SUN Hockey Pool

Whitney chasing unwanted record

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:56 AM ET

Forget about Jordan Eberle’s two goals, which moved him into a tie for the rookie points lead.

Ignore the first NHL game in which Linus Omark has dazzled in regulation time, scoring his first NHL goal and adding a pair of creative assists.

Pay no attention to the fact that the high-profile Oilers rookies produced 10 points (Eberle 2-0-2, Omark 1-2-3, Taylor Hall 0-3-3 and Magnus Paajarvi 1-1-2) in the 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

No. All window dressing for the real story here.

It’s the two assists by Ryan Whitney it’s time to deal with here.

Whitney is leading the entire Edmonton Oilers with 24 points.

But that’s not the story.

He has yet to score a goal.

That’s the story.

And the story within the story is that he could smash an 63-year record to smithereens if he can keep this up. Not the assists part. That’s in the bag. The no-goal part.

OK. It’s not a record you can actually look up in the NHL Record Book, at least this year’s edition.

But, after a little research at the request of your correspondent, the league may be inspired to create the category if Whitney can maintain his current, ah, consistency.

Thanks to the people at Elias, the sports statistical magicians, following through on the columnist’s request, it has been determined that Whitney has a chance to own an all-time NHL record: Most assists in one season without scoring a goal.

The late Jimmy Thomson of Winnipeg, playing for the 1947-48 Toronto Maple Leafs, managed 29.

No goals.

Twenty nine assists.

Fifty-nine games.

In 13 years in the NHL, the man who would briefly be a Maple Leaf captain, had six separate seasons without scoring goals. He never was able to pot more than four in a year and ended up with 19 for his career to go with 215 assists.

But if Whitney can just get six more assists, no matter whether he scores or not, he’ll have the highest total of assists without scoring a goal from the start of a season.

“I guess I’m attacking the record book,” said Whitney when presented with the evidence after the game.

“That’s unbelievable. I would like to 100% say I’m going to get a goal before the end of the year.”

Whitney, 31 games into the season, is now five assists behind him and is racking up points at a great rate.

And still no goals!

Well, he has one goal. But that was, as they say in soccer, an own goal.

He scored on his own net earlier this month in Montreal.

Whitney isn’t a big goal scorer. But he had back-to-back years in double figures (14 and 12) with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has 41 in his career to go with 180 assists.

But this year he’s been unbelievably creative in not scoring.

Like the game in Phoenix when he had a shot at the open net with the goaltender pulled with 30 seconds to go.

He was inside the blueline.

Sailed it wide.

Twice against Toronto the other night he had excellent scoring chances only to watch pucks bounce over his stick.

Last night he missed another one served up on a platter, a wide open net on a cross-ice pass from Omark late in the first period. He was also set up beside the net by Andrew Cogliano with four minutes to go in the second period.

“Am I snake bit? Oh yeah!

“I want to get one.

“Obviously my teammates think it’s kind of funny. I’m taking a lot of ribbing around here.”

But the not scoring part is only half the story.

How long with the production the kids are starting to deliver, can he hold on to the team points lead?

Not past this year, that’s for damn sure.

“Actually it’s like when I was in Pittsburgh. If you can get the puck up to Eberle, Hall and Gagner you’re going to get a lot of points. That first pass is so important.

“I just can’t believe I have all these points and not one of them is a goal, though. I’ve never experienced it. I’m really pleased with my game other than that. It would be nice to get one. If I get one, even better.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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