Jacques Plante

Roundtable: What is your favorite hockey photo of all-time?

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What is your favorite hockey photo of all-time?

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: There are so many iconic hockey moments that have been captured by the game’s best photographers. We’ve seen Stanley Cup winners, amazing celebrations, and emotional scenes. We’ve also have been gifted the shot of Gary Bettman getting choked out by Gene Simmons of KISS.

What makes a great hockey photo? Passion, timing, lightning, and sometimes the people in  the picture. Or sometimes just the setting of the shot.

Which brings us to my favorite hockey photo. There were many candidates. Daniel Briere’s Winter Classic penalty shot. SJ Sharkie about to surprise the Capitals. Gary Coleman meeting Mark Messier and his tiny towel.

I first saw this photo walking through the Air Canada Centre press box years ago. The Stanley Cup caught my attention and then I noticed the rest of the shot, and it’s very, very good.

Hockey Hall of Fame

This is Maple Leafs coach/GM Punch Imlach after the team won the Cup in 1963 — their second of three straight championships. The photo is the perfect encapsulation of a season ending with a title: time to sit back, relax with a glass of champagne and, of course, not have to worry about practice tomorrow.

James O’Brien, NHL writer:

My first instinct was to go with a Bobby Orr Stanley Cup-winning shot that was iconic enough to get its own statue. That seems kind of boring, though, right? Maybe?

So, instead, consider a piece of hockey history that was transformative — literally, in some ways. On the fateful night of Nov. 1, 1959, Jacques Plante was bloodied after a puck struck his face. Despite the protestations of coach Toe Blake, Plante refused to return to action unless he could wear a mask he often used in practice.

Plante is remembered as much for that innovation as for anything he did on the ice as a Hall of Fame goalie. Really, though, how can you shake an image like this?

Getty Images

You don’t get much more “hockey” than that, unless you sprinkle in wild hair, robust beards, and missing teeth.

Speaking of robust beards …

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Without a doubt, Lanny McDonald lifting the Stanley Cup in 1989. Aesthetically, this photo is iconic; it shows a grizzled captain with an epic ginger beard, experiencing Lord Stanley ecstasy. But the circumstances behind this moment add even more depth to the story.

Getty Images

McDonald was born and raised a couple hours outside of Calgary and was drafted 4th overall by the Maple Leafs in 1973. He spent the rest of that decade blossoming into one of the league’s top goal scorers for Toronto. After two trades, he ended up back in Alberta playing for the Flames. In 1982-83 he scored 66 goals – still a team record, and more than anyone that season aside from Wayne Gretzky. He became a team captain.

But as his career progressed, team success was harder to come by. He had never reached the Stanley Cup Final until 1986, when at age 33, he and the Flames lost to the Montreal Canadiens, and their star rookie Patrick Roy. The Habs won the Cup at the Saddledome.

Three seasons later, McDonald had a reduced role on a 117-point, Presidents’ Trophy-winning juggernaut. He only scored 11 goals that year, but his 11th in late March gave him 500 for his career. He wasn’t done.

The Flames advanced to the final, and once again they were matched up against Roy and the Canadiens. McDonald had been a healthy scratch for Games 3, 4 and 5, but with a 3-2 series lead, Calgary coach Terry Crisp put him back in the lineup for Game 6 at the Montreal Forum. It paid off, as the 36-year-old McDonald scored his only goal of that postseason – a glove-side snipe, no less – to give the Flames a 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

They held on to win 4-2, and are still the only visiting team to clinch the Cup in Montreal.

When McDonald announced his retirement that summer, he also revealed he had made up his mind prior to the start of the 1988-89 season that it would be his last.

The perfect way to conclude a Hall of Fame career, and the perfect image to sum it all up.

