Thursday, October 11, 2018

Maple Leafs' Torrid Scoring Starts Pale to Mario

What a helluva time to be a Maple Leafs fan. After literally a lifetime of suffering through mostly atrocious teams (with a few glimmering points), it appears we have finally come out on the other side. Toronto is a legitimate contender and a high-powered scoring juggernaut. I sure as hell am going to enjoy the ride, hopefully for at least a few years (please, hockey gods).
After their fifth game of the 2018/19 campaign, the Leafs hold the top four spots in NHL scoring; Matthews and Rielly with 12 and Tavares and Marner with 10. 
I mean, Matthews just broke Wayne Gretzky's record for youngest player with at least 12 points in their first 5 games of a season...and Rielly broke Bobby Orr's modern record for most points by a defenceman in their first five games of a season... I need to lay down.
In all seriousness though, as good as these numbers are, it's fun to look at two of the greatest ever and how they came out of the gates through the years.
The Great One had at least 12 points in his first 5 games of the season a ridiculous TEN different times, topping out with 15 points (7 g, 8a) in 1983/84. Matthews does have him on goals though as those seven were Gretzky's most in his first five games of a season. Crazy.
That brings us to Mario Lemieux. This is were things get just silly. In October 1988, in his first five games of the season, Mario cranked out NINE goals and TEN assists for NINETEEN points, easily the most of anyone since then. This of course, was the year he challenged Gretzky's all-time records for goals and points. Although he ended up missing four games, he finished with 85 goals (7 behind the record) and 199 points. The thing is, in his NEXT five games, Mario collected 18 MORE points. After 10 games of the 1988/89 campaign, Le Magnifique had 16 goals, 21 assists and 37 points. 
This wasn't an anomaly for Mario, in 1992 he scored 17 points in his first 5 and 32 in his first 10 games. And in 1995 he tallied 32 points once again in the first 10 games of the season. These guys sure could fill the net back in the day. I miss fire-wagon hockey, and perhaps it's beginning to make a comeback.
Now, nobody is seriously comparing Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly to Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr...but, the rate that they are producing at this moment really does make it fun to compare numbers. For now, I will enjoy the run. 
Before this season began I personally just wanted to get the regular season over and for get the Leafs playoffs to begin. This is where the real history is made and my childhood/lifetime of enduring the Leafs can be justified. But, seeing as how these guys are breaking scoring records...maybe the regular season will be worthwhile after all. Let the fun continue.

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