Numbers, stats, and figures are an integral part of the hockey viewing experience. The game is rife with scoring slumps, hot streaks, losing skids, and dynastic stretches of winning.
The thing is, not all streaks are created equal. Sometimes remarkable individual accolades take center stage as one particular player lights the league on fire. During the 2018-19 season, Patrick Kane was that player when he tallied 43 points during a 20-game point streak that spanned across two months.
On the other hand, teams are also capable of embarking on streaks, good and bad. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres both won 10 games in a row this past season, while the Anaheim Ducks lost 12 consecutive games between December and January.
While these examples are notable in their own right, this piece is going to go over the most impressive streaks in NHL history. It will include some of the most awe-inspiring feats that hockey has ever seen, as well as some of the most laughable instances of hopelessness.
Without further ado, let’s go streaking.
Wayne Gretzky’s 51-Game Point Streak
Wayne Gretzky was a video game come to life. An article could be made solely about the innumerable streaks and records he produced throughout his legendary career. Nevertheless, his 51-game point streak during the 1983-84 season seemed like the ideal starting point for this piece.
Gretzky started on the right foot, scoring a goal and an assist during a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game of the season. From that date onwards, Gretzky would record a point in his next 50 consecutive games, a stretch that spanned almost four full months.
During the streak, Gretzky recorded 153 points (61 goals, 92 assists). That alone would have been the 15th highest-scoring season in NHL history. He finished the 1983-84 season with 205 points, and he was held pointless in just three of the 74 games he played. Gretzky also produced another marvelous streak from 1979-80 to 1986-87, when he captured the Hart Memorial Trophy in eight straight seasons.
Mario Lemieux was Gretzky’s closest competition when he had a 46-game point streak of his own in 1989-90. Aside from that, Gretzky also owns the third and fourth-longest point streaks in NHL history, reaching 39 and 30 games respectively. In today’s lower-scoring NHL, the 51-game stretch might be a streak that stands the test of time.
Flyers’ 35-Game Unbeaten Streak
The Philadelphia Flyers were a raucous team in the middle of the 1970s. The ‘Broad Street Bullies’ combined an overly-physical playing style with exceptional skill to win back-to-back Stanley Cups between 1973-74 and 1974-75. By the 1979-80 season, the Flyers were still an elite team, but Hall-of-Fame goaltender Bernie Parent had retired during the previous season after suffering a debilitating eye injury.
While Flyers’ legends like Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, and Bill Barber were still on the squad, goaltender Pete Peeters was an unproven 22-year-old who had five games of previous NHL experience. Remarkably, between Oct. 13, 1979 and Jan. 7, 1980, the Flyers went 25-0-10 to set the record for the longest unbeaten streak in North American sports history.
They shattered the previous record held by the Montreal Canadiens, who went 28 games without a loss in 1977-78. Peeters went 14-0-4 during the run, and he did not suffer his first loss of the season until Feb. 19. The Flyers finished the season with the best record in the NHL, and they rode the momentum to the Stanley Cup Final.
Unfortunately, the New York Islanders were starting a streak of their own, as they defeated the Flyers in six games. They would also go on to win the next three Stanley Cups. Despite the unfortunate ending to the season, the Flyers’ streak will live on as one of the most absurd runs in NHL history.
Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup Drought
First off, I wholeheartedly apologize to any Maple Leafs’ fans reading this. I am sure that you have heard enough about the 1966-67 season to last a lifetime. Yes, this marks the last time the Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup, a stretch spanning 51 seasons.
The New York Rangers hold the record for the longest Stanley Cup drought of all-time, as their streak spanned 54 seasons (1939-40 to 1993-94). Alas, the Rangers went to three Stanley Cup Finals amid their drought. The reason the Leafs get the spot on this list is that they have not returned to the championship series since they won it all back on May 2, 1967.
They have had some close calls, most notably the infamous Conference Finals loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 1992-93. Likewise, they possess one of the more talented rosters in the league at the time of this piece. Unfortunately, until they take the Stanley Cup on a championship parade float down Bay Street, they’ll continue to be haunted by one of the more harrowing streaks in NHL history.
Canadiens’ Five Consecutive Stanley Cups
The most decorated franchise in NHL history is unquestionably the Montreal Canadiens. Their 23 Stanley Cup championships – plus another victory in 1915-16 before the formation of the NHL – are the most by a wide margin.
Related: Do You Know Your Canadiens Trivia?
They have had an astounding amount of legendary players throughout the decades which led to multiple versions of a Canadiens’ dynasty. From 1975-76 to 1978-79, the Canadiens won four straight Stanley Cups on the backs of players like Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, and Larry Robinson. While that streak is spectacular in its own right, the Habs were even better during the 1950s.
