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Shining a light on some lesser-known NHL records

by John Kreiser

You don't have to be a hockey whiz to know that Wayne Gretzky holds a bushel of NHL records, including most goals (92) and points (215) in a season and in a career (894 goals, 2,857 points), or that the Montreal Canadiens have the most Stanley Cups (23 since the NHL was formed in 1917).

But there are a number of marks and standards that aren't nearly as well known -- and some of those, like the marks held by Gretzky and the Habs, figure to be around for a while.

Here are a few of the NHL's lesser-known records:

Best single-season power-play percentage: 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens

The 1970s and '80s were the golden days of power plays. It was not unusual to have multiple teams clicking at rates that would be unheard of today -- Nashville was tops in power-play percentage last season at 21.9, and no team in the last two decades has exceeded 26 percent.

The New York Islanders became the first team to convert on more than 30 percent of its power plays when they led the League with a 31.7-percent success rate in 1975-76. But that mark was topped two seasons later when the Montreal Canadiens turned 31.9 percent of their power-play chances into goals -- edging the Islanders, who converted at a 31.3-percent rate.

The Isles led the NHL with a 31.2-percent success rate in 1978-79; no team has exceeded 30 percent since then.


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Most shorthanded goals: Wayne Gretzky (career); Mario Lemieux (single season)

Yes, The Great One was a threat even when his team was playing down a man.

Gretzky scored 73 of his 894 goals while his team was playing shorthanded, more than any other player in NHL history. In fact, the top four shorthanded scorers could populate their own wing of the Hall of Fame: Mark Messier is next with 63, followed by Steve Yzerman with 50 and Mario Lemieux with 49.

Gretzky set the NHL single-season record with 12 shorthanded goals in 1983-84 and nearly equaled it by scoring 11 more in 1984-85. But Lemieux removed one Gretzky mark from the record book in 1988-89, when he scored a record 13 times while Pittsburgh was short a man.

Winning percentage by a goaltender: Ken Dryden

You have to go down to 41st on the all-time victory list for goaltenders before you find Dryden's name. With 258 regular-season victories, he's eight behind Felix Potvin.

But it's the lack of losses on Dryden's ledger that really stands out. Dryden lost just 57 games during his seven-plus seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. Combined with 74 ties, he has a winning percentage of .650 -- his 258 wins came in only 397 regular-season appearances. No other goaltender in NHL history has won more than 55.2 percent of his appearances.

Most games played with one franchise: Gordie Howe

Mr. Hockey spent all but one season of his NHL career as Mr. Red Wing. He made his NHL debut with Detroit as an 18-year-old in 1946-47 and played the last of his 1,687 games with the Wings in 1970-71. After two years in retirement, he came back to play six more seasons with his sons Marty and Mark in the World Hockey Association before the three joined the Hartford Whalers in 1979 after the NHL absorbed four WHA clubs. Howe played 80 games for the Whalers before finally calling it a career.

Amazingly, of the five players who have played 1,500 or more games with one team, four did it with the Wings, and three of them (Nicklas Lidstrom, Alex Delvecchio and Steve Yzerman) spent their entire career with Detroit.

Most career points by a goaltender: Tom Barrasso

In addition to winning 369 games and two Stanley Cups, Barrasso managed to score 48 points (all assists) during his career. That's two more than runner-up Grant Fuhr and three more than Patrick Roy. Those three are the only goaltenders in NHL history with 45 or more points.

Barrasso's best offensive season was 1992-93, when he was credited with eight points (all assists) while playing for Pittsburgh. It came nine seasons after Fuhr set the single-season mark for goaltenders by earning 14 assists while playing for Edmonton.

Best career shooting percentage: Craig Simpson

Simpson, the second player taken in the 1985 NHL Draft, was a consistent scorer for the better part of a decade, beginning with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1985-86. He had seven 20-goal seasons, topped by the 56 he scored in 1987-88. He earned a pair of Stanley Cup rings with the Edmonton Oilers, in 1988 and 1990.

Simpson finished his career with 247 goals -- but he did it on just 1,044 shots on goal, giving him a 23.7-percent success rate that's better than anyone in NHL history (minimum 800 shots).

Only four players with 800 or more shots on goal have scored on more than 20 percent of them. Charlie Simmer is second at 22.3 percent, followed by Paul MacLean (21.4) and Hall of Famer Mike Bossy, who connected on 21.2 percent of his shots on goal while scoring 573 times in 10 seasons.

Most goals allowed: Grant Fuhr and Gilles Meloche

What are the odds that two goaltenders could give up exactly 2,756 goals, more than any other netminders in NHL history? That's the case for Fuhr and Meloche, who share the mark for the most goals surrendered in a career.

They got there in different ways. Fuhr spent most of his career in Edmonton, earning five Stanley Cup rings and a berth in the Hall of Fame. He finished his career with a 3.38 goals-against average in 868 games played. Meloche played 788 games, most of them with losing teams. His 3.64 career GAA might not sound impressive until you consider that he was on a winning team just six times in 17 full seasons.

Fuhr and Meloche are the only goaltenders in NHL history to allow more than 2,700 goals in a career. Twenty-five have surrendered more than 2,000.

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