Top 10 NHL Playoff Records
Long after the snow and ice have left the rivers and lakes of North America, men who grew up playing on those frozen ponds take to hockey’s biggest stage in their annual quest for the Stanley Cup.
Playoff hockey is known to make even the best of the best raise their game to a new level. And, even those not celebrated as mainstream superstars often rise to the occasion in the playoffs – living their fifteen minutes of fame as the most unlikely of heroes.
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the NHL Digest version of the Top 10 Playoff Records.
Top 10 Playoff Records
10.) Most Game Winning Goals – Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning – 2004
In 2004 Not many hockey fans gave the Lightning much of a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Brad Richards, however, had other ideas. On his way to leading the Lightning to the Stanley Cup, Richards amassed a record 7 Game Winning Goals. Along with his 7 game winners, he added five more goals and 14 assists to lead all scorers in the playoffs with 26 points. Richards scored four goals and five assists in the Stanley Cup finals alone, vaulting him to the Conn Smythe Trophy!
9.) Most Points By A Defenceman – Paul Coffey, Edmonton Oilers – 1985
The Edmonton Oilers of the mid-1980′s were a nearly unstoppable force in the playoffs. So, it came as no surprise when they managed to win the Stanley Cup in 1985 while losing just twice in the postseason. What is surprising is that in just 18 playoff games, Oiler defenseman Paul Coffey, managed to rack up an astounding 37 points! Prior to Coffey’s offensive outburst in 1985, no defenseman had scored more than 25 points in a single playoff year. Coffey even managed to tie Wayne Gretzky for points in the Stanley Cup final with 11.
8.) Most Goals In A Series – Jari Kurri, Edmonton Oilers – 1985
Yet another playoff record set by an Edmonton Oiler in 1985. The Oilers were on a mission in 1985 and when they met up with the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final, it was an all-out offensive assault for 6 games. Kurri managed to notch 12 goals in the six game series on the back of a 4 goal performance in Game 6. He also had two other hat tricks in the series and lead all goal scorers in the 1985 playoffs with 19.
7.) Most Saves In A Single Game – Tiny Thompson, Boston Bruins – 1933
It isn’t often that a losing goalie finds his way into the record books (at least for good records) but one can’t help but appreciate the spectacular effort displayed by Thompson in the fifth and deciding game of the Bruins’ series with Toronto in 1933. In unbelievable fashion the Leafs and Bruins managed to play 8 periods of scoreless hockey!
In the ninth period, after over 164 minutes of hockey, the Leafs finally beat Tiny Thompson to win the game and the series. Thompson had made an incredible 113 saves. Not bad for a night’s work!
6.) Most Saves In The Playoffs – Kirk McLean, Vancouver Canucks – 1994
In the 1994 playoffs, the 27 year old Canucks goaltender took the team on his back and authored an amazing run to the Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks allowed an average of 34 shots/game, but McLean was up to the task. McLean made a miraculous 761 saves in the playoffs, with a save percentage of .928 and 4 shutouts. However, it was all for nothing as the Canucks lost in 7 games to the New York Rangers in the Cup Final.
McLean’s 761 saves are 63 more than Ron Hextall made when he won the Conn Smythe in 1987 on the losing team. If it were not for Brian Leetch’s remarkable attempt (34 points) at Paul Coffey’s record for most points by a defenceman in the playoffs, McLean would have a Conn Smythe trophy on his mantle today. Some argue that he should have won it anyway.
5.) Consecutive Games With A point – Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders – 1980-1982
In what is believed to be one of the most overlooked records on the NHL’s books, Bryan Trottier’s consistent playoff scoring certainly deserves a spot in our Top 5 playoff records.
To think that one player could score at least one point in every playoff game he played over the course of three seasons is outstanding. The 1997 Hall of Fame inductee managed to score points in 27 consecutive playoff games from 1980-1982, helping the Islanders secure their place as the dynasty franchise of the early 80′s.
4.) Most Points – Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers, 1985
Of course, no NHL Top 10 Record list would be complete without an entry from The Great One. Wayne Gretzky and his Edmonton Oilers absolutely blitzed the playoff record books in 1985.
Not only did Gretzky manage an astounding 47 points (17 Goals, 30 Assists) in the Oilers’ playoff run; he did so in just 18 games. That also gives Gretzky the record for the most points per game in the playoffs at 2.61*. Gretzky’s linemate, Jari Kurri, was the chief beneficiary of his 30 assists. As mentioned above, Kurri managed 19 Goals in the 1985 playoffs to tie Reggie Leach for the league record.
*Minimum 10 playoff points.
3.) Consecutive Overtime Wins – Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens – 1993
The Montreal Canadiens started off the 1993 playoffs very slowly, losing their first two games but ‘St. Patrick’ would bail them out. Patrick Roy did just that; backstopping the Canadiens to four straight wins against the Nordiques in the first round, four more consecutive wins in the second round and three straight wins to start the third round. Amazingly, Roy and the Canadiens managed 10 consecutive overtime victories, including 3 overtime wins in the Stanley Cup final versus Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings!
The 1993 playoffs were an anomaly when it came to the number of overtime contests. Some 28 games needed extra time during the 1993 playoffs, which happens to be a league record as well.
2.) Career Playoff Wins – Patrick Roy, 1986-2003
Patrick Roy absolutely dominates this record. In fact, Roy has 151 playoff victories while just two other goalies (Martin Brodeur 179*, Eddie Belfour 161) have even played in as many playoff games. Roy’s intensity and focus allowed him to take his teams deep into the playoffs; one of the reasons that he owns this record by such a wide margin.
On the strength of those deep playoff runs, including 4 Stanley Cups, Roy played in a staggering 247 career playoff games. This sheer volume of games played is also the reason that Patrick Roy has the most career playoff losses of any goalie in NHL history as well – 94.
*Martin Brodeur is still active at the time of publication
1.) Most Stanley Cups – Henri Richard, Montreal Canadiens – 1956-1975
Eleven. That is a massive number of championships for one payer to have been a part of as a player. This record tops our list as the most unbreakable playoff record for good reason. If we can assume a relatively long career in the NHL lasts 20 seasons, a player would need to win the Stanley Cup on average more than every two years to eclipse this record.
With the current parity in the league and the salary cap affecting players’ tenure with clubs, we think this record will stand for a very long time.
Of note is that Richard’s Montreal teammate, Jean Beliveau, has his name on the Stanley Cup 17 times. However, 7 of those were as a member of management. Imagine having 17 Stanley Cup rings!
So, what do you think?
Are these playoff records in the correct order?
Are there other NHL playoff records that you would include in this list?