Matt Martin was the only Islander to lead the league in any statistic the previous three seasons, and he's on his way to a fourth straight hits title. He also broke his own NHL "record" of 374 Sunday, getting to 377 hits with five games left.
It's hard to call it a true record because hits have been kept for only the last decade and the numbers are incredibly subjective from arena to arena. Still, it's a big number, and Martin is the king of the NHL hitters.
"It's cool, I guess," said Martin, who was unaware of his accomplishment. "It's not something I really focus on, the numbers. It's a part of my game that was embedded in me a long time ago."
Martin recounted how, after being a goal-scorer in his early teen years in Windsor, he was bypassed in the Ontario League draft.
"My dad told me I wasn't going to make it scoring goals, so I had to change my game," said Martin, who was the Islanders' fifth-round pick in 2008. "Being physical is what the coaches want from our line and from me individually. It's something I need to keep doing because I won't last very long if I don't."
Cal Clutterbuck is second in the NHL with 323 hits and the Caps' Brooks Orpik is third with 284.
Calvin de Haan and Michael Grabner again were scratched. The Islanders don't play again until Thursday in Columbus, when either of those regulars could return to the lineup . . . Mike Babcock Sr., father of the Red Wings' coach, died Saturday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Babcock coached Detroit on Sunday and said after the game that he will return home for the funeral this week.