One game, one goal.
That is what’s between Leon Draisaitl and a 50-goal season.
“It’s really special,” Draisaitl said after Friday’s practice. “But I don’t want to put too much pressure on this. If it stays at 49, I’ll be happy at that.”
Happy at 49? Don’t be so sure! 630 CHED Inside the Game analyst Rob Brown finished with 49 while playing for Pittsburgh in 1988/89. He went into the final game of the regular season against Philadelphia with 48.
“I scored in the second period on a wrist shot over Ron Hextall’s glove,” recalled Brown.
The game went to overtime. The Flyers needed to win to improve their playoff positioning, so they pulled Hextall for an extra attacker.
“I was on the ice. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to score my 50th. Mario Lemieux will go through the entire team and set me up for the empty net,'” said Brown. “But our head coach, Gene Ubriaco, pulled me off the ice. Mario reminded him I was on the verge on 50, but Ubie said it’s a team sport. So sure enough, Mario skates through the entire Flyers team, scores in the empty net and I’m stuck on 49.”
The last player to record his 50th in an Oilers uniform was Craig Simpson. He scored 13 goals with the Penguins in 1987/88 before being traded to the Oilers.
“I had 16 goals in my first 21 games with Edmonton and felt pretty confident. But then I went four goals in the next 14,” remembered Simpson.
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Simpson heated up again and potted his 50th in the 71st game of the season against Buffalo.
“It just was such a relief,” said Simpson. “It presses on you a little bit.”
Draisaitl scored twice on Thursday against San Jose. With almost two full periods to net his 50th, his teammates were obviously looking to set him up. Draisaitl isn’t used to being a target to that extent.
“It’s really hard for me. I’ve never really been in this situation,” he said. “It’s not the easiest. I like looking for the pass more than anything.”
Draisaitl and the Oilers close out the regular season Saturday night in Calgary. Catch the game on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m. The game will start at 8 p.m.