At times this season, the Bruins have been buoyed by the brilliant play of netminder Tuukka Rask, but his teammates decided Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets was as good a game as any to give the veteran keeper the equivalent of a night off.
In the first frame, a scoreless period of play, both sides looked roughly equal in terms of puck possession, but the shot clock showed the chasm between the way the two offenses were playing. The Jets mustered only two even strength shots, and four total, in the entire first period. It was a sign of what was to come for the remainder of the contest, too.
Through the second and third periods, the Jets managed only eight more shots, and Winnipeg didn’t even manage a single 5-on-5 shot — not one! — for the entire duration of the second frame, all the while the Bruins poured it on and completed the second period with a 27-7 shot advantage. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Boston had outshot Winnipeg 38-12. The Jets’ shot total was the lowest posted by any team this season.
Of course, as these things somehow have a way of going, Rask would end up surrendering a late goal to Adam Lowry to have his seemingly simple shutout foiled, but it wasn’t even close to enough from the Jets. Goals from Matt Beleskey, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Schaller made the difference for Boston and helped Rask pick up his 11th victory of the season with relative ease.
It’s not the easiest victory the league has seen in the modern era, though. Here are the five least taxing outings — and subsequently easiest victories — among NHL netminders:
5. David Aebischer, Colorado Avalanche — Jan. 27, 2001
Only two goaltenders make the list while also surrendering a goal against, and one of them is Aebischer. In a meeting with the Predators, who were in just their third season of existence, Vitali Yachmenev scored on one of the nine shots Nashville was able to muster in a game in which the Avalanche skated to a 5-1 cakewalk of a victory.
Aebischer’s gig with the Avalanche was cushy to begin with given he was backing up arguably the greatest goaltender in league history in Patrick Roy all the while on a Colorado team that was headed for a Stanley Cup victory.
4. Brent Johnson, St. Louis Blues — Dec. 15, 2001
Johnson isn’t the first netminder who comes to mind when you think of the Blues, but he happens to be one of the handful of goaltenders who have had plenty of success in St. Louis over the years. During his five-year stint with the Blues, he posted 76 wins, putting him into seventh spot all-time in franchise victories.
None of those wins came easier than the mid-December 2001 tilt against the Calgary Flames, though. Johnson stopped nine shots all game and his busiest period saw him face just four shots, this despite the Flames earning five power plays in the contest.
3. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils — Dec. 04, 2003
Few will be shocked to find Brodeur on the list, especially during the height of the Devils’ smothering defensive structure pre-lockout. It was almost unfair how badly New Jersey beat down the Washington Capitals, who were on their way to one of the worst seasons in franchise history and a first-overall draft choice that would bring them captain Alex Ovechkin.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Devils’ 3-0 victory, Brodeur had been forced to make just nine stops, all the while watching counterpart Olaf Kolzig dart around the crease to turn aside 38 of 41 shots the Devils threw on net.
Amazingly, this wasn’t even the easiest game of Brodeur’s career, because…
2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils — Dec. 18, 1996
Eight shots. That’s it. That’s all the action Brodeur saw in the mid-December tilt with the Vancouver Canucks. But it wasn’t actually the smoothest sailing for New Jersey, despite the fact that they limited to four shots total over the course of the second and third periods. A marker by Vancouver’s Gino Odjick in the second period put a scare into the Devils.
It was an awfully one-sided goalie duel, but somehow, Canucks netminder Mike Fountain made a game of it. The Devils would eventually come through, though, thanks to goals from Denis Pederson and Steve Sullivan. Had Fountain managed to stonewall the Devils, Brodeur would hold the modern record for fewest shots against in a loss.
1. Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings — Oct. 27, 1995
If Corey Crawford is the modern day Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL’s goaltending brotherhood, then Osgood was his immediate predecessor. Rarely does Osgood get any of the credit for the Red Wings’ success in the 1990s, but he was excellent for many years in the Detroit net. He’s 11th all-time in wins with 401, ranks second only to Terry Sawchuk on the Red Wings’ all-time wins list with 317 victories and backstopped Detroit to Stanley Cups in 1998 and 2008.
On one night against the Calgary Flames, though, Osgood simply had to be there. He faced eight shots throughout the entire evening while watching the attacking Red Wings pelt Trevor Kidd with 25 pucks, three of which got by him.
Osgood’s easy night against the Red Wings would end up being one of the last straws for then-Flames GM Doug Risebrough. Days after the defeat, he was fired from his post.
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