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With Brady leaving Patriots, remember these hockey legends in places you forgot

Hockey legends like Brady leaving Patriots Orr Howe Hull Brodeur
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As mind-blowing as it is to type this, it’s true: Tom Brady said goodbye to the Patriots on Tuesday. It’s something that’s difficult to process, even if you’re not a Patriots or even a football fan. Yet, as Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra chronicles for baseball, legends donning strange uniforms late in their careers is no new phenomenon, and certainly not limited to the land of pigskins. So what about hockey and the NHL, then?

Hockey fans have been treated to quite a few one-team legends, including Mario Lemieux saving the Penguins more than once.

Even so, there are plenty of legends who ended spent time in jerseys that just felt wrong. Let’s ponder the hockey answers to Brady leaving the Patriots, Johnny Unitas on the Chargers, Michael Jordan with the Wizards, and Babe Ruth on the Boston Braves.

Orr down hockey Brady comparison
(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque leave Boston with very different results

At least with Brady, Boston-area fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more. Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s career concluded with questions of “What could have been?”

Knee injuries ravaged his later career, and after 10 seasons, Orr left the Bruins for the Blackhawks. Between two seasons, Orr could only appear in 26 games for Chicago.

In something of a sequel, the Bruins traded Ray Bourque during his 21st season with the team, setting the stage for Bourque to eventually win a Stanley cup inspiring enough to essentially demand a parade in Boston.

Brodeur Blues Brady leaving Patriots hockey comparison
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Brodeur finishes with the Blues

If Orr on the Blackhawks isn’t the Brady comparison you think of for hockey, then it’s probably Brodeur appearing in seven games for the Blues after winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas, and setting the all-time wins record over 1,259 games with the Devils.

(That contrast still makes me chuckle, to be honest.)

As awkward as Brodeur’s brief Blues stint was, it lacked the angst of how Orr’s career ended. That might make it closer to a 1:1 hockey comparison for Brady, although the QB could easily prove that his tank isn’t empty.

Much of this list shows examples of players trying to prove that they could still play, with most sputtering out after running on fumes.

(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hull of a change, and Howe

Bobby Hull already experienced quite a journey going from the Blackhawks to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets (scoring 303 goals in the WHA alone). Hull’s final hockey and NHL season was especially odd, though, starting with 18 NHL games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for The Whale. Gordie Howe ended up being a Whalers teammate of Hull, which is … yeah, pretty mind-blowing. Bobby Hull also attempted a comeback with the Rangers.

(Howe’s legendary career featured quite the second [and maybe third?] acts after his Red Wings days, including playing with his sons, and somehow managing 15 goals and 41 points with the Hartford Whalers at age 51.)

Bobby’s son Brett Hull experienced a journeyman career of his own. Brett convinced the Coyotes to unretire Bobby’s number 9, but that story ended with a whimper (five games) as Brett realized he couldn’t adjust to the post-lockout style of play in 2005-06.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Random Red Wings

If you’re playing trivia and “This player finished his career/briefly played for this team …” comes up, blurting out Detroit Red Wings isn’t the worst bet.

Lightning round, sometimes involving Lightning

  • Mats Sundin stunned Maple Leafs fans by joining the Canucks. There was some Alfredsson-like logic of linking Sundin with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin, yet the experiment lasted just 41 games.
  • Brian Leetch playing for the Maple Leafs was a little strange, but Leetch in a Bruins sweater will never look right.
  • Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens legend, as a Quebec Nordique? Yes, that happened. Jacques Plante bounced around quite about post-Habs, too, including eight games with the (gasp) Bruins.
  • Like Plante, Grant Fuhr pinballed around the NHL quite a bit after parting ways with the Oilers, but joining the Flames? Wow. Fuhr didn’t just play for the Calgary Flames, either, as he suited up twice for the Saint John Flames.
  • File Ed Belfour and Igor Larionov under “people you might not have known played for the Panthers.”
  • Olaf Kolzig was persistent in Washington as Godzilla could be in Tokyo, playing 711 of his 719 games for the Capitals. The eight other games came with the Lightning. (Vincent Lecavalier playing for the Kings was strange, but softened by his years with the Flyers.)

