By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
The single-season record for the most wins by a goaltender in NHL history currently stands at 48. It has been done twice, the first by Martin Brodeur in the 2006-2007 New Jersey Devils. More recently, Braden Holtby tied his record with the Washington Capitals in the 2015-2016 season.
This season, there has been so much talk about the Bruins’ chances of breaking single-season records as a team. Still, I have not seen a lot of discussion about the possibility of Linus Ullmark reaching an individual record. I saw a brief mention on Twitter about his save percentage numbers a while ago, but that is the extent. There may also be a good reason, as the record for most wins in a season is undoubtedly the most difficult for a modern goalie to reach.
The blueprint teams have been following in the last five years makes it challenging for a goalie to rack up a large number of wins. Rather than having a number one who can be a workhorse and play 60 games a season, teams are opting for a more efficient method. We have seen several teams switch to having two goalies closer in ability rather than a defined starter and backup. The two typically split time throughout the season, playing between 30 and 50 games.
With that being said, Ullmark has been so good this season that winning 48 games does not seem ridiculous. I crunched the numbers to see how possible it might be, and while he is not on pace for it right now, I do not think it is out of the question. So far this season, Ullmark has played in 35 of the Bruins’ 55 games. If he keeps that percentage down the homestretch, he will play in 52 or 53 games. For the sake of this article, I am going to round down to 52.
Of the 35 games he has played, he has won 28. That gives him an impressive 80% winning percentage. Now, finishing out our math, if he maintains his pace so that he finishes the season with an 80% winning percentage, he will win 41.6 games. Obviously, a goalie cannot win less than one game so I will round down again to 41.
For the sake of the experiment, what if he won 20 games in a row and hit 48 in the shortest possible amount of time? If that happened, he would end the season having played 55 games and winning 48 for an 87% winning percentage. However, that is not very realistic because the Bruins only have 27 games left to play. It does not seem likely that they would start Ullmark for 20 of those games, let alone that he would win all 20 even if they did start him. So, unfortunately, Bruins fans should not expect a single-season wins record to be set this season. As I said before, though, it is not entirely impossible yet.