With Ottawa rookie sensation Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond on the verge of smashing a 77-year-old mark for consecutive games with two or fewer goals to start a career, we take a look back at some other memorable marks set by NHL netminders.
10. Longest undefeated streak by a goaltender, one season: Gerry Cheevers, Bruins, 32 games (24 wins, 8 ties in 1971–72)
One of hockey’s most enduring records is also one of its most unlikely. Despite his remarkable string of success, Cheevers actually split goaltending duties that season with Eddie Johnston, with both veterans recording 27 wins along the way. Cheesy might have run the record even further if not for coach Tom Johnson’s insistence on giving Johnston his due time.
9. Most losses by a goaltender, one season: Gary Smith, Golden Seals, 48 (1970–71)
Poor old Suitcase (photo, above). No one ever talks about the fact that he holds the Seals franchise career records for most wins (79) and shutouts (9), or most regular season wins (21), most playoff wins (3) and lowest playoffs GAA (3.27) among a dozen other standards. It’s always that one mark that leaps out: most losses.
The Golden Seals were not a particularly strong defensive team that season, allowing a league-high 353 goals while scoring a league-low 199. Smith, who nobly stood between the pipes for a league-high 71 games, made 1,959 saves, nearly 300 more than the runner-up, but it wasn’t enough to save that sorry team from itself.
8. Longest undefeated streak by a goaltender from start of career: Patrick Lalime, Penguins, 16 games (14 wins, 2 ties in 1996–97)
Snapping the record of 14 set by Hall of Famer Ken Dryden of the Canadiens—and the somewhat less legendary Ross Brooks—Lalime breathed new life into a Penguins team that was desperate for a stop after both Tom Barrasso and Ken Wregget were sidelined with injuries (sound familiar?). And like the Hamburglar, Lalime was an RFA after his impressive rookie season. Unfortunately, there was no deal to be made and he ended up spending two years in the IHL before getting a second chance ... with the Senators.
7. Longest continuous shutout streak at the start of an NHL career: Matt Hackett, Wild, 102:48 (December 6 & 8, 2011)
Ask any rookie netminder about his goal for his NHL debut and he’ll tell you he just wants to get the first stop under his belt and take it from there. That’s not always easy (just ask poor Malcolm Subban), but when a goalie gets in the flow good things can happen. Hackett’s first appearance came in relief of Josh Harding after the Minnesota starter was injured in the first minute of a game against San Jose. Hackett shut the door, making 34 saves the rest of the way to lead the Wild to a 2–1 win. He made his first start two days later and held the Kings off the board until Dustin Penner scored at 3:59 of the third period. That ended his streak at 102:48, allowing him to set the new mark without actually being credited with a shutout.
6. Most saves by a goaltender in a regular season shutout: Ben Scrivens, 59, Oilers (Jan. 29, 2014)
It takes more than a bad team to allow this many shots in a 60-minute game. It takes a spectacularly irresponsible defensive effort, as well. The Oilers delivered on both counts on this particular night, hanging Scrivens out to dry just two weeks after he’d been acquired from the Kings. He stopped 50 shots at even strength, eight while the Oilers were on the penalty kill, and one while his team had a man advantage in it’s near miraculous 3–0 win over San Jose at Rexall Place.
5. Most points by a goaltender, one season: Grant Fuhr, Oilers, 14 (1983–84)
It makes sense that a goaltender might get in on the act occasionally when his team scores an NHL-record 446 goals, but don’t minimize Fuhr's accomplishments. He racked up his total, all assists, while appearing in 45 games. Meanwhile his partner, Andy Moog, was limited to a single point in 38 games. No doubt Fuhr benefited a few times from tipping a rebound Paul Coffey’s way, but don’t underestimate what Cocoa achieved. Always adept with his stick, he made more than a few plays happen all by himself.
4. Most career penalty minutes by a goaltender, regular season: Ron Hextall, Flyers-Nordiques-Islanders, 584 / Most penalty minutes by a goaltender, one season: Ron Hextall, 113, Flyers (1988–89)
Hextall's career served as a reminder that a hair-trigger temper is not the exclusive province of fourth-line knuckle draggers. He had little patience for forwards who entered his crease and was routinely whistled for the slashes he’d deliver to ankles ... or more delicate areas. He topped 100 total minutes in three consecutive seasons, and earned five fighting majors during his career (although two of them came in the playoffs). And just to add a little perspective on that second record: Zac Rinaldo leads the Flyers this season with just 96 minutes.
3. Longest continuous shutout by a goaltender, modern day: Brian Boucher, Coyotes, 332:01 (2003-04)
Hall of Famer Alex Connell actually holds the all-time record with his scoreless streak of 461:29, but to be fair the Ottawa great set his mark when forward passing was not permitted in the attacking zone, a rule that made things considerably easier on the goaltenders of his day. Boucher, who started the season as a third-stringer for a lousy Coyotes team, earned his place in history under modern rules. After posting 22:45 of clean slate relief against Nashville on Dec. 22, 2003, he was given the start against the Kings on Dec. 31. That 21-save shutout was followed by four more over the Stars, Hurricanes, Capitals and Wild before a flukey bounce ended his streak early in the first period of a Jan. 11 game against Atlanta.
2. Most saves by a goaltender in a playoff game: Normie Smith, Red Wings, 92 (Mar. 24, 1936)
Maybe if Smith had been graced with a catchy nickname by the clever sportswriters of the day he’d be remembered as effortlessly as Modere “Mud” Bruneteau, the man who scored the goal to end the longest overtime game in NHL history (six extra periods). Bruneteau, after all, went largely unnoticed that night before ending it. Smith, on the other hand, was heroic in that first round playoff series opener, keeping the Montreal Maroons off the board for 176 minutes 30 seconds to lead Detroit to a 1–0 victory.
Smith wasn’t finished frustrating the Maroons, either. He shut them out again in Game 2 and it wasn’t until Game 3 that Gus Marker finally beat him, ending Smith’s shutout streak at 248 minutes 32 seconds—another NHL playoff record.
1. Most consecutive Stanley Cup finals appearances by a goaltender: Jacques Plante, Canadiens, 8 (1953-1960)
Remarkable consistency in the context of a six-team league, utterly inconceivable in today’s 30-team circuit. Plante led the Canadiens to the championship in six of these seasons, with the team going 24-8. The other two, he lost in Game 7 to Detroit. Like Kimmy Schmidt, let’s call this one unbreakable.