The sports world is filled with numbers. They measure the success and failure of both teams and athletes. Some of those numbers can be measured across generations while others reflect the times and the quality of the play of that era.
The NHL, like the other major sports, is chock full of hallowed numbers that are used to measure greatness. In the early 1980's a frail 20-year-old rewrote almost every offensive record in the book and set the bar. It is likely that the bulk of Wayne Gretzky's scoring feats will remain forever.
The evolution of the sport helped Gretzky's numbers dwarf almost every other great scorer of their generation. Conversely, as scoring numbers began to rise, the standards set for defense and goaltending seemed to become nearly impossible to match.
Team accomplishments can also be addressed considering that the NHL consisted of only six teams for 25 years before expansion watered down the talent pool and added more parity to the league. The accomplishments of the Montreal Canadiens certainly can't be diminished, but it will be a long time before any team approaches their championship total.
I'm a firm believer that some statistics, actually most are useless when it comes to the enjoyment of the game. I love to enjoy sports for the ongoing competition rather than what has occurred in the past. Just because Steven Stamkos scores on every Tuesday night game with a full moon, doesn't mean I expect him to do the same next week.
That said, there are some incredible streaks and numbers in the NHL that are worth noting. Stamkos' full moon, Tuesday streak is not among them. I promise. Enjoy now!
The owner of a streak that may never be duplicated, young 22-year-old Timothy Hurlbut decided that $200 was enough of a dare to attempt a streak during a game in Calgary between Boston and the Flames.
Stark naked except for a smart-looking pair of red tube socks, our hero scaled the nine-foot glass surrounding the rink. On his way down the other side, Hurlbut slipped and fell.
He hit his head on the ice, knocking himself unconscious and spilling his Hurlbut beans and frank onto the ice open sandwich style.
Six of the longest minutes in Calgary Flames history passed as medical personnel attended to their least favorite fan. Hurlbut was carried off the ice on a stretcher to a smattering of applause which quickly turned to boos when young Timothy waved dueling "rock on/hook 'em horns" fists in the air.
The Detroit Red Wings own the longest current streak at 21 consecutive seasons making the postseason but have a way to go to reach the Boston Bruins' mark.
The Bruins went to the playoffs a record 29 years straight from the 1967-68 season until the 1995-96 season
The New York Islanders set a gold standard for all North American sports franchises by winning 19 straight playoff series during their Stanley Cup dynasty run.
From 1980-1984 the Islanders took home four Stanley Cups in five playoff years.
The longest winning streak will be broken into three parts. The longest overall winning streak belongs to the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins who won 17 games in a row.
The longest home and away streak are owned by the Detroit Red Wings who won 23 straight last season at home and 12 consecutive road games in the 2005-06 season.
They say misery loves company. The longest losing streak is shared by two franchises: the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks with 17 consecutive losses.
The 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins lost 14 consecutive home games and the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators lost an unbelievable 38 straight road games.
The longest streak of games played without a loss belongs to the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers. The Broad Street Bullies were no longer as ferocious, but couldn't be defeated for 35 consecutive games (25 wins, 10 ties).
The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens went 34 home games without a loss and the 1974-75 edition of Les Habitants played 23 straight road games without tasting defeat.
It is hardly arguable that the Montreal Canadiens are the most successful North American sports franchise based on the number of Stanley Cups won with 24.
During the 1950s the Canadiens appeared in the Stanley Cup Final a record 10 consecutive seasons, winning the cup six times.
The Washington Capitals' inaugural season set a standard for consecutive losses, but the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets did them one better by failing to win in 30 consecutive games. That's 23 losses and seven ties.
The 1995-96 Ottawa Senators and 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers set the standard at home with 17 games without a win while the Senators futility in 1992-93 sits at a depressing 38 games.
When you think your team's penalty killers are playing well, think about the 1999-2000 Washington Capitals. They killed off an absurd 53 consecutive penalties.
Baseball ironman Cal Ripken played in 2632 consecutive games. That is a number that will probably not ever be approached in any professional sport again.