Feel free to mention other fish-out-of-water memories in the comments. Also, if you had to guess, which hockey legend will Brady mirror the most?

(Hopefully we won’t ever get that “Halloween Olajuwon as a Raptor vs. Patrick Ewing with the Magic” feeling from Brady’s final act.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Gibson – Rinne trumps Kesler – Johansen

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Three Stars

1. Sebastian Aho

Monday was a big night for Sebastian Aho, Forward Version.

He was one of only two players to generate two points – so, yeah, Monday was pretty big for goalies – and his overtime goal was so smooth (and so funny at Brent Seabrook‘s expense) that it got its own post.

Aho generated the lone assist on Teuvo Teravainen‘s power-play goal, which helped Carolina get back into the game after falling behind 2-0 to Cam Ward and the Chicago Blackhawks.

By the way, Ward doesn’t make it to the three stars, but he managed 37 saves in his return to Carolina. Worth a mention, especially for a goalie who feels very far removed from his glory days with the Hurricanes franchise.

2. John Gibson

Heading into Monday’s contest in Anaheim, the buzz surrounded Ryan Kesler and Ryan Johansen. Would the two brawl in the parking lot, like an “Attitude Era” episode of Monday Night Raw? Perhaps they would settle their dispute by gorging on goals?

Nope.

Instead, Gibson and Pekka Rinne lived up to their 2018-19 reputations as two of the best goalies (if not the two best, full-stop) in the NHL. The contest went into the shootout 1-1, but Gibson was the netminder who finished with the W, with Gibson making 34 saves (including 10 in overtime) while Rinne stopped 29 shots.

As talented as both are and as productive as they’ve been really since last season, it’s tough to imagine them avoiding the natural pull of regression, at least to some extent. With that in mind, it was nice to see those two goalies carry their outstanding work into that game, and then deliver with a true goalie duel.

The Predators lost their first road game via the shootout, yet they kept their away point streak alive. The Ducks needed this much more, even if this sticks to the script of Gibson being an all-world, MVP-caliber goalie.

3. Cam Atkinson

You can thank Aho, Rinne, and Gibson for the headline not being something Atkinson Diet-related.

(Stashes that already-extremely-dusty joke for later.)

Atkinson joined Aho as one of two players to generate two points on a low-scoring Monday. While Atkinson didn’t generate the GWG like Aho did, he bares the distinction of being involved in all of Columbus’ goals in a tight win against the Stars. This was a nasty affair at times, as you can see from this fight between Jamie Benn and Josh Anderson.

As strong a night as Atkinson enjoyed, the Blue Jackets might most heartened by the possibility that Sergei Bobrovsky could be back in the zone.

Highlights

Rinne didn’t get the win, but he probably made the most ludicrous save, although there were enough great ones in this that I could be wrong.

Anton Khudobin couldn’t grab a win or even a point for Dallas in that tense, tight game against Columbus, but he did make this save.

Speaking of nice saves in losing efforts, here’s the best from Cam Ward:

Again, Aho’s OTGWG was quite something, so check it out here.

Factoids

Maybe the Hurricanes’ barrage of shots wasn’t a product of Bill Peters? Or maybe they haven’t forgotten his lessons?

Henrik Lundqvist continues to make history, and the Rangers are quietly heating up. If you want to tank, Lundqvist isn’t exactly your guy.

Scores

NYR 2 – VAN 1
CAR 3 – CHI 2 (OT)
CBJ 2 – DAL 1
ANA 2 – NSH 1 (SO)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Halak and Elliott continue to attack Hall of Famers’ records

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Earlier this week, we spotlighted how the St. Louis goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak broke a 43-year-old franchise shutout record set by Hall of Famers Glen Hall and Jacques Plante.

Well, Halak and Elliott are at it again.

