Monday, November 07, 2005

NHL: One month in...

What looked like the least likely major sports record to be broken might not be so unbreakable now.
That record is Wayne Gretzky's 92 goals in a season.
With the first month of the NHL now in the books, there are three guys out there who have legitimate shots at making a run at the Great One's mark... Jaromir Jagr of the hated Rangers, Simon Gagne of the Flyers and Dany Heatley of the Senators.
Obviously, all will have to stay healthy in order to have a shot. But the way the game is now, all three could be in a position to challenge Gretzky's mark.
To get there, these snipers need centremen adept at finding them when they're open. Martin Straka (Jagr), Peter Forsberg (Gagne) and Jason Spezza (Heatley) certainly qualify.
It helps to have other legitimate scoring threats on the club. Jagr for the moment doesn't with Martin Rucinsky out; with Daniel Alfredsson (himself a possible candidate for a run at the mark) and Martin Havlat, Heatley's got that covered; and Forsberg and the underrated Mike Knuble (who's on a 50-goal pace) as linemates, Gagne is covered in that regard.
There are others I could see making a run at some point in their careers -- the rookies Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin come to mind (and, boy, are they both real good right now) -- but those are the big three as seen from here.
Will it happen? I kinda doubt it, for now. But if the NHL stays as wide-open, power-play happy as it is, it could.
Stay tuned.