where he has spent 15 of his 19 NHL seasons. He scored three goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins, 40 with the Detroit Red Wings, 108 with the Atlanta Thrashers, 188 with Ottawa and 161 with Chicago.

Hossa became the fifth player to score his 500th goal with the Blackhawks, tying the Detroit Red Wings for the most. Bobby Hull was the first, on Feb. 21, 1970, then Stan Mikita on Feb. 27, 1977, Michel Goulet on Feb. 16, 1992, and Peter Bondra on Dec. 22, 2006.

Hossa's favorite opponent has been the Florida Panthers, against whom he has scored 32 goals in 55 games. That's in contrast to the Montreal Canadiens, against whom he has scored 10 goals in 50 games.

December has been Hossa's least favorite month for scoring; he's averaged 0.30 goals per game and a .092 shooting percentage. That compares to 0.46 goals per game and .132 shooting percentage in November, and 0.46 goals per game and .142 shooting percentage in January.

Where does Hossa rank all time? He scored his 500th goal in his 1,240th game; of the 44 players with 500 goals, it took him the 39th-most games to get there. But in truth, he could be one of the top 20 goal-scorers of all time.

Among active NHL players, Hossa ranks No. 4, behind Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers (749 goals), Jarome Iginla of the Colorado Avalanche (612), and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (526).

Among Europe-born players, Hossa is No. 8 all-time, three goals behind fellow Slovakia native Bondra, who scored 503 goals. The highest-scoring player born in Slovakia (though he was raised in Canada) is Mikita, who scored 541 goals. Jagr is the highest-scoring Europe-born player of all-time.

Video: A look back at the career of Marian Hossa

When comparing Hossa's scoring achievements to players throughout NHL history, it's important to consider that the start of his career with the Senators in the 1997-98 season coincided with the beginning of an era when goal-scoring dropped from more than three goals per team per game throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, to the modern-day level of about 2.7 goals per game. That means that it was much more difficult for Hossa to score 500 goals than for those who played in a higher-scoring era.

The most common way to level the playing field is to adjust a player's goal totals for the different scoring levels throughout history by dividing each season's total by the League-wide average of goals per game that season, then multiplying that by the modern standard of 2.7 goals per game.

Going back to the NHL expansion of 1967-68, Hossa's 500 goals are tied for 36th. But it improves to No. 20 after adjusting every player's goals to modern scoring levels. Hossa also improves to No. 6 among European players, passing Bondra and Jari Kurri, who had the advantage of playing in the higher-scoring 1980s.

How many more goals does Hossa have left in the tank?

His offensive numbers have been in a sharp decline, dropping from 30 goals and a shooting percentage of .124 in 2013-14 to 22 goals and 8.9 percent in 2014-15, and down to 13 goals and 6.8 percent in 2015-16. At 37 years old, he may have one more good season left.

Reaching the 500-goal mark may be the crowning achievement in Hossa's highly accomplished career, and one that cements his status as one of the greatest goal-scorers in NHL history.

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