This time they’ve got former Chicago Blackhawks great Tony Esposito in the cross hairs — by combining for 15 shutouts, they’ve tied the modern-day record for shutouts in a season set by Espo in 1969-70.

More, from NHL.com:

Esposito got 56 goals of support in his 15 shutouts, an average of 3.73 goals per game — and that includes a scoreless tie against Boston on March 11, 1970. By the standards of his era, he wasn’t overworked, facing an average of 28.5 shots in the 15 shutouts. Esposito never faced more than 38 shots or fewer than 21. He faced more than 30 four times.

In contrast, the Blues have provided their goaltenders with just 36 goals in their 15 shutouts, an average of just 2.4 per game (including a 1-0 shootout loss at Los Angeles last week). But they’ve more than made up for any offensive shortcomings with their defensive play. Elliott has faced an average of just 23.1 shots in his nine shutouts, with a high of 37, and saw fewer than 20 in three of the nine. Halak has seen an average of 22 shots in his six shutouts and hasn’t faced more than 30 in any of them.

The shots-faced statistic will likely be the asterisk tagged onto Halak and Elliott’s accomplishments. While it doesn’t completely diminish what they’ve done, it doesn’t bolster anything — Halak’s made just 1060 saves this season (29th in the NHL) while Elliott’s made 860…13 more than Minnesota backup Josh Harding.

The reality is that a light workload, combined with the timeshare situation, has allowed both goalies to stay razor-sharp throughout the year. Which begs the question: Can Hitch keep using Elliott and Halak during the playoffs?

Bernie Miklasz of St. Louis Today thinks he can (and points to historical evidence as proof) but again, there’s more reality to consider. The last legitimate timeshare that won a Stanley Cup was in 1971-72, when Boston used Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston almost equally throughout the postseason.

And that happened 40 years ago.

Move over, Glen Hall and Jacques Plante…Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak are here

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The day after snapping St. Louis’ franchise shutout record — you know, the one set by Hall of Famers Glen Hall and Jacques Plante in 1968-69 — Blues goalie Brian Elliott was still trying to process exactly what he and Jaroslav Halak had done.

“Obviously with the names that are there it’s pretty cool,” Elliott told the News-Democrat after recording St. Louis’ 14th shutout of the year. “You walk in the practice rink and you see the pictures up there with a couple guys in the Hall of Fame. It’s something to be proud of, but it’s not really what you play the game for.

“You play to win — and you play it as a team.”

Selflessness aside, Elliott has to be stoked about snapping a record held by two of the greatest goalies in NHL history. He now has eight shutouts on the year and a current shutout streak of 127 minutes, 45 seconds. Not bad for a guy that was almost out of the league this summer before signing a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000.

Halak, meanwhile, has contributed six shutouts this season and, with 13 since joining the Blues, he is three behind Hall’s franchise record of 16. Not bad for a guy that was terrible to start the year and seemed to clash with former coach Davis Payne.

The fact that Elliott and Halak have replaced Hall and Plante in the record books is stunning — especially to Blues goalie coach Corey Hirsch.

“It’s crazy, you know,” he said. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think it would go like this. We were hoping for a good year out of our goalies, but they’ve been phenomenal. Sometimes the hockey gods throw you a good one. They gave us Elliott and he’s been outstanding, and we’ve known Jaro’s been good all along. He’s taken his game to another level, too.”

But for all this whimsical feel-good stuff, things will get uncomfortable soon. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock knows he has to make a decision on a playoff starter, something he thought would’ve played itself out already.

“I expected a month ago that this thing would kind of air itself out and we’d figure out something, but it’s not,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t want to say it’s more complicated, it’s a good complication. But they’re making it hard on me because both guys are playing so good.”

For what it’s worth, the Blues went to the Stanley Cup finals twice with the Hall/Plante duo. In 1968-69 Plante played the majority (10 games to Hall’s three), then the two split evenly in 1969-70 (Hall played seven, Plante played six and Ernie Wakely played four.)