With the hot start this year for Steven Stamkos it has many people asking if he could possibly reach the feat of scoring 50 goals in 50 games. Since then Sidney Crosby has turned it up a notch and firmly placed his name into the conversation as well.
This record has always drawn a lot of attention as great goal scorers always seem to capture the imagination of fans. This achievement is so rare it has only ever been accomplished by five people.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard was the first to accomplish the feat in 1944-45 with the Montreal Canadiens. He scored his 50th goal in game number 50 and many people felt that was a record that would never be equalled.
It would take 35 years for Mike Bossy to prove them wrong. In 1980-81 Bossy scored 50 in 50 for the New York Islanders. He went into his 50th game with 48 goals and the task looked to be slipping away but he scored twice in the games final five minutes.
It didn’t take as long for Bossy’s accomplishment to be repeated and broken. The very next year Wayne Gretzky shattered the record by getting his 50th goal in game 39 for the Edmonton Oilers. What makes this even more amazing is that going into his 38th game that year Gretzky only had 41 goals. That night he scored four goals and in his next game he got five resulting in a lot of his family missing the moment as no one expected such a scoring explosion, even from the Great One. By game 50 he had an astounding 61 goals and finished the season with a since untouchable 92. Gretzky would go on to do it twice more in his storied career during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.
The final two players to reach the mark were Mario Lemieux with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1998-89 and Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues in 1990-91 and 1991-92. There were also four players (Lemieux Jari Kurri, Alexander Mogilny and Cam Neely) who accomplished it unofficially. These players did score 50 goals in their first 50 games but not their teams. If players miss time due to injury and do not achieve it in the teams first 50 games of the year then the NHL does not officially recognize it.
So is there a realistic chance that either Crosby or Stamkos could get it done this season?
After tonight’s play Stamkos has 21 goals in 27 games. That would mean he would have to get 29 goals in the next 23 games. I would say that would be extremely unlikely even for a sniper like Stamkos. His hot start has tailed off lately and Tampa Bay heads out on a tough Western Canadian road trip where he will have to face Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo. Unless Stamkos really does something big in the next few games he won’t be able to pull it off.
Crosby has 23 goals in 28 games including a pair tonight. That means he needs 27 in 22 games which is a bit easier then Stamkos but still doubtful. Crosby has a couple of things going for him however. Consider this, Pittsburgh is playing better then anybody right now having won nine straight. Crosby has eight goals in his last four games including two hat-tricks and Pittsburgh’s next two games are at home against two of the leagues worst teams in the Leafs and Devils. This would probably if nothing else keep up his pace and allow the debate to continue for another week or so.
In today’s game I don’t see anyone reaching 50 goals in 50 games in the near future. Even in the so called “new” NHL with scoring on the rise. The totals simply do not compare with the flood of rubber hitting the mesh in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Back then hat-tricks and multiple goal games just happened more regularly then they do now. Other factors like the Neutral Zone Trap and the obscene increase in goalie equipment makes me think we may never see it happen ever again.
The fact that there is a discussion worth having about 50 in 50 for the first time in years means good things for goal scoring. Fans are always enamoured with records and chasing the seemingly unattainable and this mark falls into that category.
Let’s take solace in the fact that we at least get to have a discussion this year and have something to watch out for even if they don’t quite hit the target.