Martin Brodeur owns the all-time shutout records, but for single-season deals, the Phoenix Coyotes are filling up the record books. Brian Boucher became the unlikely record holder for the league’s modern shutout streak at a whopping 332 minutes in 2003 while Mike Smith made the most saves (54) in any regulation shutout on Tuesday. That goose egg was just the historical exclamation point on a great three-game shutout streak that continues into Thursday, so it only makes sense that NHL.com’s Jerry Brown decided to compare the two.
Here are some of the highlights from Brown’s findings:
- Despite needing two more shutouts (and more than 100 minutes worth of scoreless time) to pass Boucher, Smith has amazingly already made more saves (157) during his streak than Boucher (147) did during his.
- To put that run in perspective – and raise Dave Tippett’s blood pressure – Smith has faced 45.3 shots per game in the last three contests, so it’s not exactly like he’s easing into those shutouts.
- That trio gives Smith eight shutouts on the season, tying a Coyotes franchise record.
- Let’s not forget that his great run is coming when Phoenix needs it the most. The Coyotes aren’t yet guaranteed a playoff spot, but if they end up in the postseason for the third straight year, it’ll be because they’re so tough to score on. Credit Tippett all you want but Smith is worthy of praise.
Speaking of praise, Tippett gushed about his goalie, even if he isn’t ecstatic about the defense in front of him.
“Smitty’s been unbelievable. Time after time, he’s made big saves for us and it’s been an incredible run,” Tippett said. “But this is three games in a row now. Right now, thinking about (winning) the division should be an afterthought. If we’re going to have any chance at all, we have to play better as a group. A lot of other guys need to jump in. We have to dig a little deeper. We’re going to have to figure out some things, like lineup changes.”
Perhaps Sean Burke deserves a portion of the credit for the Coyotes not even missing a beat – if not getting stronger – in net after Ilya Bryzgalov’s high-profile departure.
Whenever Smith’s streak ends, it’ll likely be an impressive achievement – and he might just make a little more history in the process.
On Monday night, Ken Hitchcock admitted that the St. Louis Blues’ starting job is fair game. Deep down, the Blues brass might really want big-money goalie Jaroslav Halak to take it, but All-Star backup Brian Elliott is making it incredibly difficult to count him out with three straight shutouts.
The latest one happened tonight as Elliott stopped all 24 Nashville Predators shots as the Blues won 3-0, giving them an eight point lead over the Detroit Red Wings and a nine-point margin in front of Nashville for the Central Division title. (Yup, that’s about as close to “clinching” it as you can get.)
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Amusingly enough, Elliott’s first shutout didn’t result in a win as his shutout wasn’t as good as Jonathan Quick’s in a shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on March 22. Even so, Elliott turned aside all 81 of the shots he’s seen in the last three games with a 186 minute and 33 second streak. That obviously makes it really, really hard for Hitchcock to deny him the playoff throne.
Here’s an interesting twist, though: Lou Korac reports that Halak will get the nod on Thursday.
It’s not a crazy choice because it gives Elliott a breather, doesn’t make things too hard on Halak and acknowledges the Blues comfortable playoff positioning, but it certainly opens the door for more “maybe too much of a good thing” material. For example: what happens if Halak gets a shutout of his own?
I know what you’re saying: poor Ken Hitchcock.
In all seriousness, though, who would you go with: Elliott or Halak? Or would you dare to continue the competition even as the playoffs begin?
Last night, the New York Islanders ended Ilya Bryzgalov’s shutout streak – and then added another goal 35 seconds later.
The “how quickly things can change” shutout theme continued today for Kari Lehtonen and the Dallas Stars, who might not look at their St. Patrick’s Day pre-game jersey gimmicks as so “lucky” anymore. Lehtonen carried a 128 minute and 32 second goose egg run into Friday and then saw Dave Bolland end it … 10 seconds into the game.
It got worse, too, as Patrick Sharp made it 2-0 about a minute and a half later.
With nearly half the first period remaining, there’s plenty of time for the Stars to come back. Still, if you want evidence of how drastically fortunes can shift from game-to-game (or even moment-to-moment) in the NHL, point to those two-goals-allowed clips by Lehtonen and Bryzgalov.
Update: the Blackhawks won the game 4-1. Check out highlights below.