We’re a quarter of the way through the NHL season and 1984 never felt so far away.
That was the year the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers finally halted the New York Islanders’ post-season winning ways at 19 consecutive series victories, denying the Isles a fifth straight Cup.
This year both teams are playing like a bunch of guys who are doing well to remember the cup goes in the front.
The ineptitude of the Islanders and Oilers is one story at the 20-game mark, but there are more. Here’s a couple that caught our attention:
STAMKOS TO GET 50 GOALS IN 50 GAMES?
I’m a big believe-it-when-I-see-it guy, which in many ways runs counter to my professional duty of trying to inform hockey fans of things they might soon see. That said, it’s getting tougher and tougher to not believe Steven Stamkos can be the first player to pot 50 in 50 since Brett Hull in 1991-92. (Alexander Mogilny, Cam Neely and Mario Lemieux – twice – have scored 50 goals in 50 games since then, but because they didn’t do it by their team’s 50th game, it doesn’t go into the history books.)
If ‘Stammer’ even makes a legitimate run at the mark, it will be the most exciting regular season occurrence since Teemu Selanne smashed Mike Bossy’s single-season rookie goal-scoring record in 1992-93.
THE SCARY FLYERS FORWARDS
Philadelphia’s forwards are scary-good. And good on the Flyers scouts for identifying impact players who were passed over by other clubs. Since ’03, Philadelphia has drafted Jeff Carter (11th overall), Claude Giroux (22nd) and Mike Richards (24th) in the mid-to-late first round. Now, second-rounder Andreas Nodl is discovering his scoring touch with six points in his past eight games.
Ironically, the one forward who is struggling to find his touch, James van Riemsdyk, was drafted second overall behind Patrick Kane in 2007. The 21-year-old finally broke through for his first goal of the year Monday and has four points in his past three contests. As a 6-foot-3, 200-pound projected power forward, you wonder if he may just be starting to find his game now in his second year. Then, if you’re a fan of any other Eastern Conference team, you shudder at the thought.
NICKLAS LIDSTROM THE ALIEN
Forget drug testing in sports, can somebody check to make sure Nicklas Lidstrom is definitely a human being?
LEAFS LOSE EARLY-SEASON TOUCH
When the Leafs were 4-0-0 the, “Are they for real?” question was one you couldn’t avoid in Toronto. My stock answer was, “Close your eyes and open them after they’ve played 20 games. There’s your answer.” The streaky Buds are 8-9-3 at the aforementioned checkpoint, which, all things considered, is probably right where they should be.
BLUE JACKETS PILING UP THE POINTS
The LeBron James-led Miami Heat have an NBA winning percentage of .571 after 14 games. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ points percentage after 19 outings is .684. I don’t care if it’s apples and oranges, pucks and balls – that is awesome, even if you’re not from Ohio.
See you at the half.
THN Puck Panel: Surprises and disappointments at the one-quarter pole
PRODUCER: Ted Cooper | EDITOR: Mark Gougeon
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.