Joe Thornton and Roberto Luongo will both say the most important thing about Tuesday’s games were that their respective clubs picked up victories, but both veteran stars added to their Hall of Fame resumes.
In the Sharks’ victory over the Avalanche, Thornton extended his point streak to 10 games and racked up two assists in the 6-1 win. Thornton’s helpers were the 1,299th and 1,300th points of his career, as he moved became just the 33rd player in league history to reach the 1,300-point mark for their career.
As for Luongo, his milestone wasn’t as round as Thornton’s but it continued the Panthers netminder’s climb up the all-time ranks. The Panthers’ convincing 5-1 victory over the Maple Leafs gave Luongo 423 wins in his career, putting him into a tie for seventh-place all-time with longtime Chicago Blackhawks netminder Tony Esposito. He’s now 14 wins back of Jacques Plante and 24 wins away from reaching a tie for the top-five alongside Terry Sawchuk.
With the all-star break upon us, there’s not much time left in the season for others chasing down major career milestones:
MARIAN HOSSA — 494 goals, 1,081 points
Hossa’s not the offensive star he once was and he’s a long way from his 40-goal days. Through 48 games, Hossa has eight goals and 25 points, putting him just six goals off of 500 for his career and only 19 points away from reaching the 1,100-point plateau.
It seems achievable, right? Well, there’s one problem. Hossa is on pace for 13 goals and 40 points, meaning his pace puts him finishing the season with 499 goals and 1,096 points. He’s had his chances this season and playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews means he’s always going to have offensive opportunities. If Hossa sees an uptick in production, he could very well reach both milestones by season’s end and further make his case for reaching the Hall of Fame.
RICK NASH — 390 goals
Only 91 players in league history have scored 400 goals, and Rick Nash is likely to become entrant No. 92 to that club. He’s missed the past two games with a knee injury but as soon as he comes back he could be in line to knock off the final 10 goals he needs to reach 400 for his career.
It would seem like a lock for Nash if his goal scoring pace was anywhere near the 42-goal total he put up in 2014-15, but he’s managed only 12 goals in 45 games this season. His goals pace puts him one shy of reaching the mark, but it might be worth betting that Nash gets goal No. 22 this season and No. 400 for his career.
At 31, Nash likely has his eye on 500 for his career. Getting to 600 might be pushing it, but 400 could fall this season.
SIDNEY CROSBY — 894 points
Crosby is on fire lately and has 10 points in his past seven games. In January alone, Crosby has 14 points and, barring injury, there’s no way he doesn’t hit 900 points for his career this season. Crosby won’t be heading to the All-Star Game, which means he’s going to get a much-needed break and come back rested for the backend of the season.
He’s currently sitting at 894 points and is on pace for another 29 points this season. Total, that would put him at 923 for his career, which would put him into a tie with Neal Broten as one of the top-100 scorers in NHL history. If Crosby, 28, can maintain an 80-point per season pace, we could be talking about his 1,000th point as soon as next season.
PAVEL DATSYUK — 893 points
There’s nearly a 10-year age gap between Crosby and Datsyuk, but both are chasing the same milestone. Datsyuk has never been as prolific a scorer as Crosby and the Red Wings star’s career has been marred by injury, especially over the past several seasons. In the past six seasons, Datsyuk has averaged 53 games per season, but he’s maintained a steady points pace.
Because of injury, Datsyuk got a late start on this campaign, but the 37-year-old is on pace for 47 points in 67 games. Already at 24 points, Datsyuk looks as though he could finish this season with 916 points. If he reaches that mark, he’ll be one point ahead of Bobby Orr’s 915 career points. That’s some nice company.
JAROMIR JAGR — Chasing Gordie Howe, Brett Hull
For Jagr, it’s not about the round numbers anymore. At this stage, he’s slowly picking away at furthering his legendary status by climbing the all-time goals and points lists, and he should be able to surpass Brett Hull and Gordie Howe by the time the 2015-16 season ends.
After being dealt to the Florida Panthers before last season's trade deadline, Jagr found some serious offensive form, and that’s carried over to the current campaign. In 46 games, the 43-year-old is second on the Cats with 33 points and is on pace to score nearly 60 points this season. He won’t have to get that far to surpass Howe for third on the all-time scoring list. Jagr currently has 1,835 points and Howe sits 15 ahead at 1,850. Should Jagr reach 49 points this season — meaning he finds the score sheet 16 more times — he’ll be alone in third on the all-time list. Following Howe, Jagr will need only 28 more points to surpass Mark Messier for second place.
As for Hull, he sits four goals ahead of Jagr and one would have to believe it’s not going to take until game No. 82 this season for Jagr to catch and pass ‘The Golden Brett’. Jagr’s on pace for 26 goals, but he hasn’t scored in seven games. He was right when he said he could have used the time off at the all-star break to prepare his body for the 33 games the Panthers have to play post-break. Still, though, five goals to pass Hull seems easy enough for one of the most prolific scorers in league history.
When Jagr passes Hull, we might be able to start thinking about his outside shot at catching Howe’s 802 goals. It would take at least two or three more seasons, but does anyone doubt Jagr has those in him?