A while back we sat down together and opened the NHL’s record book in search of some of the game’s most unbreakable records. While Wayne Gretzky’s name is found throughout the history of the game, it was decided that other marks including Sittler’s 10-point game, Orr’s 110-point season and Glenn Hall’s consecutive games played records were also unachievable in today’s game.
In response, folks wrote back their thoughts on NHL records that won’t be surpassed including some from single playoff seasons and career playoff numbers. So, with that in mind, here’s a look at ten of the NHL’s most unbreakable playoff records.
NHL Playoff Records: Two Decades of Playoff Hockey
He was a huge part of the glory days in Montreal and it landed him in the playoffs on a yearly basis. In fact, over his 20 year career Larry Robinson didn’t miss the playoffs once. From his first season with Montreal in 1972-73 to his final days in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings in 1991-92, Robinson enjoyed the playoff experience for 20 seasons.
Over that time he played in 227 postseason games and recorded 144 points (28g-116a). Recently, the great Nicklas Lidstrom also reached the milestone of 20 straight NHL playoff appearances. He played in 263 games over the 20 playoff seasons – racking up 183 points (54g-129a).
While Brett Hull made the playoffs in 19 straight seasons and Larry Murphy did it 18 consecutive years, the way the game has changed and the number of teams that miss out on postseason action on a yearly basis is likely why we won’t see another player make 20 consecutive trips to the NHL playoffs – at least not anytime soon.
NHL Playoff Records: Eight Points, One Night
Sittler had 10 points one night in the regular season. To this day, that record has yet to be broken and remains one of the more untouchable regular season records in hockey. In the playoffs, the record for the most points in one night belongs to two skaters.
In 1988, Patrik Sundstrom scored eight points (3g-5a) for the Devils in a 10-4 win over the Washington Capitals. The eight-point plateau was reached again by a guy named Mario Lemieux in 1989. The NHL great scored five goals and added three assists in a 10-7 victory over the Flyers.
The most recent attempt to conquer this record happened in May 2010 when Johan Franzen put up four goals and two assists against the San Jose Sharks – helping the Red Wings to a 7-1 victory. However, will the playoff record for points in a game ever be touched? The scoring forecast recently would suggest otherwise.
NHL Playoff Records: The Great One’s Postseason Mastery
If it wasn’t enough that Gretzky led the way in the NHL’s regular season record book, the Great One stands atop numerous postseason statistical categories as well. While his goals and assists records may be reachable at some point in the future, his all-time postseason points might be more untouchable than people think.
In 208 career NHL games, Gretzky recorded an NHL record 382 career points (122g-260a) with the Oilers, Kings, Blues and Rangers. It’s hard to imagine that any player in today’s game will be able to reach this mark as players tend to see less playoff action than they did when Gretzky played.
NHL Playoff Records: The Real Dynasty
The talk of dynasties has shifted in the salary cap era to teams like Chicago winning three Stanley Cups in six years. However, there was a time when dynasties meant consecutive championships – a team that seemed to be at the top year after year.
In the late 1950s, it was the Montreal Canadiens who were the talk of the NHL. In fact, they hold the NHL record for the most consecutive Stanley Cup championships – winning five in row from 1956 to 1960.
The Montreal Canadiens won another four in a row from 1976 to 1979 while the Islanders did it from 1980 to 1983. But with the way the cap has changed the evolution of teams over the years, it will be hard for any organization to match what the Habs did in the late 50s.
NHL Playoff Records: Hat Tricks Are Nothing
Looking back at Gretzky’s playoff records, there was another mark he set that seems like it will never be touched. His ability to see the game was like no other – to set up his teammates and to see the holes in the wall of the opposing goalies.
So often, the Great One made it seem easy to score at the NHL level. In fact, he holds the record for most career hat tricks in the playoffs with 10 – including eight three-goal games and two games in which he scored four goals. That mark is followed up by Maurice Richard and Jari Kurri who both scored seven hat tricks during their playoff careers.
While it’s a record that some may question it’s eligibility as untouchable, the scoring just doesn’t come in bunches the way it did during Gretzky’s playing days. That’s why it should be considered an unbreakable record.
NHL Playoff Records: King of the Crease
Easily one of the greatest goalies to ever play in the NHL, Martin Brodeur holds a playoff record that will likely remain for quite some time. Over his career, Brodeur suited up for 205 playoff games with the New Jersey Devils.
Until 2011-2012, Brodeur was tied with another goaltending legend (Patrick Roy) for career playoff shutouts with 23. But it was that year, when he recorded one shutout in 24 games, that he surpassed the former Canadiens and Avalanche great for sole possession of the all-time mark with 24 postseason shutouts.
That record goes along with an impressive 2.02 career goals against average in the postseason and should stand with the unlikelihood of goalies playing as many playoff games as Brodeur did over his career.
NHL Playoff Records: An All-Time Winner
Roy may have lost his playoff shutout record at the hands of Brodeur, but when it comes to the all-time winningest postseason goalie, Roy’s still holds the mark. In his 247 career playoff games, the former Avs and Habs goalie won an NHL record 151 games – or 61 percent of his games.
Having won four Stanley Cups during his career (two with Montreal and two with Colorado) it makes sense that the legendary goaltender sits atop the all-time wins list in the NHL playoffs. Could it be broken? Well, here’s what it looks like behind him.
Brodeur sits second all-time with 113 career postseason wins and Grant Fuhr sits third with 92. The closest active goaltender is Henrik Lundqvist who sits tied for fourteenth all-time with 54 career playoff wins. At 33, he’s got a long way to go to pass Roy’s all-time record.
NHL Playoff Records: A Hunter’s Game
To say that Dale Hunter was offensively challenged is a little farfetched. But when it came to playing the game of hockey, Hunter was known for his physical game and numerous trips to the sin bin far more often than his offence.
And while it’s not always the greatest statistic to be known for, it does have Hunter atop an all-time postseason mark. Hunter enjoyed 18 playoff seasons – playing in 186 games. While he did record 118 points during that time (42g-76a) he also added an NHL record 729 penalty minutes.
The way the game has changed, penalties are not as excessive as they once were. Sure, you still have your highly penalized games, but not like it was when Hunter set the all-time mark. Now, when it comes to those chasing the mark, Chris Nilan finished his career in the second spot with 541 career playoff penalty minutes with the closest active player being Ottawa’s Chris Neil with just 192 minutes in penalties. Needless to say, Hunter’s record is far from being broken.
NHL Playoff Records: Making History With Free Hockey
A record that seems like it may never be broken is one set by the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. As my colleague Nissa Khan explains, the Habs won 10 of their 16 wins, on route to winning the Stanley Cup, in overtime.
While some may believe that this is a breakable record, consider this: The closest anyone’s come was the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes and the 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Both of those teams won seven games in overtime in their respective runs and both made it to the Cup Final.
It seems doable, but 10 games out of a necessary 16 wins means a team must keep the games close and take almost 63 percent of their wins in the way of extra time.
NHL Playoff Records: Coach, Player and Winner?
Lester Patrick is well-known in any hockey circle. But if you were told that he set a record back in 1928 that will never be broken, would you know what was being talked about?
If not, here’s one that no one will ever take from Patrick. In 1928 Patrick became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup Final game at the age of 44 years, 3 months and 10 days.
But wait. On top of that, Patrick also became the only head coach in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup Final game in net – a mark that surely will never be broken unless one of today’s coaches feel like suiting up.
This article was originally published in July, 2015.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.