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There’s a bunch of random, fun NHL stuff out there today
1. The season is less than two weeks old and we’ve already had three individual four-goal games. Boston’s David Pastrnak scored the hat-trick-plus-one last night, joining Detroit’s Anthony Mantha and Edmonton’s James Neal. Only twice in NHL history has there been this many four-goal games through the first 13 days of a season: in 1992-93 (also three) and 1917-18 (six). ’92-’93 isn’t surprising because that was a crazy year for a lot of reasons. But the other one is. That was the NHL’s inaugural season, and a lot of people might picture World War I-era hockey as low-scoring. But it was the opposite. To this day, the NHL’s four highest-scoring seasons ever (by goals per game) are still its first four. The average game in the inaugural season had 9.5 goals. For context, it was six last season. Another fun fact about 1917-18: Joe Malone scored 44 goals in 20 games, which would be like someone scoring 180 today. The high-scoring environment obviously helped, and so did Malone’s ice time. Back then, it was common for the best players to stay out almost the entire game. Malone explained how this was possible to The Hockey News in 1961: “We’d hustle when opportunities presented and then we’d loaf.”
2. There’s only one perfect team left. Edmonton suffered its first defeat of the season last night, falling to 5-1-0. That leaves Colorado (5-0-0) as the only team without a loss. Not a shock — a lot of smart people predicted a breakthrough for this exciting young Avs team after their impressive showing in the playoffs. More surprising is the only other team without a regulation loss: 5-0-1 Buffalo. We’ll see if the Sabres can make it last this time. For a brief time last November, the perennial non-playoff team had the best record in the NHL after winning 10 in a row. Then they lost their next five and limped to the fifth-worst record in the league by the end of the season. This year’s run is being led by Jack Eichel, who has nine points in six games, and Victor Olofsson, whose five goals have all come on the power play. He’s the first player in NHL history to score the first seven goals of his career with the man advantage since the league starting keeping track of power-play goals in 1933-34.
3. On this date 30 years ago, Wayne Gretzky broke the all-time record for points — and then played for another decade. Add that to the list of mind-blowing Gretzky facts. The all-time scoring record should be a late-career accomplishment. But Gretzky topped Gordie Howe’s 1,850 points in just his 11th season and piled on another 1,007 before he retired in 1999. Twenty years later, no one has even come close to Gretzky’s 2,857 points. The No. 2 all-time scorer, Jaromir Jagr, has 936. Read more about Gretzky’s record-breaking night on Oct. 15, 1989 here.
4. Brad Marchand did a very Brad Marchand thing. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Bruins star ranks eighth in the NHL in goals, fifth in points and first in opponents’ faces licked. No one in hockey (in all of sports?) combines elite skill with elite jerkiness quite like him. That’s why his run-in last night with Anaheim’s Max Comtois was the perfect Marchand moment. He starts it by cross-checking Comtois, then when Comtois tries to come back at him with a forearm shot, Marchand ducks it with a stunningly athletic defensive manoeuvre that would make Floyd Mayweather proud. Look:
The Washington Nationals are one win away from the World Series. The Cinderella team of the baseball playoffs can get there tonight by completing a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. This would be the first World Series appearance for the franchise, which was the Montreal Expos until it moved after the 2004 season. It looks like it’ll take longer to decide the American League’s representative in the World Series. Houston and the New York Yankees are tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3, which starts right around our publish time. The Astros’ pitcher today is Gerrit Cole, who hasn’t taken an official loss since May 22. Houston hasn’t lost a game he pitched in since July 12.
The Detroit Lions can’t buy a break. Since winning their last NFL title, in 1957, football’s pre-eminent sad-sack franchise has exactly one playoff win. This year’s Lions actually look pretty good, but they keep giving away games in spectacular fashion. In Week 1, they led 24-6 in the fourth quarter at Arizona before settling for a tie. In Week 4, they may have upset Kansas City if not for a 100-yard fumble return on a play that everyone thought was dead. Last night, they were on the wrong side of some questionable penalty calls that helped Green Bay beat them by a point. There’s an alternate universe where the Lions are 5-0 and tied for the best record in their conference. Instead, they’re a much more Lions-y 2-2-1 and in last place in their division.
It’s a brutal year for CFL quarterbacks. B.C.’s Mike Reilly was the only opening-game starter in the nine-team league to play in every game this season. But that streak will end after he broke his wrist yesterday and was lost for the rest of the year. The Lions have only two games left and they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention. Read more about Reilly’s injury here.
The Canadian men’s rugby team did a good deed. Their World Cup matches did not go well. They got trounced by Italy, New Zealand and South Africa, and had only a meaningless match against Namibia left when Typhoon Hagibis hit the host country of Japan. The match was cancelled, but the Canadian team stuck around to help with the clean-up efforts in flood- and mudslide-damaged areas. Some players helped shovel mud out of the streets, and others cleaned the homes of elderly people who had “literally four or five feet of water in their house the day before,” according to the team’s media-relations manager. Read more about how the Canadians gave a helping hand here.
The L.A. Kings are blaming Taylor Swift for their failures. Actually, not even Taylor Swift. A Taylor Swift banner. There’s one hanging in the Kings’ arena commemorating the pop star for having the “most sold out performances.” Now, that’s a pretty flimsy reason for a banner (right down there with this one by the Nashville Predators). But some Kings fans think the Swift banner is a curse because L.A. hasn’t won a playoff round since it went up in the summer of 2015. Worse, the team actually took these people seriously and announced the banner will be covered up during games. Seems like an overreaction. Maybe next time just… uh… shake it off? (sorry).
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Brad Marchand out here being Brad Marchand <a href=”https://t.co/mYi4ayZepQ”>pic.twitter.com/mYi4ayZepQ</a>
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