October 27 - Connect Four (or Five?)

Where the Edmonton Oilers (Eventually) Get Low

Last night, Zane McIntyre made his first National Hockey League start last night (after coming in in relief of Malcolm Subban the night prior). There are a lot of great stories about McIntyre the goaltender, and he's really got an interesting personal story behind him. One thing that I chose to focus upon is that he was the fourth consecutive different starter for the 2016 Bruins, which doesn't happen often.

Or does it?

I decided to pull from my game logs all instances (within the same season) since the 1970-71 season where a National Hockey League team used four consecutive goaltender starters. Including the 2016 Bruins, I counted fifteen instances (most - but not all - associated with bad teams):

Detroit Red Wings 2/7/1976 to 2/14/1976 Doug Grant Terry Richardson Jim Rutherford Ed Giacomin
Colorado Rockies 2/14/1980 to 2/22/1980 Michel Plasse Bill Oleschuk Hardy Astrom Bill McKenzie
Quebec Nordiques 1/24/1981 to 1/31/1981 Ron Grahame Michel Dion Michel Plasse Dan Bouchard
Colorado Rockies 2/22/1981 to 2/28/1981 Al Smith Jari Kaarela Hardy Astrom Phil Myre
Minnesota North Stars 2/23/1985 to 3/1/1985 Don Beaupre Gilles Meloche Rollie Melanson Mike Sands
Toronto Maple Leafs 3/30/1985 to 4/6/1985 Ken Wregget Tim Bernhardt Rick St. Croix Allan Bester
Quebec Nordiques 3/3/1990 to 3/9/1990 Greg Millen Scott Gordon Ron Tugnutt Sergei Mylnikov
Tampa Bay Lightning 3/20/1993 to 3/25/1993 Wendell Young Pat Jablonski David Littman Jean-Claude Bergeron
Tampa Bay Lightning 3/24/2000 to 3/30/2000 Dan Cloutier Rich Parent Dieter Kochan Zac Bierk
Minnesota Wild 3/8/2001 to 3/14/2001 Zac Bierk Derek Gustafson Manny Fernandez Jamie McLennan
Nashville Predators 12/8/2005 to 12/15/2005 Tomas Vokoun Chris Mason Brian Finley Pekka Rinne
Minnesota Wild 2/2/2010 to 2/10/2010 Wade Dubielewicz Josh Harding Anton Khudobin Niklas Backstrom
New York Islanders 12/31/2010 to 1/8/2011 Dwayne Roloson Rick DiPietro Nathan Lawson Kevin Poulin
Boston Bruins 10/20/2016 to 10/26/2016 Tuukka Rask Anton Khudobin Malcolm Subban Zane McIntyre

If you click on the name of the team, that link will take you directly to their game-by-game goaltender log for the season (in case you'd like to explore further). I've found that doing these sorts of database gymnastics is also a good way to documentedly check my data - I did uncover one discrepancy that will resolve the next time I refresh the full database (if you look at the Tampa Bay 1999-2000 game logs, you'll see that I erroneously have both Kochan and Cloutier starting the Lightning's game of March 28th). So anyhow, there are a lot of bad teams on this list, aren't there? Interestingly enough, the Colorado Rockies appeared on this list in consecutive seasons, and three of the four goaltenders were different between the two years (the Colorado Rockies were consistently inconsistent in many regards).

The other interesting thing to note is that a team's goaltending situation has never been this muddled this early in the year - this is typically a mid-to-late season phenomenon. What does this mean for this edition of the Bruins?

How about five in five games?

If you're lining up the table above properly, you'll notice that I said that "four different starters in four games" has happened fifteen times in the National Hockey League since 1970-71, but that there are only fourteen rows in the table. Yes, I skipped one. This one:

DATEOPPONENTDECGFGAOTEddie MioJim CorsiDave DrydenRon LowDon CuttsBob Dupuis
03/04/1980at NY IslandersL46- (24:07, 9/12)L (35:53, 19/22)
03/05/1980at MontrealL45L (60:00, 24/29)
03/08/1980at PittsburghL45L (20:00, 6/7)- (40:00, 18/22)
03/09/1980at PhiladelphiaL35L (59:00, 31/35)
03/12/1980at QuebecW63W (60:00, 42/45)

Yes, that's the (NHL) expansion 1979-1980 Edmonton Oilers, who in five consecutive games between March 4th and March 12th started Eddie Mio, Jim Corsi, Don Cutts, Bob Dupuis, and Ron Low. Dave Dryden had retired earlier in the season, or else I'm sure they would have found a way to work him into the mix. Eventually, the club traded for Ron Low (on March 11th) and he carried the club all the way into the playoffs, playing all but 10:30 over the rest of the Oilers' campaign. Here's a link to the full game logs for that club:

1979-1980 Edmonton Oilers Game-by-Game Goaltending Log

This is, of course, the same Ron Low who not only had a long playing career in the league, and a long coaching career in the league, but had one of the best facial hair games in the league:

Anyhow, here's what I'm asking the Boston Bruins to do. Your next game is this Saturday, in Detroit. You have Dan Vladar and Matthew Ginn on the farm in Providence. Do the right thing.