Monday, January 11, 2010
On this date in 2004, Phoenix Coyotes goalie Brian Boucher established the modern day NHL record for the longest shutout streak at 332 minutes and 1 second. The modern era began in 1943-44 with the addition of the center red line to the ice.
At one point earlier in the 2003-04 season Boucher had slipped to third on the Coyotes depth chart and was left unprotected in the waiver draft by Phoenix and could have been claimed by any team. He was no longer even practicing with the team, but then a groin injury to backup goalie Zac Bierk moved Boucher up to the #2 spot on the Coyotes depth chart behind Sean Burke.
The previous modern day record was set by the Montreal Canadiens Bill Durnan in 1949 at 309:21 and included four consecutive shutouts. (There are two longer shutout streaks in the record books from back in the 1920's, when the forward pass was not allowed in the attacking zone in the NHL, making for an entirely different kind of game)
The streak for Boucher began on December 22, 2003 when Boucher gave up a goal at 19:15 of the second period to the Nashville Predator's Scott Walker. He held Nashville scoreless through both the third period and the following five-minute overtime of the 3-3 tie for 25:45 of scoreless hockey on 10 saves.
Sean Burke started games for the Coyotes on December 23rd, opened their new arena in Glendale, Arizona on December 27th and started again on December 29th before Boucher's next start and the first shutout of the streak on New Year's Eve in 2003, as Boucher made 21 saves to defeat the Los Angeles Kings. It was Boucher's first shutout in more than two years.
"It feels good," Boucher said. "I mean, it's equivalent to scoring a hat trick for a forward, so it's nice to get the win, but it feels good to pitch a shutout."
The next 60 minutes of the streak came in Dallas on January 2, 2004 against the Stars on Boucher's 27th birthday in a 6-0 win. 35 saves later he was quoted as saying "It's nice to contribute any way you can. It's a nice feeling. So when I get in, I certainly want to do my part. I got an opportunity and I'm trying to play." Dallas, wearing their Mooterus jerseys, deserved to be humiliated in public.
January 4 saw a 3-0 victory for Boucher and the Coyotes on the road in Carolina. Boucher's 26 saves to extend the streak to 205:45.
"Right now the puck looks like a beach ball to him," Phoenix coach Bob Francis said. "He's following it, squaring up, getting sound positionally and his concentration level is outstanding."
"Things are just going well and hopefully we can ride it for as long as possible," Boucher said.
People really began to take notice nationally as the Washington Capitals were the next to fall at home in a 3-0 loss as Boucher became the first goalie in 55 years to record four consecutive shutouts after his 27 save performance. His streak now stood at 265:45.
"I've had some help along the way, but you need luck on your side too," Boucher said. "They hit some posts and guys have been blocking a lot of shots."
The Coyotes road trip continued in Minnesota on January 9 with a 2-0 win over the Wild. Boucher set two separate records that night. First, early in the third period he passed Durnan's scoreless mark of 309:21 and then completed his fifth consecutive shutout after a 21 save performance, which drew an appreciative cheer from the Minnesota fans when the game concluded.
"It's just been unbelievable. It's just a great ride we're on right now. I still haven't really stopped to think about it too much. I mean, I can't explain what's going on," said Boucher following the game.
During the game Richard Park shot a one-timer midway through the second period that ricocheted off Boucher's right leg after a perfect set-up pass by Sergei Zholtok. Replays showed Park turning around, wide-eyed in disbelief that his shot was denied.
"That's a goal 9.9 out of 10 times," Park said. "I got the shot off I wanted, but it's remarkable the swagger he's got in the net, the confidence."
"[The streak will] end at some point," Boucher said. "I'm not going into games thinking about shutouts. Winning is the most important thing."
The end came predictably on a fluky deflection 6:16 into the first period of the Coyotes next game against the Atlanta Thashers on this day in 2004 back at home in Glendale. Randy Robitaille's slap shot glanced off the chest of disappointed teammate David Tanabe.
"I don't think it would have hit the net if it didn't hit me," Tanabe said. "If it wasn't for that bounce, he could have had another shutout."
"A fluky goal," Boucher said. "That's how easily a goal can go in. The fact that it didn't happen for five-plus games is pretty amazing."
"I'm happy that it's over," Boucher said after the 1-1 tie. "It was a nice run, something that I'll never forget. But we're talking about one goal. I think it's good for the team that we don't have to answer questions about it anymore."
After the goal, the sold-out crowd gave Boucher a long standing ovation and the Phoenix bench emptied to congratulate him while the big screen showed highlights of the streak.
Boucher made 146 saves during the streak which stretched to 332:01 and included the record setting five consecutive shutouts.
Today's featured jersey is a Koho 2003-04 Phoenix Coyotes Brian Boucher jersey as worn during his record setting streak. This was the first season for the Coyotes new jerseys to coincide with their move into their new arena. They replaced their original jerseys worn since 1996 after relocating from Winnipeg.
These jerseys featured a bolder main logo with about half as many colors as the one it replaced. Unusually, the Coyotes went with single-color numbers, a modern rarity seldom seen in the NHL outside of the Detroit Red Wings and throwback jerseys such as the Maple Leafs retro alternate of the time.
The last team to use single color numbers on their home and away jerseys other than the tradtion-bound Red Wings were the Maple Leafs of 1996-97 and the Winnipeg Jets of 1995-96. The last time a team actually went from multiple color numbers down to single color numbers were the Jets when they introduced their last jersey set in 1990-91.
Today's video selection is a look at the Brian Boucher's scoreless streak.