With a wild 2023 NHL Trade Deadline firmly in the rear-view mirror and rosters set for the stretch run, the league’s collective attention has shifted to the hotly-contested playoff races in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Apart from the daily reshuffling in the standings, several records are also in jeopardy of falling at both the individual and team levels, seemingly bringing in a new golden age of NHL hockey.
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No matter your rooting interest or allegiances, there are a host of attention-grabbing storylines to follow as the final day of the 2022-23 regular season (April 13) rapidly approaches. Without further ado, let’s dive into 10 of the biggest storylines to watch before the start of the 2023 Playoffs.
Can Connor McDavid Maintain Historic Scoring Pace?
With Connor McDavid all but locking up the third Hart Trophy of his career, the Edmonton Oilers’ superstar turns his eyes towards reaching two single-season benchmarks that haven’t been met in more than 20 years: 70 goals and 150 points.
No player has scored that many goals since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny both tallied 76 in the 1995-96 campaign, and Mario Lemieux remains the most recent skater to post 150 points with 161 over 69 games in 1995-96.
Alexander Ovechkin currently holds the salary cap era record (starting with the 2005-06 season) for goals in a season with 65 in 2007-08, while Nikita Kucherov owns the cap-era record for points with 128 in 2018-19.
McDavid’s 55 goals and 127 points on the season have him within striking distance of both benchmarks with 15 games remaining on the Oilers’ regular season schedule. If he maintains his current rate of goalscoring and point-producing and features in all of the Oilers’ remaining games, he is projected to finish the season with 67 goals and 155 points.
Despite the Oilers facing one of the easiest remaining schedules according to Tankathon, scoring the required 15 goals in 15 games to hit 70 seems slightly out of reach although not impossible. Kucherov’s points record could fall as soon as the Oilers’ next game (March 14 against the Ottawa Senators), and 150 points on the season is a much more realistic bar for McDavid to clear.
Even if McDavid falls short of 70 goals, he could still join Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos (60 in 2011-12), and Auston Matthews (60 in 2021-22) as the only skaters to score 60 or more times in a season since the salary cap…
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