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Can Stamkos score 50 in 48?

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Last year, Steven Stamkos became just the second player in 16 years to score 60 goals in a season.

This year, he already has seven goals through eight games and, as a result, has hockey fans buzzing about the possibility of 50 in 48.

“Yeah, it’s been brought up on Twitter every day,” Stamkos told the Tampa Tribune. “It’s obviously flattering, that people think that. I’m more of a realist. But you’ve got to set the bar high.

“I want to score every game, obviously. It’s something I know is probably not going to happen.”

At his current pace, Stamkos is projected to finish with 42 goals, which would be a wildly impressive total considering Peter Bondra captured the last 48-game season scoring race with 34 tallies.

The reason Stamkos’ run at 50 is getting so much buzz is twofold. One, he’s the NHL’s premier sniper — he finished first in goals last year and second in 2010-11.

Two, the “50 in 50” plateau has long been one of the league’s most illustrious marks.

It was first achieved by Maurice Richard during the 1944-45 season, then duplicated nearly 40 years later when Islanders forward Mike Bossy scored 50 in 50 during the 1980-81 campaign.

After Bossy, the mark started to fall like dominoes.

Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games (1981-82), 42 games (1983-34) and 49 games (1984-85), with 50 in 39 regarded as one of the most impressive feats in league history.

Mario Lemieux got in on the action during the 1988-89 season (50 in 46), followed by two years of Brett Hull’s sniping (50 in 49 during the 1990-91 season, 50 in 50 during 1991-92).

And then there are the unofficial 50 in 50 guys:

— Jari Kurri scored 50 in 50 games of the 1984-85 season, but it was Edmonton’s 53rd game of the year.

— Alex Mogilny scored 50 in 46 games in 1992-93, but it was Buffalo’s 53rd game. (Mogilny went on to score 76 in 77 that year.)

— Lemieux had two unofficial 50 in 50 seasons: 1992-93 (50 in 48, Pittsburgh’s 72nd game) and 1995-96 (50 in 50, Pittsburgh’s 59th.)

– Cam Neely scored 50 in 44 for Boston during the 1993-94 season, but it came in his team’s 66th game.

Stamkos said he’s honored to be mentioned in such company.

“For them to think that is obviously the ultimate compliment,” he explained. “To think I’m capable of that, that they expect that from me.”

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.