Record: 550 shots on goal in a single season
Holder: Phil Esposito
Record In Perspective:
Esposito averaged an astonishing 7.05 shots/game back in 1970-71 en route to becoming the first player to hit the 70+ goals mark. 7 shot per game is incredibly impressive considering the Buffalo Sabres sometimes only get 10 in one game as a team. This 1970-71 Bruins team was simply dominating averaging over 5 goals/game and finished with a +192 goal differential. Based on those stats it should be no surprise that the Bruins finished the season with the top four scorers in the NHL led by Esposito. With Bobby Orr on defence this team would have been puck possession darlings and Esposito very well could have had a Corsi in the 70's with his shot total.
Closest Active Player:
Alex Ovechkin came very close in 2008-09 when he took 528 shots on goal for an average of 6.68 shots/game and had the highest number of shots on goal since Esposito's record in 1970-71. His 528 shots that season look like an anomaly when you consider his career season average is 370 and he hasn't had more than 386 shots on goal in a season since 2008-09. Despite leading the league in shots for 9 of his 10 NHL seasons, it will be a miracle for Ovechkin to crack 500 SOGs once more and challenge Esposito's record. But just like Ray Bourque's career shots on goal record - if anyone is going to break it, it's going to be Ovechkin.
Why It Won't Be Broken:
Sadly, we think Ovechkin's shot at this record has passed. He hasn't been able to tally the same number of shots on goal in the past 6 years and there is nobody else in the NHL that is showing any glimpses of hitting even 400 shots on goal in a season. Coaches and players are simply too smart to allow a player that many scoring chances. Esposito set the record in a different era in which there was simply more open ice and scoring chances galore. This record had stood for 43 years and should continue to stand unless Ovechkin starts taking shots as soon as he crosses centre ice.