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Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla rank among players eyeing impressive milestones next season

It’s probably safe to say that every player in the NHL will go into the 2011-12 season with a list of goals. Some of the players will keep things a bit vague or just have an eye on the Stanley Cup while others might the be obsessive types to have an actual number of goals or points in mind.

John Kreiser of NHL.com details some of the biggest milestones that players can reach next season. Here are a few of the marks that stand out as especially interesting.

1,000 assists: Jaromir Jagr has a decent chance of becoming the 12th player in NHL history to get more than a thousand assists. He needs 47 to cross that mark, which isn’t too far-fetched; Jagr had 46 in his most recent campaign in 07-08.

500 goals: Jarome Iginla needs 16 goals to reach that rare milestone. It’s hard to imagine him falling short of that mark unless he gets injured. Daniel Alfreddson (389) and Marian Hossa (388) are on the verge of 400.

300 goalie wins: Evgeni Nabokov has 293 while Miikka Kiprusoff has 276, so both have a strong chance at reaching 300 W’s. Tomas Vokoun (262) and Jose Theodore (260) might have a shot if they have outstanding seasons, too.

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Naturally, Kreiser’s list made me wonder if there are some other interesting milestones/historically interesting stat scenarios for next season. Here are some more situations to watch, with help from hockey-reference’s milestones section.

source: Getty ImagesPoints

Vincent Lecavalier (793) is seven points away from the 800-point threshold while his teammate Martin St. Louis only needs 22 to join him there. Dany Heatley, Alex Tanguay, Chris Pronger, Steve Sullivan, Vinny Prospal and Scott Gomez are within striking distance of 700 points.

Jagr needs 42 points to pass Joe Sakic’s 1,641 points for eighth all-time in scoring. Mike Modano could climb quite a few all-time points ranks of his own if he opts to player another season:

15. Bryan Trottier – 1,425
16. Adam Oates – 1,420
17. Doug Gilmour – 1,414
18. Dale Hawerchuk – 1,409
19. Jari Kurri – 1,398
20. Luc Robitaille – 1,394
21. Brett Hull – 1,391
22. Modano – 1,374

It seems like a leap to imagine Modano scoring 52 points next season, but it’s at least in the realm of possibility if he plays again … right? If nothing else, 20th place seems perfectly possible.

source: Getty ImagesGoals

Teemu Selanne and Jagr might slightly affect the way people view their goal scoring genius this season (if Selanne plays, that is). Take a look at where they rank all time in goals scored.

10. Luc Robitaille – 668
11. Brendan Shanahan – 656
12. Jaromir Jagr – 646
13. Dave Andreychuk – 640
14. Teemu Selanne – 637

With that list in mid, Jagr should have three statistical objectives next season: 22 goals (to move to 10th-all time in goals), 46 assists (to reach 1,000 overall) and 42 points (to pass Sakic for eighth all-time). Another Selanne season would almost certainly allow him to move past Andreychuk and likely past Shanahan as well. An especially good one might even leave him in the top 10, depending on how Jagr fares.

Modano could move up the career list, too. He’s currently at 561, good for 23rd all-time. Four more goals would put him ahead of Mats Sundin and Joe Nieuwendyk while 13 more would place him 20th overall ahead of Mike Bossy.

source: APAssists

Joe Thornton is five assists away from 700 all-time.

As far as all-time numbers are concerned, Jagr (953 assists) needs four assists to pass Mark Recchi (13th place) and 14 to pass Doug Gilmour for 12th. He’d have to put together an awesome 64-assist season to pass 11th place Joe Sakic, who has 1,016 assists. Nicklas Lidstrom is 45 assists from the 900 mark and could move up the ranks quite a bit.

18. Trottier – 901
19. Phil Housley – 894
20. Hawerchuk – 891
21. Phil Esposito – 873
22. Denis Savard – 865
23. Lidstrom – 855

Goalie wins

Nikolai Khabibulin and Roberto Luongo can inch up the all-time wins list.

17. Gump Worsley – 335
18. Harry Lumley – 330
19. Sean Burke – 324
20. Khabibulin – 316
21. Luongo – 308

Roggie Vachon’s 16th-ranked 355 wins would probably be out of reach until next season, unless Khabibulin has an outstanding season.

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After looking at this list, here are a few stray thoughts.

  • One can only imagine where Jagr might rank in NHL history if he didn’t make an exodus for the KHL.
  • Modano probably should hang up his skates, but if he doesn’t he could move up history’s ranks.
  • Luongo is only 32 years old. If he stays reasonably healthy, he should be able to pass Chris Osgood’s 401 wins and be in the top 10 all-time in victories by the end of his career. It’s not even crazy to wonder if he could reach the 450-win mark and end up among in the top five.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this extended look at the milestones and potential historical impacts of the 2011-12 season. Are you getting excited for the return of hockey yet?

Video: So, Joe Thornton is pretty stoked about playing in the Stanley Cup Final

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‘Jumbo’ Joe Thornton is off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. The San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

And yeah, the 36-year-old Thornton, a veteran of 1,367 regular season games with 1,341 career regular season points, is pretty excited for both himself and his team when it comes to this feat.

