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?

Kraft Hockeyville: Blues beat Penguins in tune-up for season-opener

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Much like Sunday night, the St. Louis Blues will visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a game in Pennsylvania on Oct. 4. With that in mind, the more heated moments from tonight’s Kraft Hockeyville preseason match might be fresh on the minds of both teams when the games start to count.

In this case, the Blues carried the play from a variety of perspectives, including the final score of 4-1.

The Penguins got the first goal when Jake Guentzel finished a nice one-timer sequence set by Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, yet St. Louis was able to leverage its possession advantages to goals that beat Matt Murray up high.

The first one came from a familiar face in Vladimir Tarasenko, who aims for a Maurice Richard Trophy in 2017-18.

The game-winner was from 19-year-old Jordan Kyrou:

Paul Stastny then iced the game with a 3-1 empty-netter with a little less than 30 seconds remaining. Dmitrij Jaskin then made it 4-1 with a nice, patient score with Murray sprawling on the ice.

Carter Hutton deserves credit for a sharp win, but the final score didn’t do Murray’s alert evening justice, as the Blues fired 45 shots on him. This was probably the save of the contest:

While the Blues and Penguins wanted to be alert in this one, the stuff they might remember came down to rougher moments. Things started to escalate when Crosby mixed it up with Alex Pietrangelo.

As a preseason contest, some of this will likely be forgotten by veteran Penguins and Blues, but the people of Cranberry, Pa. and Belle Vernon, Pa. won’t soon forget the Kraft Hockeyville experience.

WATCH LIVE: Kraft Hockeyville featuring Penguins vs. Blues

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are set to host the St. Louis Blues to celebrate the latest edition of Kraft Hockeyville USA, with the game beginning at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Find out more about Kraft Hockeyville winner Belle Vernon, Pa. in the video above this post’s headline (and also in this post). The game itself is taking place at UPMC Lemieux Sports complex in Cranberry, Pa.

NHL.com captures some of the spectacle, as about 2,000 fans showed up and players signed autographs during what sounded like a very fun event.

Speaking of very fun, all signs point to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being among those players suiting up for the game itself.

Predators marvel at Fiala’s ‘beautiful’ work in preseason win

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Confession: It was difficult to shake the memory of Kevin Fiala‘s frightening injury from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you need a reminder of the scary moment that ended what seemed like a breakthrough run, the video can be seen above this headline.

Another confession: personally, there’s been some concern about how well Fiala can bounce back, at least early on. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the young forward is his blazing speed; what if that’s been taken away from him?

Now, scoring two goals in the Nashville Predators’ 5-3 preseason win against the Columbus Blue Jackets doesn’t mean Fiala will avoid missing a beat in 2017-18.

Forgive Predators fans for getting excited, anyway, especially with goals like these.

Wow.

Filip Forsberg got borderline-romantic about what Fiala did on Sunday, and again, can you really blame him?

Again, the true tests for both Fiala and the Predators begin in October. Still, it’s better to look impressive at this time of the year instead of to go in slow (or injured, as the unlucky St. Louis Blues seem to be doing).

Gaudreau, other NHL players approve of crackdown on slashing

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When slash after slash broke one of Johnny Gaudreau‘s fingers, he called it part of the game.

The Calgary Flames winger known as “Johnny Hockey” is one of the NHL’s most marketable players, so broken bones should be a problem.

Slashing has become such a regular element in NHL games that it necessitated 791 minor penalties last season with countless more going uncalled. Gaudreau’s broken finger and Marc Methot‘s lacerated pinkie brought enough attention to the issue that the league is taking a stronger stand on flagrant slashing this year to cut down on injuries and obstruction.

“I think it’s tough for the refs to make those calls in games: You don’t really know how bad a slash is,” said Gaudreau, who sat out two and a half weeks after surgery to repair a fractured finger on his left hand. “But if they can harp down or look at it a little more closely, I think it might cause a little less injuries. Guys won’t be missing substantial time. I think it’d be huge.”

It was impossible to ignore slashing when Sidney Crosby sliced Methot’s finger open during a game in March, forcing the defenseman to miss three weeks. No penalty was called, and Crosby didn’t receive any supplemental discipline.

After members of the league’s competition committee recommended a closer look at slashing, officials have been instructed that it’s OK to call it more this season. NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom said the rise in slashing over the past decade came about after the stricter enforcement of hooking and holding following the 2004-05 lockout with players finding new tactics to slow the game down.

“Players started slashing in between the hands and on the hands, and the whacking became hacking became something that became the norm in the game,” Walkom said. “It’s time to have a stronger enforcement to let the players know what they can and can’t do. If you’re going to be whacking a player’s hands six, eight feet from the puck, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be penalized if it’s seen by the officials on the ice.”

So many slashing penalties were called in the first few preseason games that it was somewhat comical. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere understands slashing but said he doesn’t know if it should be a penalty when no one knows why the whistle was blown.

Walkom sent a note reminding referees that the intent was to focus on slashes around the hands, not every time a player’s stick hits an opponent in the heavily-padded pants. Slashing at players’ hands will not only be an area of emphasis on the ice but also from the league office where new vice president of player safety George Parros is watching closely.

The former enforcer said slashes delivered with greater force or directed at players’ fingers will be met with fines and/or suspensions.

“We’re going to try and change player behavior,” Parros said. “We’re certainly trying to get rid of a pattern of a certain type of slash. If that’s like a harder slash on the fingertips as opposed to maybe in the elbow pad or something, that might be something we look at. And if it’s a pattern of a certain type of location slash or if it’s a pattern of a player, we’re going to look to eliminate both of those.”

Reducing unnecessary injuries is just one piece of this tighter enforcement. As with the crackdown on the hooking, holding and interference that mucked games up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, fewer slashes should open the ice up for offensive players at even-strength and potentially lead to more power plays.

“In some ways it’s going to put even bigger premium on getting body position and not being stuck in a position where you have to reach for a guy,” Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner said. “Usually that’s a positive sign for getting more opportunities to produce.”

St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo said he already noticed players slashing less often a few games into the preseason. That’s one of the intended consequences of calling certain types of slashes more.

“The players are the smartest people in the game relative to the game and they will adjust because nobody wants to sit in the penalty box,” Walkom said. “A lot of it’s reflex and habit, but the players will break old habits with a consistent enforcement.”

Old habits die hard, but it’s easier than healing broken bones.

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey