Glenn Hall ranks fourth on the all-time shutouts list. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
As the Chicago Blackhawks continue their incredible run to start this season, it’s a great time to look back at some other incredible NHL streaks.
After reading these amazing achievements, you have to ask yourself, “Which is most likely to ever be broken?”
Here’s one unlikely to ever be replaced, since NHL rosters were in flux as a result of World War II. The Rangers were awful in 1943-44, finishing with a 6-39-5 record to bottom out the six-team NHL. Detroit was second – 25 points behind Montreal – and when the two met January 23, it got ugly. The Red Wings won the game 15-0 and set a record for most consecutive goals by one team in one game. It didn’t help that New York only showed up with 12 players. Rangers goalie Ken McAuley, who finished with a 6.24 goals-against average that season, still managed to make 43 saves in the game.
Just last season, from Nov. 5, 2011 through Feb. 19, 2012, the Wings didn’t lose a single game at home. The streak broke the old record of 20 held by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers. The Vancouver Canucks finally snapped the run with a 4-3 shootout win and two nights later, the Wings lost another at home, 4-3 to Colorado. Though they made the playoffs, Detroit was ousted in the first round for the first time since 2006.
For nearly three decades, the Bruins were a mainstay in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Over their run, the team used 12 different coaches, but only won two Stanley Cups – both came near the start of the streak in 1970 and ’72. They posted the league’s best record five times and won 12 division titles. At the start of the streak, Phil Esposito was a 25-year-old in his first year with the Bruins and by the end, Cam Neely’s career was being cut short. The reward for finally missing the playoffs? Boston picked up Joe Thornton with the first overall pick. The Red Wings have the closest active streak and would tie Boston’s record if they make the playoffs every year up to and including 2020.
In 1992-93, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins were still clearly an elite team that would contend to defend their title. But when Mario Lemieux announced in January he had to undergo treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease and would be out of the lineup, the Pens took a dive and won only 11 of their next 23 games. But shortly after he returned in March, the Pens went on a 17-game winning streak, which ended with a tie in their final game of the season. Though they finished first in the league, the Pens were ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Islanders – the franchise whose record 15-game winning streak they broke.
While the Montreal Canadiens hold the record for consecutive championships at five, the Islanders dynasty occurred when the league had more teams, an extended playoffs and, therefore, they won more series in a row. Starting with a 3-1 win over the Kings in the opening round series of the 1980 playoffs, the Islanders didn’t lose a series until the 1984 Stanley Cup final. Since then, the franchise has won a grand total of four playoff series.
It’s important to note that, overall, Boucher’s streak ranks third in NHL history behind Alec Connell of the Ottawa Senators and George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens. But when they set their marks, forward passing in the attacking zone was not yet permitted, so Boucher gets the nod for the modern era. For a duration of 332:01 with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04, Boucher didn’t let in a goal and earned five shutouts in a row. The streak broke Roy Worters’ mark of 324:40 from the 1930-31 season with the New York Americans. Who knows, maybe one day Boucher will have an asterisk of his own for playing in the dead puck era.
In 1983-84, Wayne Gretzky reached the 200-point plateau for the second time. (Every time I contemplate a 200-point season, my head explodes.) Helping him creep over that mark was a miraculous 51-game point streak, during which he accumulated 61 goals and 153 points. Years later, The Great One never ceases to amaze. With a 57-18-5 record, the Oilers finished atop the NHL for the first time and the 446 goals they scored that season remains an NHL record. In the playoffs, Edmonton got revenge on the Islanders from the season before, toppling the dynasty in five games. Mario Lemieux (surprise) came closest to breaking this record by scoring points in 46 consecutive games in 1989-90.
As nice as the current Blackhawks streak is, the Flyers’ achievement in 1979-80 dwarfs it. The Pat Quinn coached squad lost in its second game of the season on Oct. 13, 9-2 to the Atlanta Flames and then went on the historical run that covered nearly half the 80-game season. They didn’t lose again until Jan. 7, when the Minnesota North Stars trumped them 7-1. The Flyers clinched the Patrick Division title with 14 games to play and easily ousted the young Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers in Round 1. They moved all the way to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost in six games to the Islanders.
Known as a defense-minded center, Jarvis played every single game from 1975-1987 with Montreal, Washington and Hartford. Over the streak, Jarvis won a Selke Trophy in 1984 and the Bill Masterton in 1987 as his streak was winding down. When he finally missed a game against the Boston Bruins Oct. 11, 1987, his NHL career was over. Jarvis spent most of that season with the Binghamton Whalers, his first trip to the minor leagues in his pro career.
No, 502 isn’t the all-time consecutive games played record – in fact, it ranks as the 19th-longest overall. But among goalies, Hall’s streak reigns supreme and is extra special given that he achieved it in an era when netminders didn’t wear masks. In addition, Hall was known for mixing the standard stand-up style of the day with a “flopping” one, where he’d drop to the ice to take away the bottom of the net. Hall’s run started in his rookie season in 1955 and ran until November of 1962, when he hurt his back adjusting his equipment in the dressing room. All you can ask of a goalie is to be consistent and Hall was just that. With three Vezinas, a Conn Smythe, a Calder and ranking fourth all-time in shutouts, he is one of the best netminders ever.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.