A look at triple-doubles in the NBA since 1983-84

The 2017-18 NBA season was yet another year where triple-double milestones were set. In November, Lonzo Ball became the youngest player to ever record a triple-double, only to have it broken by Markelle Fultz on the last day of the season. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Ben Simmons finished with 12 triple doubles, the most by a rookie since Oscar Robertson.

Nikola Jokic recorded the fastest triple-double in history, doing so in only 14 minutes, 33 seconds.  Finally, Russell Westbrook became the first player to ever average a triple-double in two seasons.

A history of triple-doubles since 1983-84

With all the triple-doubles taking place over the last two seasons, I decided to take a historical look at how common they are. I started with the 1983-84 season, as that is the first year that Basketball-Reference.com’s database has full regular season game logs.

chart

As one can see, the last three seasons have been historical in terms of the number of triple-doubles produced around the NBA. Three of the four years that saw the most triple-doubles have happened during this time. A lot of this has to do with last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook, who has produced the three seasons with the most triple-doubles since 1983-84.

Here is a representation of the graph above so that the leader for each season can be seen.

Season Triple Doubles Triple Doubles Leader
2017-18 108 Russell Westbrook (25)
2016-17 117 Russell Westbrook (42)
2015-16 75 Russell Westbrook (18)
2014-15 46 Russell Westbrook (11)
2013-14 46 Lance Stephenson (5)
2012-13 42 Rajon Rondo (5)
2011-12* 18 Rajon Rondo (6)
2010-11 37 LeBron James (4)
2009-10 23 LeBron James (4)
2008-09 30 LeBron James (7)
2007-08 40 Jason Kidd (13)
2006-07 32 Jason Kidd (12)
2005-06 37 Jason Kidd (8)
2004-05 32 Jason Kidd (8)
2003-04 32 Jason Kidd (9)
2002-03 42 Kevin Garnett (6)
2001-02 29 Jason Kidd (8)
2000-01 45 Jason Kidd (7)
1999-00 38 Jason Kidd (5)
1998-99* 18 Jason Kidd (7)
1997-98 22 Grant Hill, Jason Kidd (4)
1996-97 50 Grant Hill (13)
1995-96 50 Grant Hill (10)
1994-95 28 Jason Kidd (4)
1993-94 36 David Robinson (5)
1992-93 43 Charles Barkley (6)
1991-92 25 Four tied at 2*
1990-91 42 Magic Johnson (13)
1989-90 61 Magic Johnson (11)
1988-89 78 Magic Johnson (17)
1987-88 53 Magic Johnson (12)
1986-87 62 Fat Lever (16)
1985-86 37 Larry Bird (10)
1984-85 50 Magic Johnson (14)
1983-84 32 Magic Johnson (11)

* 1991-92 Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson
* 1998-99 (50 games) and 2011-12 (66 games) were both shortened due to lockouts

Triple Double leaders.png

Rusell Westbrook still has a ways to go to catch Jason Kidd for the most total seasons leading the league in triple-doubles. However, in his four seasons, Westbrook has a total of 96 triple-doubles (avg. of 24 per season). In his 11 seasons, Kidd had a total of 85 triple-doubles (avg. of 7.72 per season), 11 less than Westbrook had produced in the last 4 years.

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Sources and Tools:

Featured Image: “Russell Westbrook” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pgl_finder.cgi (used to find triple-double numbers from 1983-84 until 1998-99)

http://www.espn.com/nba/statistics/player/_/stat/double-doubles/sort/tripleDouble/year/2000 (used to find triple-double numbers from 1999-00 until 2017-18)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_lockout

Charts and graphs made using Google Spreadsheets

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How often does the best NBA team win the championship?

The Houston Rockets have finished the 2017-18 NBA season with the best record in the NBA. So what does history say about how this affects their chances of taking home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this June? I took a look a few days ago to see how the top team fares in the NHL playoffs, so let’s do the same for the NBA.

In the last 71 seasons of NBA basketball, 78 teams have finished with the best record in a season. This accounts for teams tying to finish with the best record in a season, which took place in 1954-55, 1974-751980-811997-981998-992002-03 and 2011-12.

How often does the best team make and win the finals? 

Odds of making Finals 45/78 (57.69%)
Odds of winning Finals at start of playoffs 35/78 (44.87%)
Odds of winning Finals once in Finals 35/45 (77.77%)

Interestingly, enough there have been two occasions in NBA history where the two teams who finished in a tie for the best record met in the finals. In the 1955 NBA Finals, the Syracuse Nationals defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons 4-3. In the 1998 NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 4-2.

