Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Steve Stamkos aiming to join elite company

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The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos has 20 goals in his first 21 games this season and the third -year player is attempting to become the sixth player in NHL history to score 50 in his team’s first 50 games. Four other players have managed to score 50 in their first 50 games, but not their team’s first 50.

The six players to achieve the feat are Mike Bossy, Maurice Richard, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, and Mario Lemieux. The last season anybody got off to such a flying start was in 2005-06, as the Philadelphia Flyers’ Simon Gagne scored 21 times in his first 21 games and finished the season with 47.

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard of the Montreal Canadiens was the first to reach the feat as he did it in 1944-45 and scored 50 goals in his team’s 50-game season schedule. Richard scored with just over two minutes left in the last game of the season to set the milestone. Ironically, he had a goal disallowed in the previous game.

Richard’s record stood until Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders matched it 35 years later when he scored 50 in 50 games and managed 68 in his 79 games that season. Bossy had also scored 50 goals as a rookie, the first one to do so. He had 573 goals in 10 seasons and then retired at the age of 30 because of back problems. Bossy scored two goals late in the third period in his 50th game to reach the mark.

Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers shattered the record when he scored 50 goals in 39 games in 1981-82 and had a remarkable total of 92 goals in 80 games that season. By the time the Oilers finished their 50th game he had 61 goals. Then in 1983-84 he scored 50 goals in 42 games and had a total of 87 in his 74 season games. Finally, in 1984-85 he scored 50 goals in his team’s first 49 games and had 73 in 80 season games.

Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored 50 goals in 46 games in 1988-89 and finished the season with 85 in 76 season games. Lemieux was a natural scorer as he hit the back of the net in his very first shift in the NHL.

Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues scored 50 goals in 49 games in 1990-91 and had 86 in 78 season games. Then in 1991-92 he scored 50 in 50 and had 70 goals in 73 season games.

Nobody has managed to score 50 goals in 50 games since Hull did it 19 seasons ago. However, Alexander Mogilny, Cam Neely, and Lemieux all scored 50 before 50 games after that, but their teams had already played more than 50 games. Jari Kurri did the same back in 1984-85. Stamkos could very well achieve the mark. Last season he had 51 goals in 82 games.

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