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Players of the Decade: Per-Game Scoring

Here are the first six parts of my series on the decade that was:

Teams of the Decade: Regular Season Wins

Teams of the Decade: Shooting and PDO

Players of the Decade: Games Played, Goals, Assists, Points

Players of the Decade: +/- and PIMs

Players of the Decade: Shots on Goal

Players of the Decade: Ice Time

Looking at the leaders in any given statistic over the course of a decade is sometimes a bit unsatisfying - after all, you've selected 10 arbitrary years, which shuts out players who were born too early or too late or missed a bit of time due to injury. So I thought a look at rate statistics was in order.

Here are the leaders in goals scored per 82 games:

Ovechkin 56.1
Bure 53.0
Kovalchuk 45.3
Heatley 42.5
Jagr 40.4
Iginla 40.2
Crosby 39.0
Malkin 38.0
Hossa 37.6
Palffy 37.4

Ziggy Palffy makes a lot of these per-game lists, but he seems largely forgotten, partly due to injuries that kept him out of the lineup a lot after age 25, and partly due to his odd attitude - he left the Penguins in his first season with a team that would very soon be successful. He's back on track in Slovakia these days, and it's a reminder of what kind of career he could have had in the NHL.

Moving on to assists...

Sidney Crosby was leading this list before the season started, but an increased focus on goal-scoring has pushed him down below the two retired leaders:

Forsberg 73.4
Lemieux 73.3
Crosby 72.1
Thornton 65.5
Malkin 64.7
Backstrom 61.4
Jagr 58.5
Sakic 57.7
Allison 56.9
Datsyuk 54.2

Jason Allison is another player who was surprisingly productive but ultimately forgotten due to injuries and an initial retirement at Age 27. Putting it all together:

Crosby 112.3
Lemieux 110.5
Ovechkin 106.3
Malkin 103.0
Forsberg 100.8
Jagr 98.9
Thornton 93.0
Sakic 92.6
Bure 88.9
Palffy 88.7

It's always strange for me to think that Crosby has drawn so much flak in his short career. He's been a dominant offensive player playing against the other teams' top lines. His path to the Stanley Cup was two years shorter than Wayne Gretzky's. He led the league in scoring when he was 19. I suppose things could be worse: he could have *actually* done something wrong!

I've said this before: one day we'll have to explain to our grandchildren why the three-best baseball players in the 80s, 90s and 00s were Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez and yet everybody hated them. Explaining why Crosby wasn't universally-loved will be just as tough.