As the regular season draws to a close and fans start to look ahead to the play-offs, we’ve taken a look at the achievements of the greatest players in the history of the NHL.
The name Wayne Gretzky is synonymous with ice hockey even among those with only a passing interest in the sport, and with good reason.
“The Great One” has registered more assists than any other player has points, with his career points total almost 1,000 clear of anyone else in history.
The top active points-scorer is Joe Thornton of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who ranks 14th in the all-time list but has already played more games than Gretzky did and, at 41, is in the twilight of his career.
If we look at points scored per game in our list of NHL greatest players, Gretzky again leads the way but by a narrower margin.
Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux – also regarded as one of the game’s all-time greats – came pretty close to matching his pace but an injury-plagued career means he has to settle for the eighth-highest points tally.
When we look at the highest-scoring individual seasons by a player, Gretzky’s dominance becomes even harder to ignore.
Nine of the 11 biggest seasonal points tallies – including the top four – are all Gretzky’s, with Lemieux accounting for the other two.
Although Gretzky tore up Gordie Howe’s points scoring records in the 80s and 90s, Howe’s appearance record stood until April this year, when San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau took to the ice for the 1,768th time.
Marleau and former teammate Thornton are the only two active players in the all-time top 10 for games played, but Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle is hot on the heels of another appearance-based record.
Yandle’s incredible streak of 917 consecutive appearances and counting means he is just 48 games short of surpassing Doug Jarvis’ all-time record. We could soon witness the first player to make 1,000 consecutive appearances in the NHL.
Between the sticks, there are two active goaltenders mixing it up with the all-time greats.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist find themselves fourth and sixth respectively for most all-time wins.
Fleury is more than 200 wins short of Martin Brodeur’s landmark of 691 but when it comes to win percentage, the Vegas shot-stopper comes out on top.
In terms of shutouts, Brodeur really underlines his dominance as one of only two goalies in NHL history to prevent the opposition from scoring on more than a hundred occasions.
Fleury’s total of 66 is the best of any active player but he is only just over halfway towards Brodeur’s 125.
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