You don't have to be a mathematician to love numbers -- especially hockey numbers. Each tells a story of its own, whether it's 1,963 (Wayne Gretzky's career assists, more than any other player's points total); 1,767 (Gordie Howe's record for games played, just 11 more than Mark Messier, who opted to retire before breaking the record) or 5,771 (players listed as playing in at least one NHL regular-season game)
Here are a few interesting NHL facts and figures involving goaltenders that you might not have known about:The perfect goalies
-- We all want to be perfect. Cody Rudkowsky and Olivier Michaud were.
Rudkowsky has played more minutes than anyone in NHL history without giving up a goal. He entered St. Louis' game at Edmonton on Oct. 24, 2002, after Curtis Sanford left with a sprained ankle 9:57 into the second period and stopped all 10 shots he faced, leading the Blues to a 2-1 victory. It was the only NHL appearance for the Alberta native -- the Blues signed Tom Barrasso the same day, consigning Rudkowsky to a career in the minors.
Michaud, an 18-year-old called up by Montreal due to an injury to Jose Theodore, got his chance at perfection on Oct. 30, 2001, after the Oilers beat goaltender Mathieu Garon three times in the first two periods. The Quebec native became the youngest goaltender ever to take the ice for the Canadiens when he played the final 18:05 and turned aside all 14 Edmonton shots, though the Oilers went on to a 3-1 victory. No goalie in NHL history has made more saves in a career without giving up a goal. Despite his perfect showing, Michaud never made it back to the NHL, though he's played in the ECHL, AHL and was active in the North American Hockey League this past season.The power of one
-- Ray Leblanc was an unlikely Olympic hero for the Team USA at the 1992 Winter Games -- the career minor-leaguer's goaltending (2.20 GAA in eight games) got the unheralded Americans into the semifinals, though they wound up finishing fourth.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who owned Leblanc's rights, promised him that he would get a full game in goal to enable him to be eligible for the upcoming expansion draft. The Hawks played him against San Jose on March 10, 1992 -- and Leblanc didn't disappoint, stopping 21 of 22 shots in a 5-1 victory over the first-year Sharks at Chicago Stadium.
Leblanc was named the game's No. 1 star, but was soon back with the Indianapolis Ice of the International Hockey League. He played in the IHL, AHL and ECHL until 1999-2000, winning 170 games but never getting another chance in the NHL. He is the only player in NHL history to play exactly one 60-minute game in the NHL and allow just one goal; he and Dave Gatherum (2-0-1 in three games for Detroit in 1953-54) are the only netminders to finish with a GAA of exactly 1.00.No goals, no win
-- In all, 362 goaltenders have managed at least one NHL shutout. And 361 of them have won a game. The one who didn't: Joe Ironstone, a goaltender who played briefly with the New York Americans and Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1920s. The Leafs got Ironstone on a loan from the Toronto Ravinas of the Canadian Professional Hockey League, a minor-league affiliate, after John Ross Roach was injured. He played against Boston at Maple Leaf Gardens on March 3, 1928, and was flawless, but the Leafs couldn't score and the game ended in a 0-0 tie after 10 minutes of overtime.
Roach was back in the net for the Leafs' next game five days later, and Ironstone never made it back to the NHL
Ironstone, who had allowed three goals in 40 minutes with the Americans in a no-decision in 1925-26, played 110 minutes in the NHL. He finished his career with an 0-0-1 record -- and one shutout.
-- Terry Sawchuk's longstanding record of 103 career shutouts is likely to be eclipsed by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur this season. But with the advent of the shootout, Sawchuk owns one mark that's likely to live forever: His 172 ties are the most in NHL history, nine more than Glenn Hall and 21 ahead of Tony Esposito.
Esposito is second on the single-season list with 21 ties for Chicago in 1973-74. The record is 22, set by Toronto's Harry Lumley in 1954-55. Lumley had a 1.94 GAA in 69 games that season, but finished with a 23-24-22 record because his team averaged just 2.1 goals per game.Just in time
-- If Curtis Joseph's career is finally over -- the 42-year-old netminder is a free agent this summer -- he'll miss the chance to take sole possession of an NHL record he might not want.
Joseph is fourth on the NHL's all-time list with 454 regular-season victories -- but he's tied for first in career regulation losses with 352. Then again, he's in good company; the man he shares the mark with, Gump Worsley, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joseph and Worsley have one more loss than Gilles Meloche and six more than John Vanbiesbrouck -- both of whom were excellent goaltenders in their day.
In all, 11 NHL goaltenders (including six Hall of Famers) have lost at least 300 regular-season games in regulation -- and Martin Brodeur will make it 12 the first time he loses in 2009-10.Shootout star
-- Johan Hedberg has had a productive NHL career, though no one will confuse him with the likes of Brodeur. However, when it comes to shootouts, Hedberg is in a league of his own.
No goaltender who's taken part in more than five shootouts can match Hedberg's career save percentage (.820, 11 goals allowed on 61 shots) or winning percentage, (12-3, .800) in the breakaway competition that began in the 2005-06 season. Hedberg is also a perfect 6-0 in shootouts at home; Steve Valiquette of the Rangers (3-0) is the only other netminder who hasn't lost a shootout at home.
Edmonton rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is the only netminder with a perfect career record in shootouts -- he won his only try by beating the Rangers at New York last Nov. 10. What a night!
-- As noted above, 362 goalies have at least one regular-season shutout. Nine goaltenders have been credited with scoring a goal in a regular-season game (two of those, Ron Hextall and Martin Brodeur, also scored in a playoff game). But Jose Theodore is the only one to combine a shutout with shooting the puck into the opponent's net.
At the Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 2, 2001, Theodore stopped all 32 shots by the New York Islanders as the Montreal Canadiens took a 2-0 lead into the final minute. With time running out, Theodore shot the puck down the ice and into the empty net with 8 seconds remaining, making him the lone goaltender in NHL history to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net while recording a shutout.
Exactly two years before Theodore's big night, Ottawa's Damian Rhodes also was credited with a goal in a 6-0 win over New Jersey -- but he didn't shoot the puck into tne net. Rhodes was the last player to touch the puck during a delayed penalty before a Devil accidentially put the puck into his own net.
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist