With a nod to good Friend of the Den, Joe Pelletier at www.greatesthockeylegends.com I am going to expand on his twitter trivia question of the day. Apparently he was stumped (so was I) by one of his readers who asked which player played the most playoff games during the 1980s. The answer is a somewhat surprising Bobby Smith with 143, barely beating Duane Sutter at 141 and John Tonelli at 140.
This of course got me asking who led each decade in playoff games. Pretty much every decade has leader that may not be expected.
Brian Rafalski played 154 games, twenty more than John Madden and Scott Niedermayer. Top Red Wing, Nik Lidstrom sits fifth with 133 playoff games. Perhaps even more unexpected is the fact that Patrik Elias led the decade in playoff scoring with 106 points (in 119 games).
Another defenseman leads this decade as Larry Murphy suited up for 139 playoff matches in the 90s. Second and third are Mike Keane and Claude Lemieux with 135 and 132. Top point getter in the 90s is Mario Lemieux with 136 in only 78 games.
The aformentioned Bobby Smith scored 134 points in his 143 games, 140 behind point leader Wayne Gretzky.
Not Guy Lafleur or Bobby Clarke, but Jacques Lemaire led with 118 games played. More surprisingly is the fact that he tied Lafleur with 120 points.
Dick Duff tops the 1960s in playoff games with 97 total, three more than Jean-Guy Talbot, and eight more than Ralph Backstrom. Jean Beliveau played 87 and Bobby Hull 76, each tied for the decade lead with 83 points.
Predictably, the Canadiens dominated the 1950s as Doug Harvey played 102 games and Bernie Geoffrion 98. The top five is rounded out by Bert Olmstead, Tom Johnson and Floyd Curry. Geoffrion easily led the 50s in points with 96, 23 more than teammate Dickie Moore.
Defenseman Black Jack Stewart played the most playoff games in the 40s with 66. He was followed closely by Sid Abel and Wally Stanowski. Three Hall of Famers led the decade in points with Toe Blake at 55, Rocket Richard 50 and Ted Kennedy 42.
Once again, a defenseman leads a decade in playoff games as Red Horner logged 58. Fellow Leafs Busher Jackson and Hap Day are next at 54 and 47. Another `Friend of the Den` Marty Barry led the 30s in playoff points as he did in regular season points, equaling Charlie Conacher with 33.
It would seem that Bobby Smith was the only offense-first player to lead a decade in playoff games played. All other decades were topped by rear-guards or defensive forwards. These types of players obviously had much desired skill sets that garnered and produced a multitude of playoff hockey.