Between 1955-56 and 1959-60, the Canadiens won five consecutive Stanley Cups. No NHL team, before or after, has ever accomplished that feat. With Jean Beliveau, Maurice and Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Doug Harvey, Bernie Geoffrion, and Jacques Plante all on the roster during the streak, it was no surprise that the team was so dominant. This dynasty also owns another record-setting streak, as they made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 10 consecutive seasons (1950-51 to 1959-60).
Their stretch of dominance coincided with the Original Six era, so only two playoff series had to be won to hoist the Stanley Cup. Regardless, that does not take away from the sheer magnificence of the team. Nowadays, the NHL is synonymous with parity, which makes this streak all but impossible to match.
Senators’ 38-Game Road Losing Streak
The Ottawa Senators’ inaugural season in 1992-93 was a historical display of inferiority. Remarkably, the Sens won their first game of the season against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. From that point on, the Sens would win just nine of their next 83 games en route to a dreadful 10-70-4 record.
The roster was an eclectic group of rag-tag veterans and uninspiring youth, as the expansion draft was a far cry from what it is today. Defensemen Norm Maciver led the team in scoring, registering 63 points. He was one of the only bright spots on the lackluster squad. Netminding was also awful, as starting goaltender Peter Sidorkiewicz had a laughable season. He posted an 8-46-3 record, 4.43 goals-against average, and .856 save percentage.
Despite all their dismal benchmarks, their play away from home was by far the most miserable. Between Oct. 10, 1992, and Apr. 3, 1993, the team lost 38 straight games on the road, before snapping the futile streak in the fourth-last contest of the season. For reference, since 2000-01, no team has lost more than eight road games in a row.
The Senators finished with a 1-41-0 record on the road, the worst mark in NHL history. They produced an equally horrendous minus-129 goal differential on enemy ice. Nowadays, with favorable expansion rules, these lowly figures seem impossible to replicate. Thankfully, the Senators managed to collect a potent array of talent throughout the next few seasons and became a perennial playoff squad to start the 2000s. Anyhow, the road streak will last with hockey fans for the foreseeable future for all of the wrong reasons.
Glenn Hall’s Consecutive Game Streak
Glenn Hall arguably has the most impressive streak on this list. Between 1955-56 and 1962-63, “Mr. Goalie” started, and finished, 502 regular-season games in a row. While that statistic alone is a masterful display of endurance, it becomes even more impressive to know that he did not wear a mask for any of those contests. Furthermore, he also completed 49 straight playoff games during the iron-man streak, bringing the total to a staggering 551 games.
Related: The Best of “Mr. Goalie” Glenn Hall
Hall started his career with the Detroit Red Wings, usurping fellow Hall-of-Famer Terry Sawchuck for the starting job. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 1955-56 and earned a spot on the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. Hall followed up his success with a sparkling effort in 1956-57, leading the NHL with 38 wins while posting a .928 save percentage.
He joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957-58, carrying them to a Stanley Cup championship in 1960-61. He posted an 8-4 record in the playoffs, to go along with a .927 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average. He pioneered the butterfly style of goaltending that is prevalent today, combining his lightning-quick reflexes with new techniques.
His remarkable streak ended with a fluke injury 12 games into the 1962-63 season. He tweaked a muscle in his back while tying up his pads before a game against the Boston Bruins. While Hall started the contest, he was not himself, and he relinquished his position to Dennis DeJordy. The incumbent DeJordy was also in net for the Blackhawks’ next game, effectively ending Hall’s stretch of grizzled fortitude.
Hall was also the first player in St. Louis Blues history, as the team selected him with their first pick in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. Despite being 36-years-old, Hall led the newfound Blues to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence. Even though they lost to the mighty Montreal Canadiens in four games, Hall took home the Conne Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs for his efforts.
While his streak will likely remain in record books forever, Hall also had a boatload of other accolades throughout his storied career. His seven selections to the NHL First All-Star Team are the most by a goalie in NHL history. He also was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team on four separate occasions. Hall won three Vezina Trophies, led the league in wins in three different seasons, and became inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975-76. He was also named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players back in 2017.
Hall is responsible for one of the more storied careers in NHL history. His dedication to the game was unwavering, and the success he had with three different teams is incredible. While his streak may be the most memorable aspect of his legacy, there are a plethora of reasons to reflect on “Mr. Goalie.”
Bruins’ 29-Straight Playoff Appearances
The sporting landscape in North America has been decorated with extraordinary dynasties that resonate with fans forever. It may surprise some to find out that the Boston Bruins, between 1967-68 and 1995-96, have the longest playoff appearance streak out of all the teams in professional North American sports.
