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10 Most Unbreakable NHL Playoff Records


Two years ago, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo delivered an unprecedented performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In a harrowing five-overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their first-round game, he stopped 85 shots. That broke Kelly Hrudey’s playoff record of 73, set in 1987.

Earlier this week, New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin gave Korpisalo a run, making 79 saves in a triple-overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, good for the second-most in a playoff game.

So while Korpisalo’s record is incredible, it doesn’t seem unbreakable. Someone almost eclipsed it two years later.

Some NHL playoff records, however, seem unbreakable. What are they? Here are my picks for the NHL’s 10 most unbreakable postseason records.

Warning: I won’t count the Tampa Bay Lightning and Andre Vasilevskiy’s record 18 wins in the 2020 playoffs. Unless the NHL ever rolls out a bubble with a round robin and one game round, 18 wins is a 100% unbreakable record, as the traditional path to a Stanley Cup tops out at 16 wins. For this list, we’ll be looking at records that, at least theoretically could be broken.

Honorable mention

In 1992-93, the Montreal Canadiens went to overtime a record 11 times in a single playoff series. They won 10 of those games, including 10 in a row, during their Stanley Cup-winning spring. So why is he missing the cup? Working overtime is not a reflection of an era. Theoretically, this could still happen 11 times to any team in a year. I don’t consider the unbreakable streak as anomalous as it was at the time.

10. Rick Middleton: 19 points in a playoff series, 1982-83

We start with a record that will be hard to eclipse because playoff games simply have a lot less offense than in the 1980s. what “Nifty” Middleton did in 1983. His 19 points in seven games against the Buffalo Sabers in the Adams Division Finals included 10 in two games. stretch. The record is “only” 10and on the roster because there’s one current player talented enough to produce like that for seven games: Connor McDavid. You never know, right?

9. Bryan Trottier: 27 consecutive playoff games with a point, from 1979-80 to 1981-82

So many changes every year in today’s NHL. The Montreal Canadiens have gone from the Stanley Cup Finals to last place overall on a season-over-season basis. To go 27 games in a row with a playoff point, a player needs real continuity – the quality of the team and the teammates. It makes sense that the longest point streak in playoff history belongs to the front-row center on a full Hall of Famers line in the middle of a dynasty. Trottier’s streak will be hard to match.

8. Jarri Kurri: 12 goals in a playoff series, 1984-85

It’s one thing to have 19 points in a series like Middleton. It’s quite another to personally score 12 times in a series. And Kurri did it in six games! His shoot-off against the Chicago Black Hawks (since renamed the Blackhawks) included three hat tricks in the final five games of the series. As you can imagine, Wayne Gretzky assisted on nine of Kurri’s 12 goals in this series, which propelled the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

7. Montreal Canadiens: five consecutive Stanley Cups, from 1955-56 to 1959-60

See a pattern in the middle section of this listing? Here is another record that will never be equaled because the landscape of the league is so different. The mid-1950s Habs won five consecutive cups (a) in a six-team league; (b) winning 10 playoffs in total; and (c) got some help monopolizing the best French-Canadian talent in the NHL. In today’s salary cap world, two consecutive Stanley Cups is a monumental achievement. Heck, no team has even won three or more titles in a row since the New York Islanders in the early 1980s.

6. Patrick Roy: 151 playoff wins

The goalkeeper position has changed drastically in the last five to ten years alone. It requires a lot more east-west movement during a game and it taxes the goalkeeping corps. That’s why 70-game seasons, which were commonplace for the likes of Martin Brodeur, have become unicorns. For a goalie to win 151 playoff games, that’s an average of 10 a year over a 15-year span, or an average of reaching the conference finals every year over a 15-season span. The odds of a goaltender being on teams that play that many playoff games in their career are already slim considering my previous points on cap and parity. But also have the physical longevity to be a No.1 goalie for that long? Almost impossible. Roy’s 151 wins are 38 more than second-placed Brodeur’s 113. Marc-André Fleury, the best active player, has 92. He could win the Stanley Cup three years in a row without catching Roy.

If there is a goalkeeper with a chance to threaten the mark one day? It’s Andrei Vasilevsky. With Tuukka Rask retiring this year, Vasy is already second in playoff wins among active goaltenders, and he’s just 27 years old.

5. Chris Chelios: 24 seasons in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Have a 24 year old NHL career is incredibly unlikely. Only eight players have recorded so many seasons, ever. But to do the playoffs 24 times is positively absurd. Chelios has done it in 24 of 26 seasons. No other player has done it more than 21 times.

And if we dig deeper: No asset player as has done more than 18 times. Parity and cap constraints make it much harder to play on a playoff-caliber team every season. Chelios also spent much of his career at a time when 16 of 21 teams, or 76%, reached the big dance. Now it’s 16 out of 32, or 50%. A 24-time post-season player? This will not happen again unless the league contracts and/or eliminates the cap.

4. New York Islanders: 19 straight playoff wins, 1979-80 to 1983-84

The aforementioned Habs dynasty holds the record for consecutive cups, yes. But the Isles dynasty, which has won four straight cups, has nearly doubled the playoffs. By the time the Isles took over, the NHL had adopted the four-round playoff format. The four Cup races gave them 16 series wins, and since winning three more to reach the 1984 Stanley Cup final before losing to Edmonton, the Islands have finished with an astonishing 19 straight wins. serial.

3. Henri Richard: 11 Stanley Cup wins as a player

Only three franchises, let alone players, have 11 or more Stanley Cups. “The Pocket Rocket”, the winningest hockey player of all time, had more rings than he had fingers and thumbs to wear them. He’s a worthy Hall of Famer, but his number of Cups came from playing in a six-team league in a routinely dominating Habs organization. In the all-time standings for Cup wins as players, the top five and 12 of the top 13 have won all of their championships with Montreal. The league setup is just too different today for anyone to duplicate that feat.

2. Wayne Gretzky: 382 playoff points

Gretzky is the most dominant athlete in the history of major team sports, his numbers are so cartoonish that he would still be hockey’s all-time leading scorer even if he had never scored a goal. He outplayed his competitors just as significantly in the playoffs as he did in the regular season. His 382 points put him 87 ahead of second-placed Mark Messier, but 149 ahead of third place. Gretzky’s total nearly doubles that of active leader Sidney Crosby (195), who ranks seventh all-time. Not only will there never be another Gretzky, but the offense may never match its 1980s highs again, so the No. 99’s record is extremely secure. Also consider this place a stand-in for its playoff goals and assist records, as those are out of reach as well.

1. Dale Hunter: 731 penalty minutes in the playoffs

Hunter’s playoff PIM totals seem to come from a pit of alternate-universe hockey gladiators on a distant planet. He once had 99 PIM in a single playoff year. He was 98 another playoff year. He is 190 PIMs ahead of any other player, including all of his contemporaries who played when the sport was far more violent. The closest active player is Corey Perry at 254, so Hunter has nearly tripled that total.

Not only does playoff hockey have far fewer fights and dirty plays than before, but the types of players who rack up PIM simply don’t play as much anymore. Consider the No. 2 all-time PIM in playoff history, Chris Nilan. Players of his ilk get the chance to play five minutes in a postseason game these days if they make the team.

Which is far from saying: it is impossible for a player to accumulate 731 PIM for his career during the playoffs in the modern NHL. The game is too different now.




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