It hasn’t been easy in San Jose. It hasn’t been easy for the franchise, for the fans, for the players, for Thornton or for Patrick Marleau, who is also 36 years old and has played his entire career (1,411 regular season games) in San Jose.

There have been playoff failures and a regular season disappointment last year. There has been a coaching change and harsh words exchanged between Thornton and management — more specifically, GM Doug Wilson — and an organizational decision to remove the captaincy from Thornton.

After all that, however, the Sharks are four wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Did we mention Joe Thornton is excited about the final?

Franchise history: The Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final

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For the first time in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final.

This, after a monumental and historical collapse in the first round to the L.A. Kings two years ago. This, after they failed to make the playoffs a year ago, resulting in a coaching change. There have been other post-season disappointments along the way before that, too.

Those difficult times may never be forgotten. But the Sharks have rebounded, and it culminated with a 5-2 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday. Fans at SAP Center could feel it, too, especially after Joel Ward scored his second goal of the night, giving San Jose a three-goal lead early in the third period.

The Blues attempted a furious comeback but couldn’t quite complete it.

The Sharks this year have eliminated the Kings, Nashville Predators and now the Blues in that order. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

The Sharks got off to the perfect start in the series clincher versus St. Louis. Joe Pavelski recorded his 13th goal, which leads all players in this post-season, and the Sharks continued to roll from there.

Ward increased the lead in the second period and again in the third. His second of the night proved to be the winner. Joonas Donskoi‘s goal, making it 4-0 San Jose before the midway point of the third period, proved critical as the Blues tried to spark a desperation comeback.

The Blues’ leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (40 goals, 74 points in the regular season) was held off the score sheet through the first five games of this series, before finally striking for both St. Louis goals in Game 6.

Penguins, Lightning prepare for the ‘roller coaster’ of Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning checks Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby is in no mood to get caught up in his own personal narrative, the one eager to attach whatever happens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday against Tampa Bay to the superstar’s legacy.

Forget that Crosby has the game-winning goal in each of Pittsburgh’s victories in its entertaining back-and-forth with the resilient Lightning. Forget that he hasn’t been on the winning side of a post-series handshake line this deep into the playoffs since his glorious night in Detroit seven years ago, which ended with him hoisting the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup.

Yes, he’s playing well. Yes, his dazzling, imminently GIF-able sprint through the Tampa Bay zone late in the second period of Game 6 added another signature moment to a career full of them. Yet lifting Pittsburgh back to the Cup final for the first time since 2009 does not rely solely on him so much as the collective effort of all 20 guys in his team’s retro black and Vegas gold uniforms.

Related: Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Depth has carried the Penguins this far. Crosby insists Game 7 will be about the team, not him.

“You give yourself the best chance of winning by keeping it simple and not putting too much emphasis on kind of the story line around it,” Crosby said.

Even if it’s easy to get lost in those story lines. The Lightning are on the verge of a second straight berth in the final despite playing the entire postseason without captain Steven Stamkos and losing Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop in the first period of the conference finals when he twisted his left leg awkwardly while scrambling to get into position.

Yet Tampa Bay has stuck around, ceding the ice to the Penguins for significant stretches but using their speed to counterattack brilliantly while relying on 21-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The Lightning are hardly intimidated by having to go on the road in a series decider. They did it a year ago in the Eastern final against New York, beating the Rangers 2-0 in Madison Square Garden.

“You’ve got to go back to a tough environment, just like the Garden was last year,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “And you’ve got to have your A-game.”

The Lightning hoped to avoid revisiting this spot. They could have closed out Pittsburgh at home but fell behind by three goals and didn’t recover, fitting for a series that appears to be a coin flip as a whole but not so much night to night. The team that’s scored first is 5-1 and there’s only been a single lead change in 18-plus periods spread out over nearly two weeks: Tyler Johnson‘s deflection in overtime that gave Tampa Bay Game 5.

“You always want to play with the lead, and always the first goal is big,” said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-0 in Game 7s. “But, again, we were down 2-0 in Game 5 and came back from that. So it’s not cut in stone, the outcome of the game, no matter if you’re down a goal or two.”

Maybe, but it’d be cutting it pretty close. Tampa Bay’s rally in Game 5 was Pittsburgh’s first loss when leading after two periods all year. The Penguins responded by going back to rookie goaltender Matt Murray – who turned 22 on Wednesday – and putting together perhaps their finest hockey of the postseason. Their stars played like stars while Murray performed like a guy a decade older with his name already etched on the Cup a few times.

The Penguins will need to rely on Murray’s precocious maturity if it wants to buck a curious trend that started well before Murray was born. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a Game 7 on home ice since Mario Lemieux and company beat New Jersey in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs to escape from a 3-2 series deficit and propel the Penguins to their first championship. The Penguins have dropped five straight winner-take-all matchups since then, including a loss to Tampa Bay in the first round in 2011, a series Pittsburgh played without either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, who sat out with injuries.

They’re healthy now and showing extended flashes of the form that seemed to have the Penguins on the brink of a dynasty when they toppled Detroit. And the Lightning, who are 5-1 in Game 7s, are hardly comfortable but hardly intimidated as they play on the road.

“I think it’s a roller coaster,” Cooper said. “But Game 7 is Game 7. There’s no two better words than that.”

Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

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Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.

For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.

The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.

San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.