The streak started with a nucleus of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and John Bucyk. It finished with a core contingent of Ray Bourque, Adam Oates, and Cam Neely. They managed to capture Stanley Cup victories in 1969-70 and 1971-72, with Bobby Orr winning the Conne Smythe Trophy in both championships. They also made the Stanley Cup Final in 1973-74, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1987-88, and 1989-90, but ultimately fell short in each series.
The Detroit Red Wings came close to the hallowed mark in recent years, making the playoffs in 25 straight seasons between 1989-90 and 2015-16. Likewise, the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the longest active streak, as they’ve qualified for the postseason in 13 consecutive seasons (2006-07 to 2018-19). With a remarkable amount of parity strewn across the league today, it seems close to impossible for the Bruins to lose their record.
Bobby Orr’s Eight-Straight Norris Trophies
Following along with the Bruins theme, an article on streaks would be remiss to not talk about the greatness of Bobby Orr. The game-altering rearguard won the Calder Trophy during his first season in the league, before taking home the Norris Trophy each season between 1967-68 and 1974-75. While he technically played for three more seasons following the streak, he only suited up for a combined 36 games between 1975-76 and 1978-79.
It is hard to comprehend just how phenomenal Orr was. As a defenseman, he led the league in scoring, twice! That is a feat that no other blueliner in NHL history has ever accomplished. He also won three Hart Trophies as league MVP, the most ever by a defenseman. Orr also spearheaded the Bruins to two Stanley Cup championships, the 1969-70 victory punctuated by one of the most famous hockey moments in history.
Nevertheless, winning eight consecutive Norris Trophies is an unparalleled stretch of dominance. Doug Harvey is the only other player to win four straight, while Nicklas Lidstrom and Pierre Pilote managed to capture the award three years in a row.
Orr was a revolutionary talent that delivered one of the most illustrious careers the league has ever seen. It is hard not to wonder what other achievements Orr could have reached had injuries not taken their toll. Even though his career was limited to just 657 games, he is responsible for one of the most prominent individual streaks in NHL history.
Jets’ 30-Game Winless Streak
Unfortunately, the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets cannot fall back on the ‘debut expansion team’ excuse. It was their second season in the NHL after playing seven seasons, and winning three Avco Cups, in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Jets started their season 1-2-0 after beating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2 in the third game of the season on Oct. 17. Unfortunately, their next win would not come until Dec. 23, as the Jets would not pick up a single win over their next 30 games.
They went a ludicrous 0-23-7 over that span. They went through four head coaches in the tumultuous season. They were the only team in the league to surrender 400 goals, as all five goalies who suited up for them that season had a goals-against average over 4.50. Netminder Lindsay Middlebrook was winless in 14 starts, while Ron Loustel allowed 10 goals to the Vancouver Canucks in the only game he played.
The Jets finished the season with a 9-57-14 record, 25 points fewer than the next lowest team. One of the only bright spots was sophomore winger Dave Christian, who led the team in scoring with 71 points. Ties no longer exist in the NHL, so this streak has a claim to being the all-time worst. Thankfully, the Jets selected Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk with the first-overall pick in the 1981 draft, giving a slight silver lining to a ridiculous stretch of impotence.
Penguins’ 17-Game Winning Streak
We now go from one horrid team streak to a superb one. The Pittsburgh Penguins had won back-to-back Stanley Cups ahead of the 1992-93 season. Their roster was similar to an All-Star team, with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, and Kevin Stevens leading the charge.
Unfortunately, Lemieux developed Hodgkin’s Disease halfway through the season and missed 24 games. While the Penguins managed to stay afloat without their captain, they were not the same powerhouse with him sidelined. Thankfully, Lemieux returned on Mar. 2, and on Mar. 9 the Penguins beat the Boston Bruins 3-2, their first of 17 straight wins with just 18 games left in the season.
The streak allowed them to surpass the Montreal Canadiens as they finished with the best record in the NHL at 56-21-7. Lemieux was superhuman down the stretch, posting 51 points during the 17 wins. He scored a mindboggling 160 points in just 60 games that season, winning his fourth scoring title despite missing so much time with cancer.
After dispatching of the New Jersey Devils in five games in the opening round of the playoffs, the Penguins were stunningly knocked off by the New York Islanders in seven games. It is one of the biggest playoff upsets of all time and put an end to the Penguins’ dynasty. Despite the surprising finish to the season, the Penguins’ 17 game win streak is one of the greatest team achievements in NHL history.
Some honorable mentions I failed to include were Doug Jarvis’ 964 consecutive games and the Montreal Canadiens winning 10-straight overtime games in the 1993 Playoffs.
What other streaks did I miss? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @MondoHarrison.
As always, thanks for reading.