Oh, the thrill of a streak. One day it seems like it’ll never end, and then, all of a sudden, it does. New Jersey Devils left winger Taylor Hall had recorded a point in 26 consecutive games heading into Thursday night’s home tilt with the Winnipeg Jets, and by that juncture, it almost felt like failing to record a point would be a bigger surprise than getting one. Alas, Hall couldn’t find the scoresheet despite being on the ice for both Devils goals. His streak ends with 18 goals and 38 points across the 26 games, equalling Patrick Kane’s 26-game streak from 2015-16 and getting Hall more than halfway to Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record streak of 51 games.
Given the era in which Hall plays, which is far less offensive than Gretzky’s, Hall’s accomplishment was astounding. In an official sense, however, it could never come close to what is one of hockey’s most untouchable individual streaks. What other streaks will be almost impossible to beat?
5. Wayne Gretzky, four consecutive seasons of 70 or more goals, 1981-84
Let’s face it: Gretzky owns dozens of unbeatable streaks, including eight consecutive Hart Trophies as league MVP. One that jumps out as untouchable in today’s era is the four consecutive 70-goal seasons. No player has hit the 70 mark since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny did it 25 years ago. Only Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos have even scored 60 in a season since then. Just a single 70-goal season would be a staggering feat. But four in a row? Not happening this century.
But what would be the equivalent accomplishment to Gretzky’s run today? Adjusted for era thanks to the handy hockey-reference.com, Gretzky would be credited with four consecutive 50-goal efforts from 1981-82 to 1984-85, as would Ovechkin from 2012-13 to 2015-16 and Steven Stamkos from 2009-10 to 2012-13 if you pro-rate the lockout-shortened year. Nels Stewart had four straight adjusted 50-goal years from 1927-28 to 1930-31. But the king would be Phil Esposito with five adjusted 50-goal seasons in a row from 1970-71 to 1974-75. Any player who could match that would be hockey royalty. Patrik Laine, anyone? He scored 40 adjusted goals at 18 and projects to 50 at 19. What will he do in his 20s? Scary.
4. Alec Connell, 461 minutes of shutout hockey, 1927-28
That’s seven games, two periods and one minute without allowing a goal for Connell that year as an Ottawa Senator. OK, the forward pass hadn’t been approved yet, but that’s offset by the fact Connell was 5-foot-9, 150 pounds and more or less wore a pillowcase for padding. It’s still mighty impressive.
If that 90-year-old record feels too absurd to even discuss, though, how about Brian Boucher in 2003-04? Five straight shutouts across 332:01. That’s the modern-day mark. It seems reachable today given league-wide save percentage is higher than it was 13 years ago, but 2003-04 was peak Dead Puck era. Goalies are better today, yes, but their padding is slightly streamlined, and they face the most shots per game in more than 30 years, so even Boucher’s mark is deceptively tough to attain.
3. Punch Broadbent, 16 consecutive games with a goal, 1921-22
Broadbent lit the lamp 27 times during that stretch. This streak feels like it’s from another planet. We did see Lemieux score a goal in 12 straight games 25 years ago, and Mike Green set an NHL record for defensemen by scoring in eight straight games in 2008-09, but 16 straight games with a goal feels positively absurd and would require an equal infusion of supreme talent and dumb luck to replicate.
2. Wayne Gretzky, 51 consecutive games with a point, 1983-84
It’s telling that Hall was the talk of the sport and vaulted into the Hart Trophy conversation by making it 51 percent of the way to Gretzky’s mark. If anyone was going to touch No. 99’s record, it would’ve had to be a contemporary such as Lemieux. He came the closest, notching points in 46 straight games during the 1989-90 season before a back injury knocked him out of Game 47.
Nowadays, a player who tallies 51 points in a season, let alone in points in 51 straight games, is considered above average. We’ve only seen 10 point streaks of even 28 games or more in NHL history, and no one has topped 30 straight since Mats Sundin in 1992-93. In fact, 30 is the record for any player not named Gretzky or Lemieux. Nobody’s touching this one.
Glenn Hall, 502 consecutive games played as a goaltender, 1955-62
If a goaltender played, say, 75 games in a row, he’d be a legend, front-page news material everywhere. The game is just so much faster than it was today, so much more draining, that goalies would never dream of even starting 50 games in a row. Backup goaltenders are also so good these days that coaches are better off giving their starters breaks during back-to-back stretches. Hall will never relinquish this record. He also played in an era where a higher standard of toughness was expected from goaltenders. Puck in the exposed face? Throwing up before every game? Get back in there, Hall. That was the discipline in those days. They played through countless maladies that would’ve landed them on the IR today.
Doug Jarvis, on the other hand, just dodged a bullet. Andrew Cogliano’s iron man streak ended at 830 when he was in perfect health. He was poised to seriously challenge for Jarvis’ skater record of 964 until a suspension in January ended the dream.