Friday, January 11, 2019

John Tavares Scoring Pace

John Tavares has potted 29 goals in 43  games for the Maple Leafs this year, on his way to a career best total. This pace ranks Tavares as the second fastest to 29 goals in the last thirty years.
The thing is, the Leafs top goal scoring seasons were put up, among others, by Rick Vaive in the early 1980's when Game Logs are tougher to find. This is when we head to the google newspaper archives and delve into the files of the Montreal Gazette. I checked all the other top goal scoring seasons in Leaf history and where each player stood after 43 team games. When I could, I included the players' actual number of games to that point if it differed from the team total.

1931/32 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 29 Goals
1933/34 43 Team Game, Charlie Conacher 31 Goals
1934/35 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 27 Goals
1960/61 43 Team Games, Frank Mahovlich 43gp 37Goals
1976/77 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 43gp  28Goals
1977/78 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 27Goals
1981/82 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 39gp 27Goals
1982/83 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 41 gp 28Goals
1983/84 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 42gp 35Goals
The newspaper clippings that I found of each of the 43rd game of the season are below. We get a real sense of the pace that Frank Mahovlich was on in 1960/61 in his chase for Rocket Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Even in January the Big M was generating headlines as he notched his 37th goals in the 43rd game of the season. Alas, Mahovlich would slow down over the last third of the season, finishing with "only" 48 goals in 70 games.
Jan 16, 1961
Jan 17, 1978
Jan 11, 1982
Jan 17, 1983
Jan 11, 1984
So, Tavares pace this season is behind only that of Andreychuk in 93/94, Vaive in 83/84 and Charlie Conacher in 33/34. Below are the NHL scoring leaders after 42 Leaf games in 1983/84 illustrating how good Vaive's season was to that point. Of course he would slow down, scoring 17 goals in the remaining 37 games to end up with 52 markers. John Tavares should be a good bet to get to that total this year.
Jan 11, 1984

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