With his recent hat trick, Jonathan Cheechoo has joined an elite group of goal scorers.
His eight hat tricks in the past two seasons has matched the highest number of hat tricks in a two season span since 1991. Only Pavel Bure (1999-2001), Mario Lemieux (1995-1997), Brett Hull (1991-1993) and Alexander Mogilny (1991-1993 and 1992-1994) have managed the eight hat trick over two seasons mark.
Moreover, Cheechoo has scored 12 goals in his last 10 games also putting him in an elite group. The only others to score more than 10 goals in 10 games were Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, 13 (Jan.30 – Feb.21) and Washington’s Alexander Semin, 12 (Jan. 4-27).
One of the underlying factors in Jonathan Cheechoo’s success has been the stellar play by linemate Joe Thornton
. Thornton needs just two assist over the season’s final three games to become only the third player in NHL history to have back-to-back 90-assist seasons. The other two players in NHL history to have recorded such a feat, Wayne Gretzky (12-in-a-row, 1980-81 through 1991-1992) and Mario Lemieux (1987-88 and 1988-89).
Defenseman Matt Carle joins the crowd as another Sharks player to post catching numbers in 2006-07. Carle and Dion Phaneuf (2005-06) are the only rookie defensemen with 40-plus points in one season since 1997-98, the only rookie defensemen with 11-plus goals in their first season since 1993-94, and the only rookie defensemen with 8-plus power play goals in their first season since 1991-92.
All of these numbers have led to a red hot year and a superb March. The Sharks posted a 10-2-2 record during March, notching 22 of the possible 28 points. The hot month has allowed San Jose to pull within four points of the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division and has put this year’s Sharks in position to tie and possibly surpass their franchise record of 104 points. The remaining games on the year are at Anaheim (April 4), and at home versus the Calgary Flames (April 5) and the Vancouver Canucks (April 7).
In order to win the Pacific Division, the Sharks must also contend with the Dallas Stars. The Stars will face the Blues at home tonight the Blue Jackets on the road (April 5) and at home again versus the Ducks (April 6) and Blackhawks (April 8). The Ducks three remaining games are at home versus the Sharks and on the road against Dallas and Columbus (April 7).
With efforts like these from from Cheechoo, Thornton, and Carle the Sharks will be looking to go deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and possibly all the way.