10 milestones and records to watch in the second half of the season
Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
10 milestones and records to watch in the second half of the season
From shootout supremacy to power play futility, there are more than a few milestones that may fall by season’s end. Roberto Luongo finds himself on the edge of top 10 in wins, and Jarome Iginla could further his reputation as a clutch scorer.
On Thursday night, with his win over the Vancouver Canucks, Roberto Luongo officially registered a win over every single team in the NHL and it was the 389th victory of his career.
The second number is the big one, as the win puts him into a tie with Dominik Hasek for the 11th most wins by a goaltender in NHL history. With 40 games remaining and the Panthers a serious threat to contend for a playoff spot, there’s a chance Luongo could find himself in the top 10 by season’s end. It’s not just Luongo, however. Here are several other milestones for both teams and players to watch in the back half of 2014-15.
Luongo aims for career win 402
Now just 13 wins away from sole possession of the 10th most wins by a goaltender in NHL history with more than half the season remaining, you’d have to put Luongo at better than 50-50 odds to get there by the end of the season. The Panthers have been surprisingly good and Luongo has been helping them win a lot of tight games.
On pace to start another 36 games this season, even if Luongo were to suddenly go cold, the team would have to seriously slip for him to not have at taking 10th place all-time away from Chris Osgood, who has 401 wins.
Florida’s shootout specialty has them on record pace
The 2013-14 Washington Capitals set a record for a team playing past 65 minutes when they went to 21 shootouts. This season, Luongo’s Panthers are on pace to match the 22 shootout mark, but it’s hard to imagine they may not push that all the way to 22.
The Panthers have been incredibly stingy, but just as offensively starved. Whereas Washington’s shootout fate last season was tied to a high-powered offense that simply couldn’t make up for shaky goaltending, the Panthers can’t score and are rarely scored against. It seems like a perfect storm.
P.A. Parenteau plays closer for Canadiens
Sticking with the shootout, Montreal’s Parenteau has the opportunity to become the NHL’s all-time leader in breaking hearts in the shootout. The current record for game-deciding shootout tallies belongs to Ilya Kovalchuk, who potted seven in 2011-12. Parenteau, in the Canadiens five shootout wins, has the winner in four of them.
Though Montreal doesn’t go to the skills competition often, they’re still on pace to play in enough shootout contests, 12, that Parenteau has time to make good on being known as the league’s greatest shootout closer of all-time.
Jakob Silfverberg snipes in shootouts like no one before him
The last shootout mark to watch is one that could make Silfverberg known as the most prolific shootout scorer in the history of the game-deciding contest. With six goals on nine attempts, the young Ducks winger is on pace to score 12 goals in the shootout, which would put him one ahead of Kovalchuk as the single-season record holder for shootout sniping.
Jarome Iginla keeps coming up clutch
Last season with the Boston Bruins, the then 36-year-old Iginla scored eight game-winning goals. It was the third best mark of his career, and his goal scoring ability is a big reason why the Bruins miss the winger so much this season. After all, there aren’t many 36 year olds who can score 30 goals in the NHL.
Iginla is having another respectable season in 2014-15 with Colorado. Though he’s only on pace for 20 goals and 50 points, he needs just one of his markers to be a game-winner to move into a three-way tie with Sergei Fedorov and Joe Nieuwendyk for 9th most in a career, and two to sit alone in 9th.
Jaromir Jagr 18 points from fourth all-time
When it comes to prolific scorers, one would have to consider that almost no one has been as great as long as Jagr. At age 42, Jagr is on pace for 48 points, and if he were to get hot, he could still hit the 20 goal mark. It would be the 18th time he has done so in his career.
But the biggest mark will be when Jagr tallies 19 more points. With 1,799th point, he won’t just be one away from the incredible mark of 1,800 in his career, he’ll be one ahead of Ron Francis for fourth all-time, trailing only Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, and Wayne Gretzky.
Blackhawks could boast best penalty kill of all-time
While much of the talk about the Chicago Blackhawks often centers on their offensive stars like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, the Hawks actually have one the stingiest penalty kill in the entire league.
Currently operating at an 89.7 percent clip, the Blackhawks stand a chance at becoming the best penalty killing team in NHL history. The New Jersey Devils set the current record in 2011-12 when they killed 89.5 percent of their penalties. If Chicago’s mark can stay the same or possibly even improve, team’s may have to take note that a power play against the Blackhawks may not amount to much.
Buffalo Sabres’ are powerless with the power play
On the other side of the coin, you have Buffalo’s power play. No team in the entire league has played worse with the extra man than the Sabres, who are currently scoring on fewer than 10 percent of their extra man opportunities. The actual number is 9.4 percent, which is just a shade higher than the low-water mark set by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1997-98.
The Lightning finished with a power play that scored on only 9.35 percent of their attempts that season, and it’s hard to put it past the Sabres to think they couldn’t achieve a mark of greater futility.
Lundqvist’s playoff losses adding up
He may be the undisputed King of the net for the New York Rangers, but Lundqvist has had to suffer more than his fair share of playoff defeats.
As it stands, Lundqvist has dropped 43 games in the post-season, a mark matched by only 12 other goaltenders. The Rangers are nearly a lock to make the playoffs this season, and, sadly, that is going to have to result in at least a few more losses for Lundqvist unless he and the Rangers plan on sweeping their way to the Stanley Cup.
All this is to say that losing this many games in the post-season is simply a testament to how well he and the Rangers have played, as making it to the post-season is no easy feat in and of itself.
Trio of goaltenders could make playoff top 10
For all the defeats he may have suffered in the playoffs over the course of his career, Lundqvist has also been known to shut the door from time to time. One of the best goalies of this current generation, Lundqvist has blanked the opposition nine times in the playoffs. While it may not seem like much, that’s the 11th best mark in NHL history, which puts him one back of reaching the top 10. The same can be said for his 2013-14 Stanley Cup Final counterpart, Jonathan Quick.
Quick, the Kings netminder, already has nine blank sheets in just 76 games. That’s a handful fewer than Lundqvist has appeared in, and leaves one wondering whether or not, as a member of the dominant Kings, Quick may be able to shoot for Martin Brodeur’s NHL record 24 all-time shutout wins.
The third goaltender that could break into the top 10 is Marc-Andre Fleury. With the Penguins looking as good, if not better, as they have in recent years, it might be another year of the Penguins making a deep run to the Final. If it happens, Fleury may be able to join Lundqvist, Quick, and Ken Dryden with 10 post-season blankings. He only needs two shutouts to do so, and with six in half of the regular season, it doesn’t seem like smart money is against him.