Terry Sawchuk owned the NHL’s goaltending record books for decades. That puts in perspective just how good he was – and what it means to pass him in major statistical categories. Monday, then, was s truly special night for the Florida Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.
‘Bobby Lu’ stopped all 28 New Jersey Devils shots to record the shutout and his 448th win, vaulting past Sawchuk for sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s all-time list. Making things more special: Luongo did it matched up against Devils goalie Cory Schneider, his long-time friend and former Vancouver Canucks teammate.
Luongo’s charge up the wins list isn’t finished. Curtis Joseph sits fourth all-time at 454, meaning Luongo needs just seven more to pass him. Also within reach: Ed Belfour at 484 wins. Luongo will catch him – if he keeps playing after 2016-17. He won’t win 36 games between now in April, so it will take another season to reach the benchmark. He’s signed through 2021-22, but he’s already 37 years old. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he retires this summer. The Canucks hope he doesn’t, as doing so would ding them with cap recapture penalties.
Still, despite having off-season hip surgery, Luongo continues to perform at a high level. It’s most likely he’s back out there next year, which means Belfour’s hold on third place is tenuous. Patrick Roy is another story. He’s more than 100 wins up on Luongo and thus probably safe. Martin Brodeur, at 691, is guaranteed untouchable.
Luongo has other milestones in his sites. He’s currently fifth all-time in games at 953. He’ll pass Belfour (962) and maybe Sawchuk (971) if healthy in the second half. Even Roy, second all-time at 1,029, is just 76 games up on Luongo. He has a chance to take over second place by next season. He’s 11th in shutouts, as Monday’s was his 73rd. Shutouts are difficult to predict, but everyone up to and including fourth-place Glenn Hall at 84 seems within reach.
Despite never winning a Vezina Trophy or a Stanley Cup in his career, Luongo owns a significant list of accomplishments. His Olympic gold medals, one of which he earned as Canada’s starter, also count toward his resume. It thus seems like he’s building a legit case for the Hall of Fame. And, really, it couldn’t happen to a more respected and likable NHLer.