Monday, February 7, 2011

Sittler 10 points, 35 years ago.

35 years ago today, six goals and four assists. Nobody else has even scored nine in a game. Although on Jan. 30, 1973, Jim Harrison scored three goals, seven assists for the Alberta Oilers in the WHA. In the NHL, Gretzky had eight points twice, Lemieux had eight three times (once in the playoffs), Tom Bladon and Paul Coffey had eight points as defencemen. The Stastnys Peter and Anton had eight each, Patrik Sundstrom did it in the playoffs and Bernie Nicholls had eight in '88.

When Gretzky scored eight on Jan. 4, 1984 it was his second time in six weeks doing it. He actually had scored his eight points with two and a half minutes remaining in the second period, and still couldn't catch Sittler. It's been over 20 years since anyone has come close.

Going into the game against Boston on Feb. 7, 1976 Sittler was having a nice if unspectacular season with 21 goals, 32 assists and 53 points in 51 games. In his last three seasons he had notched 77, 84 and 80 points and was on the exact same pace in 75/76. This all changed that night in February. In the 11-4 Leaf victory, the only Toronto goal Sittler was not involved in was at 11:40 of the second when George Ferguson scored on assists from Scott Garland and Inge Hammarstrom. Borje Salming and Lanny McDonald would score 2 goals and 2 assists each, Errol Thompson had 3 helpers and for Boston, Jean Ratelle also had 2 goals, 2 assists and Bobby Schmautz had a goal and 3 helpers in completely overlooked performances.

It would take Sittler seven games to get his next ten points. Over his last 27 games after the ten-pointer he scored 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points, a point/game rate of 1.37. So, after being a point per game player up until then, after the ten point game Sittler would score 1.32 Pts/GP over his next five and a third seasons and 404 games through 1980/81. A true breakout game if there ever was one.

Incidentally, a month later when Toronto travelled to Boston they were beaten 6-2 by Gerry Cheevers. Sittler was indeed held pointless.

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