Key numbers as the NHL approaches its 50,000th game

After 93 years of existence, the NHL approaches a rare milestone for sports leagues: between playoff and regular season games, it will reach its 50,000th game played tonight.

NHL.com’s John Kreiser points out that, much like that first opening night game way back on December 19, 1917, the Maple Leafs will play against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kreiser collected some of the most important and interesting numbers from the first 50,000 games in this article.

Obviously, we’ll go beyond the most obvious stats such as most wins (Canadiens with 3,072) and Stanley Cup victories (the Canadiens again, with 23 Cups). (The Leafs, meanwhile, are the first team to lose 2,500 games on October 21 according to Kreiser.)

Here are some of the other highlights from Kreiser.

Filling the net — Not surprisingly, the Canadiens do this better than anyone else. Despite Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Nashville, they enter the weekend with 19,550 regular-season goals — no other team has reached 19,000. Montreal is one of a dozen NHL teams that have reached the 10,000-goal club (excluding shootouts); the Calgary Flames are poised to become No. 13. The Flames have 9,986 non-shootout goals since entering the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972.

[snip]

* Mark Messier played in 1,992 of the first 50,000 games, more than anyone else. Gordie Howe has the regular-season mark with 1,767, 19 more than Messier. But the former Oiler and Rangers star more than made up the difference in the playoffs.

* Messier was part of the five highest-scoring teams in NHL history. The Oilers scored between 401 and 446 goals in the five seasons from 1981-82 to 1985-86, with their record of 446 in 1983-84 untouched for 26 years.

* Of all the records that could last through the next 50,000 games, Doug Jarvis’ mark for consecutive games played has to be near the top of the list. Jarvis played 964 in a row from October 1975 to October 1987.

Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately demeaning such efforts unsuccessful.

So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.