The NHL equivalent belongs to Doug Jarvis who suited up from October 8 1975—October 10 1987, a span of 964 games.
The longest current streak is held by Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at 588 games in a row.
It won't surprise anyone to know that Wyane Gretzky's name sits next to most of the offensive records in the NHL. He was known for his uncanny passing talents, but in the younger years, Gretzky could pop the twine better than anyone in history. Only Mike Bossy approached "The Great One" with his goal scoring numbers and consistency.
Most consecutive 20-or-more goal seasons: Gordie Howe, 22 (1949-1971)
Most consecutive 30-or-more goal seasons: Mike Gartner (1979–1994) and Jaromir Jagr (1991–2007), 15
Most consecutive 40-or-more goal seasons: Wayne Gretzky, 12 (1979–1991)
Most consecutive 50-or-more goal seasons: Mike Bossy, nine (1977–1986)
Most 60-or-more goal seasons: Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky, five
Most consecutive 70-or more goal seasons: Wayne Gretzky, four
The most consecutive hat tricks (three-or-more goal games) belongs to Joe Malone, (1917–18 and again later in the same season) and Mike Bossy (1980–81), three.
Speaking of scoring in bunches, only Mike Bossy has matched the hat-trick of hat-tricks to tie Joe Malone in the modern era.
In an impressive mark that does not bear the name "Gretzky", Punch Broadbent holds the mark for consecutive goal scoring with 16 games in a row (1921-22).
Wayne Gretzky averaged just under two points per game through the course of his career. It was almost automatic that his name would appear on the score sheet every night over the first ten years of his career.
It just so happens that Gretzky didn't actually have a point in every single game. In fact, the longest consecutive point streak sits at 51.
During that streak in 1983-84, Gretzky scored 61 goals and had 92 assists. Mario Lemieux approached the hallowed mark in the 1989-90 season, but fell five games short.
Another NHL record that will never be broken is the consecutive games played by goalie Glenn Hall from 1955-1962.
For 502 straight NHL games Hall started for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
While Glenn Hall has the longevity in goal, the consecutive shutout streak might be out of reach as well.
Alec Connell kept his net empty for 461 minutes, 29 seconds, a span of seven games and two periods for the 1927-28 Ottawa Senators.
One of the most clutch goaltenders of all time was legendary Boston netminder Gerry Cheevers. Cheevers was known as much for his creative mask as for his clutch play.
He helped the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. It was during the 1972 season that Cheevers set the NHL's longest undefeated streak by a goaltender of 32 games.
Martin Brodeur's consistent play over the course of his career has as much to do with his place in the NHL record books as the quality of his play.
No goaltender has more wins and shutouts. More impressively, Brodeur's 11 consecutive seasons with 35 or more wins (1996-2008) reflect consistent and elite play.
During the Montreal Canadiens 1993 Stanley Cup run they won an unbelievable 10 games in overtime. The previous record was seven held by the New York Islanders. The Canadiens would win two more games in extra time in 1996 before their streak was ended.
Larry Robinson had a mustache that was built for two things: the ladies and the playoffs. Big Bird made it to the postseason for an NHL record 20 consecutive seasons with Montreal and Los Angeles.
The mustache would not escape the 1970s but Robinson managed to continue his success for the remainder of his career.
The 1993 Los Angeles Kings loss in the Stanley Cup Final was heartbreaking in more than on way for the franchise.
The four consecutive losses to Montreal in the final would begin a historical playoff losing streak that would span eight years.
It would be 16 games before the Kings would win another playoff game, tying them with the Chicago Blackhawks (1975-1980) for the longest playoff losing streak in NHL history.
The Pittsburgh Penguins hold the record for consecutive playoff wins, taking 14 straight decisions between 1992 and 1993. They were upset in the 1993 season going for a third consecutive Stanley Cup title.
The New York Islanders got the the Stanley Cup Final for a fifth consecutive year with a chance to tie the fabled Montreal Canadiens teams from 1956-1960.
However, New York was steamrolled by the Edmonton Oilers and some kid named Gretzky, falling short of the NHL record five consecutive Stanley Cups.