The NHL At The Halfway Point: Biggest Milestones Reached So Far

So, here we are at the halfway point of the 2015-2016 NHL season. The annual All-Star Game doesn't take place until Jan. 31, but every team with the exception (at this writing) of the San Jose Sharks has played at least 40 games.

There have been a few milestones reached this season — I’ll get to those soon — but first I have to acknowledge the fact that the amount of parity in a 30-team league currently has the standings bunched up like a pair of boxer shorts worn under a pair of super-skinny jeans. Could you even fit a pair of boxers under super-skinny jeans? My point exactly.

With the exception of the 31-7-3 Washington Capitals and the permanently subterranean Sabres and Oilers, there isn’t a more fitting metaphor.

Now, onto the milestones:

Jarome Iginla Scores His 600th Goal

Jarome Iginla reached the prolific milestone a few days ago in his 19th year as an NHL player. His future Hall of Fame status has already been cemented, but I would love to see the guy win a Stanley Cup before he hangs up his skates. He is one of the classiest, most talented players of his generation, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

Shane Doan Reaches 1,400 Games

Way back in October, Shane Doan became the 34th NHL player to play in 1,400 games. He has been fortunate in that he’s spent most of his career injury-free and, at 39, doesn’t seem ready to step down anytime soon. The Arizona Coyotes are currently right in the thick of it, so it’s not like he’s playing just to pad his stats.

Roberto Luongo Records His 70th Career Shutout

If the New York Islanders had been a well-run organization back in 1999 when Roberto Luongo broke into the NHL, he would have been the French-Canadian second coming of Billy Smith. Alas, former general manager Mike Milbury chose to make one of the most boneheaded trades in sports history by sending Luongo to the Florida Panthers for Oleg Kvasha, Mark Parrish and Olli Jokinen. He then drafted American goaltender Rick DiPietro first overall. I refuse to waste anymore words on this one.

Joe Thornton Surpasses Bryan Trottier in Assists

Joe Thornton is another case of big stats but no championships. Unfortunately, this might hinder him from securing a place among the gods of hockey, but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, he holds a pretty lofty position among the top scorers of the game, as he keeps racking up goals and assists. The assists, in particular, place him ahead of Bryan Trottier and approaching the neighborhood where some other prominent former players reside. He’s only 36, so his Hall of Fame status will have to be put on hold for a few years.

Henrik Lundqvist Gets His 350th Career Win

It took Henrik Lundqvist 10 seasons to compile that impressive statistic, and somehow, netminders have a knack for getting better with age. He turns 34 in March, and barring any staggering injuries, he’s going to go down in history as one of the best ever.

‘The Great 8’ Gets 500 (and 501)

Alexander Ovechkin just became the latest player to reach 500 goals . He reached this milestone Jan. 10 against the Ottawa Senators in his 801st career game. (He also notched No. 501 later on as America’s capital blew out Canada’s capital.) He’s now positioned behind Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull and Mike Bossy as the fifth fastest to reach 500. Gretzky got there at 24, but Ovechkin, 30, still has plenty of career stretching out in front of him. A Stanley Cup championship likely isn’t far behind.

NHL Milestone In Waiting

Jaromir Jagr has reached that point where his NHL career predates many of the guys he plays with and against. He’ll turn 44 Feb. 15, and he’s playing like a pup half his age. He’s firmly entrenched as one of the best NHL players of all time, despite a three-year hiatus to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

His point tally with the Florida Panthers so far this season is 30 points in 38 games, and his career point totals place him fourth behind Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe. Could his youthfulness help him play long enough to leapfrog him over Howe and Messier to second behind the Great One?

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