1917-18 was a significant season for the National Hockey League. First of all, it was the inaugural season for the new league, recently transformed from the National Hockey Association. Second of all, players scored at a pace never again seen in the NHL.
In that first season, the league consisted of just four teams. Each was to play 22 games each. However, the Montreal Wanderers played just six games before calling it a season after their arena burned down. The rest of the league consisted of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas and Ottawa Senators.
Joe Malone of the Canadiens scored an amazing 44 goals in just 20 games. Malone played seven years in the NHL with the Canadiens, Quebec Bulldogs and Hamilton Tigers. In 125 NHL regular season games, Joe amassed an incredible 146 goals. If you eliminate the 29 total games (he scored just one goal) he played with Montreal in his final two years in the league, Malone scored 145 in 96 games, a 1.51 goals per game pace.
In second place behind Joe Malone, with 36 goals in 22 games, was Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators. Denneny played in the NHL until the end of the 1928-29 season. He played all but one year with the Senators, finishing his career with the Boston Bruins. 1917-18 was a career year in goals for Cy, coming close with 34 in 1920-21. He finished his career scoring 246 goals in 325 games.
Reg Noble of the Toronto Arenas finished third with 30 goals over 20 games in what was his first of 16 seasons in the NHL. After being traded from Toronto to the Montreal Maroons during the 1924-25 season, Noble made the move from forward to defense. Reg played 515 regular season games in the National Hockey League with Toronto, Detroit and the Montreal Maroons.
Noble lasted through two different franchise name changes as the Toronto Arenas became the St. Pats and the Detroit Cougars became the Falcons. Of course, those teams are the modern day Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
Newsy Lalonde finished fourth with 23 goals for the Montreal Canadiens while playing just 14 games. It was his first of six full seasons in the NHL with Montreal. He did reappear for one game in 1926-27 with the New York Americans while he was head coach of the club. Lalonde scored 124 goals in 99 career regular season NHL games. His career high came three years later in 1919-20 when he scored 36 goals in 23 games for the Habs. Newsy also coached the Canadiens for the 1932-33 season.
Corbett Denneny, the younger brother of Cy, rounded out the top five with 20 goals in 21 games for the Toronto Arenas. His career season for goals came two years later when he scored 23 in 23 for the Toronto St. Pats. Corbett played 177 regular season games in the NHL between 1917-18 and 1927-28. He played through all three franchise names in Toronto while also playing for the Hamilton Tigers and Chicago Black Hawks.