Today in hockey history, a playoff thrashing, one of the greatest teams of all time sets a new record, Gretzky, an incredible college performance, the greatest turnaround ever, and the worst turnaround ever.
April 2, 1969 – The Bruins set a playoff record by scoring six power play goals, including three from Phil Esposito, in a 10-0 shutout of the Leafs, which was their first playoff win in 10 years. It seems like just yesterday that the Bruins powerplay in the postseason was so inept that it set records; they didn’t score a single PP goal in their first-round matchup against the Habs but managed to win the series in seven games (and eventually, the Cup). Not to be outdone, also in that game, Toronto’s Forbes Kennedy set a playoff record of his own…for most penalties in one game, with eight (four minors, two majors, a misconduct, and a game misconduct).
April 2, 1977 – In a crushing 11-0 win over the whipping-boy Capitals, Montreal set a new NHL record for the most wins in a season with an impressive 59. They’d win one more to finish the season at 60-8-12, outscoring their opponents 387-171 – that’s an average of 2.7 goals per game! Oh they won the Cup, too, and are regarded as the greatest teams of all time. By the way, were you wondering whose record they broke? Their own. From the previous year.
April 2, 1980 – Edmonton rookie Wayne Gretzky became the first teenager to score 50 goals in a season, scoring his team’s only goal in a 1-1 tie with the North Stars. As a teenager.
April 2, 1993 – Maine Black Bears’ left winger Paul Kariya became the first freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker award as the NCAA player of the year. Kariya scored an incredible 100 points (25-75-100) in just 39 games. Maine won the Hockey East Championship as well as the NCAA Championship that year, with the team going 42-1-2. And he’d go on to tear it up in the NHL as well.
April 2, 1994 – The San Jose Sharks beat Vancouver 7-4 to give them their 77th point of the season (31-33-15). Which is average, but not for the Sharks of that time. The 77 points was a 53-point improvement from the previous season, the biggest turnaround ever. For those doing the math, yes, the 1992-93 Sharks had just 24 points (11-71-2). The 1993-94 Sharks made the playoffs as the eighth seed and upset the Red Wings in seven games in the first round, but lost to the Leafs in seven in the next round.
April 2, 2003 – In a reverse scenario as the previous fact, The Carolina Hurricanes, after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the previous season (lost in five games to Detroit), not only failed to make the playoffs, but finished last overall in the entire NHL (22-43-11-6). How’s that for a negative turnaround? They were the first team to do it since the 1925-26 Canadiens, which wasn’t that embarrassing because there were only like six teams. Amazingly, the Hurricanes would have a similar performance a few years later in 2007, missing the playoffs after winning the Cup the previous year (their opponents in the Finals, the Oilers, also failed to reach the playoffs).
Source: Hockey Hall of Fame