Whitewash Wednesday

The focus of The Hockey Goal-Digger unfortunately neglects the heroes between the pipes. Once a week, I’ll do my best to make amends.

WHITEWASH WEDNESDAY: Martin Brodeur Sets All-Time Shutout Record

2017-05-10T17:48:48+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Whitewash Wednesday|

“Never” is a long-time to say a record won’t be broken, but Marty Brodeur’s NHL standard for shutouts has that air about it.

In 2009, Brodeur caught up to Terry Sawchuk’s 103 shutouts and tacked on 22 more before his career was over, to end up with 125.

Roberto Luongo is next on the active list with 73, but he’s 38 years old. After that you get to Henrik Lundqvist, who is still in his prime years, but has less than half of Brodeur’s lifetime total (61). No other active goaltender has as many as 45 shutouts.

So get used to seeing Brodeur atop the list. He’s not going anywhere.

Four times Brodeur posted double-digit shutouts in a season. Twice (consecutively) he posted a goals-against average of under 2.00. And perhaps most impressively, while Brodeur averaged one shutout for every 10.1 games during the regular season, his ratio rose to one every 8.5 games come playoff time.

And his GAA in all-star games was a respectable 7.33. But enough silly talk: Brodeur won the Vezina Trophy four times.

His record-setting performance came against the defending Cup champion Penguins on Dec. 21, 2009. The clip shows the waning minutes of the third period, including a vintage Brodeur save on Evgeny Malkin. You also get to hear Doc Emrick as the Devils TV play-by-play man. And the Penguins even showed Brodeur as much respect as is permissible by the unwritten rules, announcing his achievement in the arena immediately following the game. And if you look closely, a player or two of theirs even managed to sneak in a tap of Brodeur’s pads.

WHITEWASH WEDNESDAY: Brian Boucher’s Incredible Shutout Streak

2017-05-03T16:34:18+00:00 May 3rd, 2017|Whitewash Wednesday|

It’s one of the most unlikely records ever achieved by an NHL player. And yet it has had every reason to remain obscure, even though it was accomplished during the 21st century.

Hockey players being a modest bunch generally speaking, you never hear Brian Boucher on NBCSN telecasts being prompted to remind viewers that he once strung together five straight shutouts at the NHL level.

For 332 minutes and 1 second in the 2003-04 season, nary a shot got by him. Those five-plus games, however, were played with a team that finished 13th in the Western Conference that season and were in the midst of a 6-year absence from the playoffs. And, they played their home games in the desert.

So when he took out the Capitals with an record-tying fourth consecutive shutout, inappropriate attention was likely directed at what he might do for an encore.

The streak, which began on New Year’s Eve had not resolved to end itself just yet, and Boucher set the modern-day record of five consecutive shutouts with a 2-0 win in Minnesota on January 9.

It took a fluky goal in Boucher’s next start against Atlanta to end the streak at 6:16 of the first period, when Randy Robitaille’s shot caromed off the chest of Coyotes defenseman David Tanabe and past Boucher. It would be the only goal Boucher gave up in the game, which ended in a 1-1 tie.

Though Boucher never got to lead the Coyotes to the playoffs, he compiled a very solid Stanley Cup record in two separate stints with the Flyers, going 21-18 in 43 postseason starts, with a 2.36 GAA.

And now the Woonsocket, R.I., native has risen through the ranks of hockey analysts, establishing a concise analytical style and regular rinkside appearances through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

WHITEWASH WEDNESDAY: Mike McKenna Posts His Only NHL Shutout

2017-04-12T16:55:56+00:00 April 12th, 2017|Whitewash Wednesday|

Goaltending jobs at the elite level are scarce. Skaters who have toiled in the minor leagues get far more looks proportionally in the big show than do goaltenders. A goalie gets hurt, the backup plays. A skater goes down, a minor leaguer comes up.

So when one of these dreamers who has just enough talent to play at the NHL level, but can’t quite stick, gets a shutout, it’s not just a fleeting moment of glory, it’s a full 60 minutes of it.

Mike McKenna, born in St. Louis in 1983, made it to the NHL at the age of 25 after four seasons in the minors. A midseason call up by the Lightning, McKenna made his first start against the Penguins in February, 2009. He shut out the eventual Cup winners through two periods, but Pittsburgh came out on top, 4-3, in overtime.

McKenna was back in the Tampa Bay net for their next game against the Islanders, and in his second NHL start he shut out New York, 1-0.

The 15 games McKenna played for the Lightning that year, however, would be a personal high.

Though still active in the minors, McKenna has only made one appearance in the NHL in the last three years. And that’s too bad, because his post-game interview shows an upbeat guy with winning modesty. Yeah, him and 383 other NHL players. Still it’s never less than refreshing to see.

McKenna is 34 now, but back in the Lightning organization, following stops with the Devils, Blue Jackets and Coyotes.

And finally . . . congratulations if you recognize the men wearing those sweaters as New York Islanders.