Stunning numbers: Sidney Crosby at 1,000 NHL games

Sidney Crosby will play in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday night when the Penguins host the Islanders. To mark that occasion we are going to take a look back at some stunning numbers he has compiled throughout his career through the first 1,000 games.

Here is what stands out.

The basics, awards, and milestones

• Three time Stanley Cup champion, two-time NHL MVP, two-time scoring champion, two-time Rocket Richard winner, two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, two-time Pearson/Lindsay award winner, two-time Olympic gold medalist (with a golden goal).

Only three players in league history have won at least two Hart Trophies, two scoring titles, two Pearson/Lindsay awards, two Conn Smythes, and led the league in goals at least two times: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby.

• Sidney Crosby will be the 349th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games, and the first member of the Penguins to reach the milestone.

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• Since entering the NHL in 2005 Crosby has been one of the league’s most productive players, and for a significant chunk of that time the best player in hockey. Among the numbers he has compiled…

He is second in goals (468), assists (808), total points (1,276) and points per game (1.28).

Among those numbers, he is only 25 assists behind Joe Thornnton and only 16 points behind Ovechkin despite the fact he has played in more than 130 fewer games than both players. He was by far the points per game leader until Connor McDavid came along.

• Among his all-time ranks he is currently 55th in goals, 32nd in assists, 37th in total points, and seventh in points per game. The only six players ahead of him are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Bobby Orr, Connor McDavid, and Marcel Dionne.

The what-ifs

The biggest reason he does not rank higher in some of those all-time categories (or even claim the top spot among his era) is that the prime years of his career are a giant “what if” due to injuries and a lockout that robbed him of a significant portion of his prime years.

Crosby was at his absolute best in the NHL for the three-year run between 2010-11 and 2012-13 when he was playing at a level that nobody — and I mean nobody — in the league was even close to matching at that time. It was like he was dropped into the mid 2000s from a different era.

Consider the numbers…

• Between the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons, his age 23-25 seasons, he was limited to just 99 out of a possible 212 regular season games (two 82-game seasons and a 48-game lockout shortened season). That is less than 47 percent of the games he could have played. That was the stretch where he had the concussion and neck injuries, and then a broken jaw when he was hit in the face by a puck.

• His production during that time was like something out of a video game.

Between the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons he averaged 1.61 point per game, by far the highest total in the league.

Only eight other players in the league averaged more than one point per game during that stretch, and only four of them (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, and Martin St. Louis) averaged more than 1.10 points per game.

The closest player to Crosby during that stretch was Malkin, who was averaging 1.20 points per game. That is a 0.41 per game gap. How significant is that gap? The gap between Sidney Crosby and Malkin in the first and second spots was the same as the gap between Malkin (second place) and Patrick Marleau … who was in 50th place.

[MORE: McDavid matches Crosby by reaching 500 points in 369 games]

Let’s break a down even further.

During that three-year stretch he averaged 4.62 points (all situations) per 60 minutes of actual ice-time. Dating back to the start of the 2007-08 season that is by far and away the best, most productive, and most efficient three-year stretch in the league. Here are the rest of the top-10 (minimum 99 games played) since then. The only players with a three-year stretch that are above even four points per 60 minutes are Nikita Kucherov and … Sidney Crosby.

It is entirely possible, if not likely, that playing in more games during that stretch would have lowered some of his averages (per game and per minute) because it would have increased the likelihood of a scoring slump. Nobody is immune to those, not even Crosby. But he was also at an age where scorers tend to hit their peak levels of production, and if you look at the three-year stretches before and after that 2010-13 run he was still well above the rest of the league at that time.

[Per minute data in this post via Natural Stat Trick]

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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    NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

    “It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

    Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

    “It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

    The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

    Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

    John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

    “Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

    Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

    “That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

    Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

    Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

    The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

    “You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

    Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

    NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: At Vancouver.

    Devils: At the New York Rangers.

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.