Joe Thornton, Ilya Bryzgalov

Jumbo Joe Thornton scores 1000th NHL point in Phoenix

Amidst teams all over the NHL battling for playoff spots on Friday night, the San Jose Sharks watched their captain earn an individual accolade that has been thirteen and a half years in the making. Joe Thornton became the 78th player in NHL history to reach the elusive 1000 point mark in a career—and only the second to do so in a San Jose Sharks jersey (Vincent Damphousse). Ironically, the man known as one of the best playmakers of his generation netted his 306 career goal for the milestone point.  Surely a perfectly set up saucer pass would have been far too predictable.

After the game, it was obvious Thornton would have preferred the victory over an individual accolade. After prodding, Joe Thornton had this to say after the game about scoring his 1000th point:

“You have to be blessed with a good supporting cast and luckily I’ve been blessed with a lot of good friends and family and good linemates and good players to play along. There are so many different variables that go into getting that many points.”

 

The former #1 overall pick from 1997 is in the middle of a few impressive milestones. Earlier this year, he passed teammate Patrick Marleau for the San Jose franchise record for most assists. On February 22, Jumbo Joe scored his 300th career goal. Unless he has 6 assists against the Coyotes in the season finale, Thornton will celebrate his 700th career assist early next season as well.

In 79 games this season, Thornton has posted 69 points (21 goals, 48 assists). Just as a measure of perspective, his point total is good for 24th in the NHL in scoring. Even more impressive is that these numbers represent an off-year for the #1 pivot. He managed to score his 1000th point in his 994 game—for math majors out there, that’s better than a point per game for the 14 year veteran. In fact, he currently ranks ninth in points and sixth in assists among active players.

For fans that missed it, here’s what the history making goal looked like:

With the numbers that Thornton has been able to put up in his career, it’ll be interesting to see how pundits look at his career when it’s all said and done. If he can stay healthy and continue to produce at this pace for another few years (he’s still only 31 years old), he’s going to be getting up into the elite players of all time. In just three more years at a similar pace, his statistics will be mentioned with Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull, and Bobby Clarke. Of course, it’ll be a lot easier for hockey fans and historians to put him in the same conversation as those greats if he can help the Sharks win a Stanley Cup in the next few years as well.

Regardless of team success, it’s time to start talking seriously about the statistics Thornton has compiled over his career. A couple more years of this and we won’t be talking about a Hall of Famer; we’ll be talking about a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The Ducks look pretty mighty right now after six consecutive wins

Anaheim Ducks v Los Angeles Kings
Getty Images
Leave a comment

In what should be a disturbing trend for every other team in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks have now won six consecutive games, and eight of their last 10.

After dominating the shot clock for pretty much all of Friday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Ducks completely took over on the scoreboard in the third period. It seemed like only a matter of time before a breakthrough would occur.

Just 24 hours after beating the L.A. Kings, the Ducks earned a 5-2 victory over the Coyotes.

Ryan Kesler has eight points in his last six games. Corey Perry has seven points in his last six games. Patrick Maroon, who had only eight points all season prior to Friday, had a three-point night versus Arizona.

Again. Bad news for every other team in the Pacific.

The Ducks now have a three-point lead over the Coyotes for third place in the division. They’re one point back of second-place San Jose and eight back of division-leading L.A.

As for everyone else, more specifically the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, well it might be time to start focusing more on the upcoming trade deadline and, beyond that, the draft.

The Ducks had a terrible start to this season, one that started with so much hype about a team seen as an immediate Stanley Cup contender for 2015-16.

Count Corey Perry as one who believes those early season struggles could pay off at playoff time.

And remember all of that talk in October about Bruce Boudreau perhaps at the end of his days as coach of the Ducks?

At the end of October, GM Bob Murray vowed to be patient despite such a poor start just a few months after being one win away from the Stanley Cup Final last June.

There is still plenty of hockey remaining in the regular season. The Ducks have 32 games remaining on their schedule. But it appears that patience Murray showed in October is paying off.

Jets can’t complete the comeback after miserable start against Hurricanes

Colorado Avalanche v Winnipeg Jets
Getty Images
1 Comment

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Phillip Di Giuseppe, Andrej Nestrasil, Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk scored in the first period, and the Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

The Hurricanes scored four times on their first nine shots, taking a 4-0 lead just 10:04 into the game. Nestrasil added another goal in the third period, and Cam Ward made 33 saves. Staal and Joakim Nordstrom each had a pair of assists.

Alexander Burmistrov, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg.

Jets rookie Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals while facing only six shots before being replaced by Michael Hutchinson after Staal’s power-play goal just 4:33 in. Hutchinson, who hadn’t played since a 4-1 loss in Anaheim on Jan. 3, finished with 21 saves.

The loss wrapped up Winnipeg’s season-high six-game homestand, which included just one victory.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.17.42 PM

Carolina’s first goal came after the Jets turned over the puck and Di Giuseppe scored on a sharp-angled shot at 1:43.

Hellebuyck then kicked out a bad rebound and Nestrasil tallied his 16th goal of the season in his 100th NHL game from almost the same angle at 3:05.

With Byfuglien in the penalty box for delay of game, Staal’s shot beat Hellebuyck, ending the young goalie’s night.

Faulk made it 4-0 when his team’s third shot at Hutchinson went between his pads at 10:04.

The Jets came out at a faster, more aggressive pace to start the second period and it paid off with 1:25 remaining.

Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn were battling a pair of Hurricanes behind the net when Thorburn poked the puck out front as he was falling and Burmistrov got his sixth goal of the season.

Ladd, who hit the post late in the second period, banged home a rebound with Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner off for hooking at 9:07 of the third.

Byfuglien one-timed a pass from Nikolaj Ehlers that Wheeler deflected to make it 4-3 with 6:12 remaining.

Nestrasil sealed the win with his second goal at 18:40.

NOTES: Ehlers’ assist extended his point streak to six games, with four goals and four assists. … Winnipeg heads out for a two-game road trip starting in Colorado on Saturday. Carolina visits Montreal on Sunday.

Video: Zatkoff robs Condra with sprawling paddle save

Leave a comment

All Erik Condra had to do was lift the puck off the ice.

He didn’t, and as a result, he was robbed by sprawled out Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who made a spectacular desperation save with the paddle of his stick on the Lightning forward.

The save occurred just past the midway point of the third period. That kept the Penguins in the game, down by a goal at the time.

However, the Penguins couldn’t get the equalizer. The result was a 6-3 loss for Pittsburgh, as Tampa Bay scored twice later in the period.

Defending Eastern Conference champion Bolts continue hot streak

508639400
Getty Images
1 Comment

Remember those distractions the Tampa Bay Lightning had to endure?

— The future of captain Steven Stamkos, who is a pending unrestricted free agent and whose contract situation has been an ongoing discussion point for months now.

Jonathan Drouin‘s camp publicly requesting a trade, then having the 20-year-old forward sent to the minors and then suspended by Tampa Bay, etc.

Well, through it all, the defending Eastern Conference champions have emerged and are now one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League . Since the start of January, the Bolts have lost twice. In 13 games.

They continued their hot streak Friday, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins — another of those teams on an impressive streak — by a final score of 6-3, with Tyler Johnson leading the way with three points. He was one of six Tampa Bay players to record a multi-point night.

Penguins’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

Tampa Bay is now five points behind the Florida Panthers for first in the Atlantic Division.

For the Penguins, the loss keeps them on the outside of the playoff bubble for now. They remain one point back of New Jersey for the final Wild Card spot in the East.

Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to nine games. He also has goals in five straight and is one point shy of 900 for his career.