In honor of the New Jersey Devils hosting the St. Louis Blues on "Video Game Night" at Prudential Center on Friday, here are some video game-centric numbers ahead of what's sure to be an evening of 1980s and 1990s nostalgia.
There have been 15 NHL players with the first name of "Mario," the same as Nintendo's flagship character. By far, the most regular-season points by any of those players are the 1,723 (690 goals, 1,033 assists) by Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux (sometimes nicknamed "Super Mario," to match the popular game series). The NHL has also had one player with the surname "Mario": Frank Mario, a forward, had 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 53 games for the Boston Bruins in 1941-42 and 1944-45.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach shares the same name as one of the most popular playable characters in the "Super Smash Bros." series. One other player with the same first name also played in the NHL: Kirby Law, a forward, had one assist in nine games for the Philadelphia Flyers from 2001-04.
Max Pacioretty owns several nicknames, including "Pac-Man." After being acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 10, 2018, the forward was welcomed to T-Mobile Arena by fans with signs depicting the titular protagonist from the 1980s arcade game.
Several NHL goalies have paid homage to video games throughout the years in the form of artwork. Among them are Ilya Bryzgalov, who had a "Sonic the Hedgehog"-themed mask or John Gibson donning a helmet depicting the image of the iconic dog from "Duck Hunt."
Greatest sports game ever?
Then there's "NHL 94," often referred to as the greatest sports video game of all time. The game, launched following the 1992-93 season, celebrated its 26th anniversary in October. The cover featured Los Angeles Kings forward Tomas Sandstrom and Boston Bruins goalie Andy Moog; in real life, Sandstrom scored six goals of his 394 goals in the 17 games he faced Moog, who finished his NHL career with 372 wins.
Staples Center organist Dieter Ruehle has been known to pay tribute to "The Legend of Zelda" by serenading Kings fans with the "Overworld" theme as well as other songs from the video game franchise. The only players still active in the NHL who had skated at least one game when "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" was released in North America on Nov. 23, 1998, are Patrick Marleau of the Pittsburgh Penguins (91 games played, all with the San Jose Sharks), Joe Thornton of the Sharks (71 games, all with the Boston Bruins) and Zdeno Chara of the Bruins (25 games, all with the New York Islanders). All three players made their NHL debuts in the fall of 1997.