Besides the two aforementioned occasions above, there have only been eight other times when the team with the best record made the Finals and lost. This includes the Syracuse Nationals (1949-50), Boston Celtics (1957-58) and 1984-85), Milwaukee Bucks (1973-74), Washington Bullets (1974-75 and 1978-79), Phoenix Suns (1992-93) and Golden State Warriors (2015-16).

Decade Breakdown

A quick by decade breakdown of how often the best team made and won the NBA Finals. This also accounts for ties as the best team, hence why not every full decade is out of 10.

Decade Made Finals Won Finals
1940s (47-49 Finals) 0/3 (0%) 0/3 (0%)
1950s (50-59 Finals) 9/11 (81.81%) 7/11 (63.63%)
1960s (60-69 Finals) 7/10 (70%) 7/10 (70%)
1970s (70-79 Finals) 6/11 (54.54%) 3/11 (27.27%)
1980s (80-89 Finals) 8/11 (72.72%) 7/11 (63.63%)
1990s (90-99 Finals) 7/12 (58.33%) 5/12 (41.66%)
2000s (00-09 Finals 3/11 (27.27%) 3/11 (27.27%)
2010s (10-17 Finals) 5/9 (55.55%) 4/9 (44.44%)

How the best of the best have fared

What does this all mean for the Houston Rockets, who finished the 2017-18 season as the best team in the NBA? Finishing with a record of 65-17, the Rockets became only the 21st team in the history of the league to win at least that many games in a season.

Team:

Record:

Won Championship:

Golden State Warriors (2015-16)

73-9

No, lost in Finals (4-3)

Chicago Bulls (1995-96)

72-10

Yes

Los Angeles Lakers (1971-72)

69-13

Yes

Chicago Bulls (1996-97)

69-13

Yes

Philadelphia 76ers (1966-67)

68-13

Yes

Boston Celtics (1972-73)

68-14

No, lost in ECF (4-3)

Boston Celtics (1985-86)

67-15

Yes

Chicago Bulls (1991-92)

67-15

Yes

Los Angeles Lakers (1999-00)

67-15

Yes

Dallas Mavericks (2006-07)

67-15

No, lost in WC 1st Round (4-2)

Golden State Warriors (2014-15)

67-15

Yes

*San Antonio Spurs (2015-16)

67-15

No, lost in WC Semi-Finals (4-2)

Golden State Warriors (2016-17)

67-15

Yes

Milwaukee Bucks (1970-71)

66-16

Yes

Boston Celtics (2007-08)

66-16

Yes

Cleveland Cavaliers (2008-09)

66-16

No, lost in EC Semi-Finals (4-2)

Miami Heat (2012-13)

66-16

Yes

Philadelphia 76ers (1982-83)

65-17

Yes

Los Angeles Lakers (1986-87)

65-17

Yes

Los Angeles Lakers (2008-09)

65-17

Yes

Houston Rockets (2017-18)

65-17

TBD

 *Only team to win at least 66 games in a season and not have that year’s best record.

Out of the previous 20 teams to finish with at least 65 wins 16 (80%) of them reached the NBA Finals. 15 of those 16 teams (93.75%) who reached the Finals ended up winning, with the notable exception of the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors.

The Rockets aren’t fully guaranteed to make the Finals as the best team but history says that their outstanding 66-win season gives them an already greater chance than the average best team. It also shows that a team of their caliber should win the Finals if they made it, even more so then your typically best team, barring a historic collapse.

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Sources and Tools:

Featured Image: “James Harden” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/    (went through each season taking note of best team)

http://www.nba.com/history/nba-season-recaps/

http://www.landofbasketball.com/statistics/best_seasons.htm

Charts made using Google Spreadsheets

How NBA playoff teams historically perform based on seeding

With the 2017-18 NBA playoffs starting up soon, let’s take a look at how teams have historically performed in each round based on their seeding. Our starting point will be the 1983-84 season, as this was the first year that the NBA playoffs featured 16 teams.

NBA seeding results from 1984 to 2017 playoffs

Seeding 1st round 2nd round Conf Champ Finals
1 seeds 63-5 (92.64%) 58-5 (92.06%) 38-20 (61.51%) 23-15 (60.52%)
2 seeds 63-5 (92.64%) 37-26 (58.73%) 19-18 (51.35%) 6-13 (31.57%)
3 seeds 51-17 (75%) 27-24 (52.94%) 7-20 (25.92%) 4-3 (57.14%)
4 seeds 31-37 (45.58%) 5-26 (16.12%) 2-3 (40%) 0-2 (0%)
5 seeds 37-31 (54.41%) 4-33 (10.81%) 0-4 (0%) N/A
6 seeds 17-51 (25%) 3-14 (17.64%) 1-2 (33.33%) 1-0 (100%)
7 seeds 5-63 (7.35%) 1-4 (20%) 0-1 (0%) N/A
8 seeds 5-63 (7.35%) 1-4 (20%) 1-0 (100%) 0-1 (0%)

As one would imagine 1 seeds breeze through the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs and have historically domianted the finals. 5 seeds have historically had the advantage defeating four seeds.

