NHL celebrates its 50,000th game
The NHL will celebrate its 50,000th game Nov. 20 after launching on Dec. 19, way back in 1917. A lot has happened over the past 93 years as the game has often gone in cycles with the emphasis sometimes being on offense and sometimes on defence. There were over eight goals a game scored on average in 1943-44 and 1981-82, and just 4.79 goals a game in 1952-53 and 5.14 during the 2003-04 season.
Way back in 1918-19 teams just played an 18-game schedule and from 1992 to 1994 they were all the way up to an 84 game schedule. Teams now play 82 games per season. During the era of the Original Six teams, which was from 1942 to 1967, you could capture the Stanley Cup by winning just eight playoff games. That has now doubled as teams need to win 16 post-season games to hoist the Cup. In fact, if all of a club’s playoff rounds went the seven-game distance, they could play as many as 28 playoff matches in a season.
There have been a lot of highlights since the league began and so far the Montreal Canadiens have enjoyed the most success. Over 5,793 regular-season games, Montreal has won 3,072 of them. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who have played one game less than Montreal have won 2,606 times. However, the Boston Bruins, who have played 160 fewer times than Montreal and Toronto, have the second most regular-season wins with a total of 2,772.
Montreal has won the Stanley Cup 23 and Toronto 13. However, the Leafs haven’t even made a cup final appearance since last winning it in 1966-67 Montreal also holds the record for most playoff games with 702 and playoff wins with 407. Toronto was the first club to lose 2,500 games when they were beaten by the New York Rangers earlier this season.
Montreal also leads the league when it comes to goals as they’ve scored 19,550 of them in regular-season action while no other team has hit 19,000 yet. Twelve teams have hit 10,000-goals though. Montreal has tied the most games in history with 837 of them and this will likely stand as the league now uses overtime and shootouts to decide a winner in all games. Since overtime was introduced in regular season in 2005-06, 828 games out of 6,423 have gone into overtime.
As far as personal achievements go, Mark Messier played a total of 1,992 games (season and playoffs), the most in history, with Gordie Howe owning the regular-season record of 1,767, which is just 19 more games than Messier. Doug Jarvis played in 964 consecutive games between October 1975 and October 1987.
Of course it’s hard to compare some records as the league has expanded several times over the years and now has 30 teams. However, it’ll be interesting to see how many records will be broken over the coming years.