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Some records are not meant to be broken

Friday, 08.21.2009 / 10:00 AM / Inside the Numbers

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

 
Terry Sawchuk earned the 103rd shutout of his career on Feb. 1, 1970, when the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-0 at Madison Square Garden. It was his only shutout as a Ranger -- and the last one of his career; he died less than four months later.

Sawchuk's mark has stood for almost 40 years. But it's more than likely that it won't make it through this season. Martin Brodeur enters 2009-10 with 101, and it's not unreasonable to expect that he'll end the season having eclipsed a record that was long thought to be unbreakable.

But there are marks that figure to stand the test of time. Here are a few:

Most points, career: Wayne Gretzky, 2,857

A lot of Gretzky's offensive marks will be hard to beat -- he played in an age when offense was king. Today's goaltenders are better-coached, are more athletic and have better equipment, and teams pay a lot more attention to defense,

But of all his records, this is the one that will be the toughest to top. Gretzky's assist total of 1,963 would make him No. 1 on the all-time scoring list (Mark Messier is No. 2 with 1,887 points) -- but he also scored a record 894 goals. To put Gretzky's margin in perspective: a baseball player would have to hit well over 1,000 home runs to exceed Barry Bonds' career record by the same percentage that Gretzky's career points total exceeds Messier's.

Gretzky once said that Sidney Crosby could break a lot of his records. As great a player as Crosby may become (he's already among the NHL's best), this is one that he won't get.

Most goals by a rookie: Teemu Selanne, 76 in 1992-93

Selanne was an unknown from Finland when he burst into the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93 and immediately began terrorizing goaltenders. He blew past Mike Bossy's rookie record of 53 goals and didn't stop until he'd reached 76, tying him with Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny for the League lead.

Selanne added 56 assists for 132 points, also a record for first-year players.

Since then, the only rookie to score more than 45 goals was Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who had 52 (and 106 points) in 2005-06. Like Selanne, he won the Calder Trophy.

Selanne has gone on to have a career that's likely to earn him a berth in the Hall of Fame, But he's never come close to matching his rookie magic -- in fact, he dropped to 25 goals and 54 points in 51 games in his second season and didn't even reach that total again until 1996-97, when he had 51 goals for Anaheim.

Fastest three goals: Bill Mosienko, 21 seconds on March 23, 1952

Mosienko and the Chicago Black Hawks (that's how they spelled it in those days) appeared to be on the way to a season-ending loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden when Mosienko had the greatest shift of any player in NHL history.

The speedy right wing beat Rangers goaltender Lorne Anderson at 6:09 of the third period ... and at 6:20 ... and again at 6:30. That's three goals in 21 seconds, an accomplishment that has never been approached (Jean Beliveau is next with three in 44 seconds).

Mosienko's big night in the Hawks' 7-6 win has overshadowed his career accomplishments. He and the Bentley brothers, Max and Doug, formed the "Pony Line," one of the great trios in NHL history, and he finished his 14-year NHL career (all with Chicago) with 258 goals and 282 assists for 540 points -- good enough to earn him a berth in the Hall of Fame.

Most consecutive complete games by a goaltender: Glenn Hall, 502

Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Champs GearOf all the marks in the NHL record book, this is probably the safest.

Hall took the ice for the Detroit Red Wings' season opener in 1955-56 and played all 70 games. He did the same thing the following season. The Wings sent him to Chicago in the summer of 1957, and he played all 70 games for the Hawks for five consecutive seasons, leading Chicago to a Stanley Cup in 1961.

Hall's ironman streak grew to 502 games. But in Game No. 503, against Boston on Nov. 7, 1962, he had to be lifted in the first period due to a back injury. Hall wound up playing "only" 66 of Chicago's 70 games. Ironically, though his career lasted through the 1970-71 season, he played more than 50 games only once after 1963-64.

Given that the NHL season has grown to 82 games from 70 and the League now has 30 teams instead of six, Hall's mark appears safe for the ages.

Most saves in a game: Sam LoPresti, 80

The first-place Boston Bruins came out firing against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 4, 1941, setting an NHL record by firing 83 shots on goal -- a mark no team has come close to in nearly seven decades. The only reason the Hawks weren't run out of the building was a 24-year-old rookie goaltender named Sam LoPresti, who had only recently been called up from the minors to replace Paul Goodman.

The Minnesota native made 27 saves in the first period, 31 (on an NHL-record 33 shots) in the second and 22 more in the third, keeping the Hawks close in what became a 3-2 loss. Boston forward Johnny Crawford, when asked afterward if LoPresti was good or just lucky, said "He was good all right -- if he hadn't been good, he wouldn't be alive now."

A couple of years later, LoPresti was lucky to be alive at all. After playing 47 games for the Hawks in 1941-42, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy; several months later, he was aboard a merchant ship that was torpedoed and spent 42 days on a lifeboat before being rescued.

LoPresti never played in the NHL again -- though his son, Pete, was an NHL goaltender for six seasons in the 1970s.

Fastest two goals, both teams: St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, 2 seconds


The Boston Bruins were down 6-4 at home to the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 19, 1987, when Ken Linseman scored to give the Bruins some hope. But Boston's comeback dreams were quickly dashed when Doug Gilmour scored into an empty net at 19:52, sealing the Blues' 7-5 victory and setting the record for the fastest two goals by two teams.

The laws of time and space would seem to make it virtually impossible for this record to be broken, though Chicago and the Minnesota North Stars came close on Nov. 5, 1988, by scoring twice in three seconds (both with the goaltender in the net). The Minnesota Wild also came close, scoring twice in three seconds to beat Chicago 4-2 on Jan. 21, 2004 -- the fastest two goals ever scored by one team.


Quote of the Day

We've got a team filled with captains, that's what I think. With these first two games we got in, we're really dominating and moving the puck really fast, and it's worked out really good.

— U.S. goalie Brandon Halverson after a 6-0 win against Germany in the World Junior Championship on Sunday