Mark Parrish

NHL Power Rankings: Best season starts in league history

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New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad and Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha are two of the most surprising — and productive — players through the first week of the NHL season.

Zibanejad is already up to eight points in the Rangers’ first two games, while Mantha is coming off a four-goal effort on Sunday and already has seven points (including five goals) for the Red Wings.

With their fast starts in mind, we wanted to use this week’s Power Rankings to take a look back at some of the best individual starts to past seasons.

Which fast starts make the cut?

To the rankings!

1. Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers/Los Angeles Kings (1983-84 and 1988-89). Bless the 1980s NHL and its lack of defense and overmatched goaltenders. Gretzky’s 1983-84 season was one of those truly baffling years where no one could stop him. He opened with 15 points in five games and then went on to record at least one point in each of his first 51 games. He was held without a point in just three games all year! A few years later Gretzky moved to Los Angeles where he posted 13 points in his first five games in 1988-89 as part of a 22-game point streak to open the year.

2. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins (1988-89 and 1992-93). Lemieux was a hockey cheat code in the late ’80s and early ’90s and had two different starts where he recorded at least 17 points in the first five games of a season. He first did it in 1988-89 with nine goals and 10 assists, including an eight-point game in a 9-2 win against the St. Louis Blues. He went on to finish that year with 85 goals, 199 points, and one of the most controversial second place MVP finishes ever. The ’92-93 season was Lemieux at his most dominant, and it began with him putting 17 points on the board in the first five games. He would go on to record at least two points in each of his first 12 games. This was also the year he missed nearly two months battling Hodgkin’s disease, only to return in early March and overcome a 17-point deficit in the scoring race to top Pat LaFontaine for the Art Ross Trophy.

3. Mike Bossy, New York Islanders (1984-85). This was a truly dominant start for one of the best pure goal scorers the league has ever seen. Bossy started the ’84-85 season with nine goals and 18 points in the Islanders’ first five games and he never really slowed down after that. He went on to score at least one goal in each of his first 10 games (including two four-goal efforts) with 32 total points.

4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (2017-18). He opened the Capitals’ Stanley Cup winning season with seven goals in his first two games and nine in his first five. It was the best start to a season in his career. Those are the type of numbers you would have expected from the 1980s era NHL. Doing it during this era, and over the age of 30, was truly incredible.

5. Michel Goulet, Quebec Nordiques (1987-88). Goulet had some massive years for the Nordiques in the 1980s, with the ’87-88 season being one of his best. He finished with 48 goals and 106 points and it all started with a dominant run at the start that saw him score six goals to go with 12 assists in his first five games. He had nine three-point games before Thanksgiving, including four four-point games.

6. Peter Stastny, Quebec Nordiques (1982-83). The Stastnys were wildly productive players from the moment they arrived in the NHL. Peter opened the 1982-83 season with eight goals in his first three games. Since the start of the 1979-80 season, no player in the NHL has scored more goals in their team’s first three games.

7. Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota Wild (2014-15). His 2014-15 season did not end up being a great one overall, but he started the year about as well as any goalie has ever started a season in recent memory. He recorded a shutout in three of the Wild’s first five games, allowing just four total goals during that stretch.

8. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers (2005-06). Still probably the most under appreciated great goalie in NHL history simply because he never ended up getting his name on the Stanley Cup. During his first stint with the Panthers he took on a massive workload and was peppered with shots every night and almost always giving his team a chance. He opened 2005-06 with back-to-back shutouts in his first two games and had a save percentage over .960 through Florida’s first five games. It was the second year in a row he led the league in shots faced and saves. He was traded to Vancouver after the season.

9. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (2012-13). Marleau was one of the league’s top goal-scorers between 2008 and 2012 and looked like he was on track to continue that run when he opened the lockout shortened 2012-13 season with two goals in each of his first four games. Just for good measure, he scored one goal in his fifth game to give him nine goals in his first five games. He was never able to maintain that pace all year and finished with just eight goals over the remaining 43 games. He did, however, open the playoffs that year with a goal in five of his first six postseason games, including each of the first four. It was a very streaky year.

10. Mark Parrish, New York Islanders (2001-02). I mainly just wanted to include this one because I vividly remember it for its total randomness. Mark Parrish? Scoring all of the goals? For the early 2000s Islanders? It made no sense at the time. Parrish was in his second year with the Islanders after being acquired in the doomed-from-the-beginning Luongo trade and opened the 2001-02 season with eight goals in the team’s four games, and then 12 goals through 12 games. He went on to score 30 that year (the only 30-goal season of his career) and while he was a very good player, he was never productive enough to make up for being traded for Luongo and Olli Jokinen.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

In case you missed it, Mark Parrish retired

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Over the weekend, Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune passed along word that veteran NHLer Mark Parrish had called it a career.

