It’s hard not to feel like we’re in the looking back at better times/”smelling the roses” phase of Martin Brodeur’s career, but he sure has a lot to reminisce about. Worst case scenario, the 2012 playoffs allowed the future Hall of Famer to accomplish at least one rare feat: he can cross “100th career playoff win” off his dwindling hockey bucket list as the Devils edged the Panthers 3-2.
This win strengthens Brodeur’s hold on second place all-time in playoff wins with Grant Fuhr in third at 92. (Marc-Andre Fleury is the closest active goalie at 41, to give you some added perspective.)
Unfortunately for Brodeur, it’s borderline unthinkable for him to pass his former contemporary rival Patrick Roy, who towers over all competitors at No. 1 with 151 playoff wins. (Marty would max out at 115 if the Devils won the 16 games to win a Stanley Cup this year, for what it’s worth.)
Every now and then, a stat falls into place so perfectly it almost seems predestined. That’s how it felt to see Tim Thomas’ total of 36 saves in the Boston Bruins’ 5-2 Game 6 beating of the Vancouver Canucks.
In case you weren’t keeping track of somewhat obscure (but far from irrelevant) playoff records, those 36 saves put Thomas in a tie with former Canucks goalie Kirk McLean for the most saves in a single playoff run. Both Thomas and McLean managed 761 saves in their impressive postseason outputs.
Interestingly enough, Thomas and McLean also earned those 761 saves in 24 games played. Their overall numbers are a little different (Thomas has a .937 save percentage and 2.07 GAA while McLean had a .928 save percentage and 2.29 GAA), but they both helped their teams reach unexpectedly higher levels. A lot of times it’s easy to downplay a great goaltending run by saying that the netminder benefited from superlative defense. Thomas and McLean’s workloads (and impressive stats) show that they simply transcended the numerous challenges they faced.
Barring a rather stunning calamity, Thomas will pass McLean for that record very early in Game 7 (and probably cushion his lead with about 20-30 saves if he plays well). It doesn’t take an expert to say that Thomas hopes to surpass his busy predecessor in another more important way, though: he hopes to be on the winning end of a Stanley Cup finals Game 7 instead.
One of the great themes of the 2010-11 season was seemingly over-the-hill players showing that they still belonged in the NHL. Some weren’t all that far from their prime-years production, such as Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne; others clearly lost a few steps but weren’t just on the ice because of their reputations.
Boston Bruins veteran Mark Recchi isn’t going to threaten many of his own career highs, but he’s still a valuable forward for the B’s. He scored a solid 48 points in 81 games in 2010-11 and is averaging more than 16 minutes per game in this year’s playoffs.
That being said, he wasn’t getting a whole lot done on the power play, something that fueled his critics. Recchi finally found the back of the net on the man advantage in Game 2 on Saturday, breaking an amusing Stanley Cup finals record in the process. The 43-year-old winger became the oldest player in Cup finals history to score a goal, breaking Igor Larionov’s that mark. (Larionov scored three goals in the 2002 finals for the Detroit Red Wings against the Carolina Hurricanes at the age of 41.)
Recchi also ranks among the oldest players to score at least one goal in the playoffs, in general. It’s pretty tough to imagine him surpassing the all-time legend who owns the highest mark, though.
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That list points out just how impressive Recchi’s playoff production in 2010 was as well. Scoring 10 points in 13 games at his advanced age was quite the achievement.
Recchi can bask in these accomplishments (and many others) once his career is over, though. If the Bruins want to win, they might need a slightly older version of Recchi to score more goals next week.