PUCK LISTS are lists of hockey things. They run every Thursday on Puck Daddy.
So I’m watching Ducks/Flames on Tuesday night. Wild game. Lots of penalties. And for an increasingly probable first-round matchup, that’s something to keep an eye on for sure.
But the weirdest thing happened. Early in the second period, Patrick Eaves scored a rebound goal on a nice faceoff play by Ryan Getzlaf, and the Ducks announcers say, “Oh that’s his 31st goal of the season.” And I was half-paying attention so I thought they meant Getzlaf has 31 assists or something.
(For the record, Getzlaf very quietly has FIFTY-FOUR! The media will not cover this.)
But you can understand my disbelief. There’s simply no way Patrick freaking Eaves has 31 goals this year, right? But he does. Since he was traded to Anaheim in mid-February, Eaves went from a totally respectable 21 in 59 to 31 in 77. Ten goals and two assists, folks!
Turns out he’s found himself a nice little home on a line with Getzlaf, who has a point on literally all but two goals on which Eaves also has a point since the trade. Eaves’s previous career high in goals was just 20, set way back in his rookie year of 2005-06, when everyone in the league had 20 goals by decree of Gary Bettman, who really wanted to increase scoring.
And look, Eaves has always been a sneakily skilled player on some level; his college numbers (107 points in 84 games in his ages 18-20 seasons) bear that out. But man, Patrick Eaves cleared 30 goals?
Crazy. In honor of Eaves being such a good little boy this year, here are six more active players — insofar as they are not officially retired — I literally am shocked to find scored 30 goals one time:
6. Alex Ovechkin (32 goals in 2013)
I’m only including this here not because it’s surprising when Ovechkin scores 30 goals — he has literally always hit that number — but because he scored 32 in 48 games. Pretty impressive.
More impressive: Ovechkin got off to a bit of a slow start that year, with only six goals in his first 16 games. He scored 27 in the last 32 to make himself the only guy to clear 30 that year. Amazing!
5. David Clarkson (30 goals in 2011-12)
I mean I guess this isn’t technically a surprise, because when Toronto signed him the 30-goal season was one of the big selling points. “Oh, he’s so big and he scored 30 one time and isn’t that so nice? What a bargain we got!”
Everyone knows how that ended up, but let’s put it this way: The 30 goals he scored for the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12 made up more than a quarter of his total career output. That season, he shot 13.2 percent. His career average besides that was 8.2 percent. So yeah, a bit of an outlier.
To be fair, he also scored 15 in 48 in the lockout year, which is a pace for about 26 goals, and that was with him shooting much closer to his career success rate. But still, his career high in a full season apart from that one big year was just 17.
Getting to 30 was a big leap, and it led to a big payday.
4. Devin Setoguchi (31 goals in 2008-09)
This probably comes with a huge asterisk because it’s the Joe Thornton effect, but here we are anyway.
Thornton assisted on 17 of Setoguchi’s 31 goals that year, making the latter Jonathan Cheechoo Pt. 2. What’s interesting is that, unlike a lot of guys on this list who definitely saw shooting percentage spikes, Setoguchi’s big year — it was his most goals in a season by 41 percent — wasn’t that out of whack with what he normally did. Moreover, you’d think Joe Thornton would create a lot of high-quality chances that lead to higher shooting percentages. But it didn’t happen. That year Setoguchi shot 12.6 percent. For his entire career, it was 11.
In all, he added just 100 more goals in 435 games apart from that one big year.
Obviously the Setoguchi story gets a little sad at the end, even if he did play 45 games for the Kings this year. But hey, he had a great season (65 points!) and got a little bit rich off it. Can’t knock him for that.
3. Drew Stafford (31 goals in 2011-12)
Drew Stafford is an occasionally reliable scorer. He’s hit 20 goals four times, which ain’t all that bad. And he’s stuck around a long time, playing 723 games in his career.
But like the rest of the guys on this list, his 31-goal season was a big outlier. He scored that many in just 62 games. That is, obviously, a pace for 41 over a full 82. In the entire rest of his career, his scoring pace is just 19 per 82. Pretty big jump.
(And yes, he shot 17.3 percent that season, but weirdly his shooting percentage in his first 317 career games was 13.2, which is really high. Man, he was getting good looks then, I guess.)
Again, this wasn’t totally out of character because he hit 20 goals three times in four years back then, but still, to best your career high by like 48 percent is shocking.
2. Mike Green (31 goals in 2008-09)
As with the Ovechkin or Clarkson thing, it’s not so surprising that Green hit 30. I think we all knew that.
But still, he’s a damn defenseman and he scored 31 goals in 68 games in the modern NHL. That’s 0.46 goals per game, and a defenseman has only hit that mark nine times in NHL history while playing at least 50 games. Four of those seasons were by Bobby Orr. Three more were Paul Coffey’s. Doug Wilson’s 1981-82 season was the other one.
That’s rarified air for Green to enjoy, and somehow he didn’t win the Norris that year. Are you kidding me?
Green’s career high aside from the big one here was 19 in 75 games, which is still a really high number for a defender to hit.
To give you an indication of Green’s skill level, he shot 8.3 percent from the blue line for his career; since they started counting shot totals for individual players decades ago, only 20 defensemen have shot 8 percent for their entire careers.
The only two guys who played in anything like the kinds of scoring environments Green faced were Shea Weber (obviously still playing) and Lubomir Visnovsky, who was a hell of a D-man in his day.
Mike Green rules. Wow.
1. Jonathan Marchessault (30 goals this season)
Part of the reason Eaves’s surprising 30-goal campaign this season caught me by surprise is that most of the hockey world has been paying closer attention to what Marchessault is doing in Florida.
He scored 30 goals in 72 games so far this season. His previous career high was SEVEN in 45 games last season! S-E-V-E-N, folks! And he was on waivers last year too!
Marchessault only has 49 career games played before he arrived in Sunrise, and he has a decent scoring record in the AHL (45-86-131 in 150 games) but this is such a huge, out-of-nowhere explosion that it’s tough to imagine it’s ever been done before, or will be done again.
Simply put, you just don’t go from a so-so part-timer on waivers to scoring 30 goals. What Marchessault is doing this year is truly amazing.
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