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Key numbers as the NHL approaches its 50,000th game

Nov 20, 2010, 2:30 PM EDT

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Mark Messier AP

After 93 years of existence, the NHL approaches a rare milestone for sports leagues: between playoff and regular season games, it will reach its 50,000th game played tonight.

NHL.com’s John Kreiser points out that, much like that first opening night game way back on December 19, 1917, the Maple Leafs will play against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kreiser collected some of the most important and interesting numbers from the first 50,000 games in this article.

Obviously, we’ll go beyond the most obvious stats such as most wins (Canadiens with 3,072) and Stanley Cup victories (the Canadiens again, with 23 Cups). (The Leafs, meanwhile, are the first team to lose 2,500 games on October 21 according to Kreiser.)

Here are some of the other highlights from Kreiser.

Filling the net — Not surprisingly, the Canadiens do this better than anyone else. Despite Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Nashville, they enter the weekend with 19,550 regular-season goals — no other team has reached 19,000. Montreal is one of a dozen NHL teams that have reached the 10,000-goal club (excluding shootouts); the Calgary Flames are poised to become No. 13. The Flames have 9,986 non-shootout goals since entering the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972.

[snip]

* Mark Messier played in 1,992 of the first 50,000 games, more than anyone else. Gordie Howe has the regular-season mark with 1,767, 19 more than Messier. But the former Oiler and Rangers star more than made up the difference in the playoffs.

* Messier was part of the five highest-scoring teams in NHL history. The Oilers scored between 401 and 446 goals in the five seasons from 1981-82 to 1985-86, with their record of 446 in 1983-84 untouched for 26 years.

* Of all the records that could last through the next 50,000 games, Doug Jarvis’ mark for consecutive games played has to be near the top of the list. Jarvis played 964 in a row from October 1975 to October 1987.

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