It’s throwback Thursday and this week we take a look at former Arizona Coyotes goalie Brian Boucher. The former first round pick from Woonsocket, Rhode Island spent two and a half seasons protecting the net for the (then) Phoenix Coyotes.
Woonsocket is a small town, known for the CVS headquarters, former NHL defenseman Mathieu Schneider, Brian Boucher and former NHL first overall pick Bryan Berard.
Berard was taken number one overall in 1995, the same year Boucher was taken by the Philadelphia Flyers with pick 22.
Both players came from the Mount St. Charles hockey program.
Boucher spent the majority of his 13-year NHL career with the Flyers, doing three separate tours of duty in The City of Brotherly Love.
His career was highlighted by his time on the Phoenix Coyotes.
Boucher holds the holds the modern-day NHL records for most consecutive shutouts with five and the longest shutout streak at 332:01 minutes. They say that records are made to be broken, but I think that this record might stand the test of time. What makes this record even more special is that Boucher played for the Coyotes, a team that was not all that great.
The 2003-04 Phoenix Coyotes finished the season 22-36-18-6 good for 5th place in the Pacific Division, and missed the playoffs. The team’s leading scorer was Shane Doan with 27 goals, 41 assists, and 68 points in 79 games.
Tyson Nash was still on this team, as a player.
The 2003-04 season wasn’t one for the books for the Coyotes. Boucher’s numbers that season, sans the five shutouts, were not all that impressive either. He finished the year 10-19-10, with a 2.74 goals against average, a .906 save percentage, and 5 shutouts. Without the shutout streak, he won just five games.
Boucher’s shutouts during the streak came against the Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, and the Minnesota Wild. Look at those opponents and the team seemed to be possessed during that five game stretch.
Nobody wanted to let Boucher down.
The streak was eventually broken against the Atlanta Thrashers on a fluky goal by Randy Robitaille.
Robitaille’s shot bounced off of a Phoenix defenseman’s chest and into the net. A crazy ending to one of the best records in NHL history. This was certainly the highlight of the 2003-04 season for Phoenix as the team managed to go 6-24-6 the remainder of the way.
So will this record ever be broken? Since setting the record, three goalies have sniffed the streak, with consecutive shutout minutes. During the 2008-09 season Robert Luongo recorded three consecutive shutouts, and a streak of 242:36 minutes. In 2016 Martin Jones posted a streak of 234:33 minutes, including two shutouts. In 2017 Ben Bishop recorded three consecutive shutouts and a streak of 233 minutes.
Outside of these three players, nobody has come close to Boucher’s streak. These three weren’t really that close either.
The game has changed since 2003-04. The rules have changed to increase scoring, goalie’s equipment has gotten smaller, and the players are in the best physical shape that the league has ever seen.
Scoring is going back up. Fans love goals. Nobody wants to watch the “neutral zone trap” or “dead puck” hockey. The league made changes to increase scoring. Not that players like Ovechkin, Stamkos, or Kaprizov need help from the league.
There are elite goalies in the NHL today, we may never see this record ever broken. If it ever is, remember the team that Boucher played for, then remember how incredible his accomplishment is.
Brian Boucher had a decent NHL career, highlighted by his short time in Phoenix. He is in the record books. The next time you watch an NHL game and you see Boucher, think of him as a Coyote.