The NHL returns from the All-Star break with a six-game slate on Monday. A collection of notes and statistics as the season enters its final 504 games can be found below.
CANUCKS SIT ON TOP OF CROWDED PACIFIC DIVISION RACE
The Canucks (27-18-4, 58 points) occupy first place in the Pacific Division standings where the top five teams return from the All-Star break separated by just one point.
* The 2019-20 campaign marks the first time in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) that the top five teams in a division have all been within one point of each other past the halfway mark of the regular season.
* Three of the clubs in the five-team cluster are looking to make the postseason after missing the playoffs in at least each of the last two seasons: Vancouver (last 2014-15), Edmonton (last 2016-17) and Arizona (last 2011-12).
* Vancouver returns to Rogers Arena with wins in each of its last eight home games. Its current stretch, which trails only St. Louis (9-0-0 from Dec. 12, 2019 – Jan. 13, 2020) for the NHL’s longest home winning streak of 2019-20, stands tied for the third-longest in franchise history behind only 11- and nine-game runs in 2008-09 and 1992-93, respectively.
* Vancouver and Edmonton are the only Pacific Division clubs among the five to have completed their season series, splitting their four-game set with two wins apiece. Both of the Oilers wins were one-goal victories in which they overcame a deficit to emerge with a victory.
OVECHKIN EYES CAREER GOAL NO. 700. . .
With hat tricks in each of his last two games, Alex Ovechkin (692-569—1,261 in 1,133) continues his chase to join the NHL’s illustrious seven-member 700-goal club. The Capitals’ captain, tied with Steve Yzerman (692) for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list, can become the first player in NHL history to register a three-goal outing in three consecutive appearances.
* Ovechkin is on pace to go from 600 to 700 goals in only 157 games, which would mark the fewest games to make that leap for any member of the 700-goal club. Wayne Gretzky (169 GP) is the only member of the 700-goal club who needed fewer than 200 games to go from 600 to 700.
* The 34-year-old’s consecutive hat tricks boosted his 2019-20 totals to 34-16—50 in 49 contests and he now sits six tallies shy of joining Gretzky (12x) as just the second player in NHL history to record 11 or more 40-goal seasons. Ovechkin would also become the first player in League history to register 11 40-goal seasons with one franchise.
. . . WHILE PASTRNAK SETS SIGHTS ON OVERTHOWING OVECHKIN’S SCORING REIGN
David Pastrnak (37-33—70) returns from All-Star Weekend with a League-leading 37 goals and continues the chase for his first-ever Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy.
* Pastrnak looks to become the fifth different player in Bruins history to finish a season as the NHL’s goals leader and first since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 – the last of his six-season reign. The only other players in the Original Six franchise’s history to do so: Cooney Weiland (1929-30), Roy Conacher (1938-39) and Bronco Horvath (t-1st in 1959-60).
* To do so, Pastrnak (Czech Republic, age 23) will have to fend off a trio of 30-goal scorers – combined the four players with 30 goals this season represent four nationalities and a 12-year age difference: Alex Ovechkin (Russia, age 34), Auston Matthews (USA, age 22) and Nathan MacKinnon (Canada, age 24).
* Seven of the top-10 goal scorers in 2019-20 are age 24 or younger, with Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin (age 28) and Patrick Kane (age 31) as the three exceptions. Meanwhile, four of the 10 are on pace to reach the 50-goal mark – a number last achieved in 2005-06 (5).
* Pastrnak, who will conclude the 2019-20 campaign at 23 years of age, can become the fifth different active player to finish as the NHL’s top goal scorer prior to his 24th birthday. Rick Nash holds the NHL mark for the youngest player to accomplish the feat (tied or held outright), doing so at the conclusion of the 2003-04 campaign (19 years, 293 days).
* Conversely, should Ovechkin overtake Pastrnak and capture his ninth ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy, the 34-year-old would become the third-oldest player in NHL history to finish as the League’s top goal scorer behind Gordie Howe (34 years, 358 days) and Bill Cook (36 years, 165 days).
McDAVID EYES ELITE COMPANY WITH POTENTIAL THIRD ART ROSS TROPHY
Oilers captain Connor McDavid returns from St. Louis with a League-leading 76 points (37-20—57 in 49 GP) as he pursues his third Art Ross Trophy in four seasons. The 23-year-old can join Wayne Gretzky (4x; 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83, 1984-84) as just the second player in NHL history to capture the award at least three times before their 24th birthday.
* Trailing the Oilers captain (age 23) is teammate Leon Draisaitl (age 24), Nathan MacKinnon (age 24) and David Pastrnak (age 23) – all of whom reached the 70-point mark ahead of NHL All-Star Weekend. The 2019-20 season could become the first in NHL history to conclude with the top four scorers all under the age of 25.
* McDavid and Draisaitl will return to the ice on Jan. 29 (vs. CGY) with active six- and eight-game point streaks, respectively. The dynamic duo can become the 31st set of teammates in NHL history to conclude the season first and second in League scoring and first since Martin St. Louis (17-43—60 in 48 GP) and Steven Stamkos (29-38—57 in 48 GP) accomplished the feat with the Lightning in 2012-13.
* McDavid and Draisaitl, among six players to record 100-plus points in 2018-19, lead a group of 10 skaters currently on pace to reach the 100-point mark this season. The last campaign to conclude with 10 or more 100-point scorers was 1995-96, when a dozen skaters hit the mark. Coincidentally, that season saw teammates finish first and second in the scoring race: Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux (69-92—161) and Jaromir Jagr (62-87—149).
* Four different nationalities are represented among the five highest-scoring players in 2019-20 – McDavid (Canada), Draisaitl (Germany), MacKinnon (Canada), Pastrnak (Czech Republic) and Artemi Panarin (Russia). Among them, Draisaitl can become the first player of his nationality to win the Art Ross Trophy.