Parrish is currently acting as a color commentator for St. Cloud State, his alma mater, and hopes to get into coaching one day.

The 35-year-old spent last season on a one-year, two-way deal with Ottawa, but never got into a game with the Sens, spending the entire season in AHL Binghamton where he posted solid numbers (15G-15A-30PTS in 51 games.)

Parrish last played in the NHL during the 2010-11 season, appearing in two games with the Buffalo Sabres.

His prime years occurred in the early 2000s when, as a member of the Panthers and Islanders, he scored 20-plus goals in six of seven seasons.

Parrish’s best-ever campaign came in 2001-02 with New York. He potted a career-high 30 goals (tying him with Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Marian Gaborik) and made his first and only All-Star Game.

The Minnesota native represented Team USA six times — three times at the World Championships, twice at the World Juniors and once at the Olympics — and is still being paid $927,778 annually by the Wild, who bought out his five-year, $13.25 million deal in 2008.

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More minor moves: Leafs sign two players, Mark Parrish joins Senators’ system

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Every once in a while, a wave of player signings can be large enough that it becomes overwhelming. To try to keep you as up to date as possible, we’ll throw together the occasional gallery of signings for some of the smaller deals. Sometimes a seemingly minor move could end up making a bigger impact than anyone expected. Here are two Maple Leafs transactions and one Ottawa Senators signing that might be of moderate note.

Lashoff might be a little more intriguing, even if the defenseman might actually struggle for playing time more than Dupuis in 2011-12. He spent most of his time with the Toronto Marlies last season after being traded to the Leafs organization from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He does bring the pedigree/disappointment of being a first round pick (22nd overall by Boston in 2005), though, so he seems like one of those guys who might “get it” one of these days.

  • The Senators took a trip down memory lane today by signing Mark Parrish to a one-year, two-way contract. Parrish was once a hot-and-cold winger who scored 30 goals once and hit the 20+ goal mark five other times in his NHL career, although he’s quite a bit removed from his glory days. His last year of steady big league work came when he played 66 games with the Minnesota Wild in 2007-08; ever since then he bounced from the Dallas Stars (44 games played in 08-09) to the Lightning (16 GP in 09-10) and Buffalo Sabres (2 GP in 10-11).

Parrish is a reclamation project at best, but most realistically slides into place as a minor league forward who can fill in every now and then if the Senators’ forward ranks are depleted by injuries. If nothing else, he’s a memorable name whose lost most of his luster, but maybe the guy will rebound in Ottawa.

Sabres hurting at the wrong time; Vanek, Hecht, Grier, and Kaleta out tonight vs. Pittsburgh

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Buffalo has found their way back into the top eight of the Eastern Conference. After spending the majority of the season out of the mix for the playoffs, the Sabres are very much back into it. The Sabres have been able to do it without last year’s leading scorer Derek Roy for most of the season but with the games dwindling and the pressure on to get into the playoffs, times are getting tougher health-wise.

Tonight’s crucial game against Pittsburgh will see the Sabres going to battle without a number of key players. Leading scorer Thomas Vanek (flu), Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta, and Mike Grier are all out for tonight with other nagging injuries. Taking their spots in the lineup are Mark Mancari and today’s call-ups from the AHL Luke Adam and veteran Mark Parrish.

These issues pop up from time to time for any team, but when you’re caught in the midst of a playoff race against a difficult team like the Penguins, it can feel like the stars are aligning against you to keep you out of the playoffs. Coach Lindy Ruff has done well with his team of late as they’ve been resilient and a pain in the neck for opponents to deal with.

Making it all the more amazing is that superstar goalie Ryan Miller hasn’t been other-worldly good this season, just pretty damn good. While Miller was busy leading Team USA and winning the Vezina Trophy last year, his numbers this year are still good but not quite what you’d hope for out of the guy you’re asking to start virtually every game for you. With a .914 save percentage and a 2.66 goals against average Miller ranks tied for 24th in save percentage and 31st in goals against average.

If Miller can show what he’s capable of while these injuries keep the Sabres shorthanded the confidence boost it’ll give to the team could be enough to keep them locked into a playoff spot.