Out of 34 Finals that have taken place since the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams, 1 seeds have won 23 of them. While 1 seeds have lost 15 finals, 11 of those have come against other one seeds. Since the expansion to 16 teams, only the 1993, 1995, 2001 and 2002 NBA Finals saw 1 seeds lose to non-1s.

Out of the last 34 Finals, only six of them have featured no top-seeded team. Oddly enough this happened four Finals in a row, from 2004 to 2007, while also happening in back-to-back Finals in 2011 and 2012.

Comparison across decades

For further comparison, let’s see how each seed does in the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs when comparing by decade since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams starting with the 1983-84 season. I left out the NBA Finals since the aforementioned amount of times that one-seeded teams play each other would skew any comparison.

1st round

In the 2010’s, 3 and 5 seeded teams have won more often than in the past. There have also been 2 wins by 8 seeds, compared to 3 in the previous decades combined.

2nd round

The second round of the NBA playoffs in the 2010s has so far seen a large jump in the amount of 2 and 4 seeded teams winning their games. However, not a single 6, 7 or 8 seed has advanced beyond this round in the decade.

Conf Champ

A 5 or 7 seed has never won a Conference Championship game. The only 6 seed to win in this round was the 1995 Houston Rockets, while the only 8 seed was the 1999 New York Knicks. The only 4 seeds to do so were the 2006 Dallas Mavericks and the 2010 Boston Celtics.

Last 5 seed to reach the conference championship: Memphis Grizzlies (2013)

Last 6 seed to reach the conference championship: Houston Rockets (1995)

Last 7 seed to reach the conference championship: Seattle SuperSonics (1987)

Last 8 seed to reach the conference championship: New York Knicks (1999)

Have there been fewer upsets since the first round format was changed? 

While we’re on the topic of seeding, has the NBA switch from a best-of-5 first round to a best-of-7 first round change the number of upsets that take place. The short answer is not really, as the number of 1, 2 and 3 seed that has lost in the first round isn’t noticeably different. Meanwhile, 4 and 5 seeds have split their matchups since the change.

First Round seeding 5 game 1st round (1984-2002) 7 game 1st round (03-17)
1 seeds 36-2 (94.73%) 27-3 (90%)
2 seeds 34-4 (89.47%) 29-1 (96.66%)
3 seeds 28-10 (73.68%) 23-7 (76.66%)
4 seeds 16-22 (42.10%) 15-15 (50%)
5 seeds 22-16 (57.89%) 15-15 (50%)
6 seeds 10-28 (26.31%) 7-23 (23.33%)
7 seeds 4-34 (10.52%) 1-29 (3.33%)
8 seeds 2-36 (5.26%) 3-27 (10%)

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Sources and notes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_NBA_Playoffs (went through noting victories by each seed up until the most recent playoffs in 2017)

Charts and graphs made using Google Spreadsheets

The Vegas Golden Knights are the best expansion team ever

The Vegas Golden Knights wrapped up their inaugural 2017-18 season last night, finishing a dominant year that no one saw coming from the expansion team. This was after they had already clinched the Pacific Division title about a week ago.

Vegas finished the year as the third-best team in the Western Conference and fifth best in the entire NHL. Historically speaking this season has made them the best expansion team of all time.

Golden Knights compared to other NHL expansion teams 

Starting with the 1967-68 season the NHL has seen 26 expansion teams, with all of them using the expansion draft. Historically, these teams have not been very good with the previous 25 teams prior to the Golden Knights failing to finish with a winning record.

However, the Golden Knights are not the first NHL expansion team to make the playoffs. Six of the previous 25 expansion clubs qualified for the postseason. In 1967, four expansion teams made the playoffs. However, that year 8/12 teams (66% of the league) made the playoffs.

In 1979,  two expansion teams made the playoffs in their first season. That year 16/21 teams (76% of the league) made the playoffs. For comparison, in the Golden Knights inaugural season, only 16/31 teams (51% of the league) made the playoffs.

Only the Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders, 8/16 teams (50% of the league), have had a lower chance of making the playoffs in their first season as an NHL expansion team when they joined in the 1972-73 season.

NHL team 1st Year # of teams (Playoff) Record Points PTS % Playoffs Result
Oakland Seals 1967 12 (8) 15-42-17 47 .318 No N/A
L.A. Kings 1967 12 (8) 31-33-10 72 .486 Yes Quaterfinals
Minnesota North Stars 1967 12 (8) 27-32-15 69 .466 Yes Semi-finals
Philadelphia Flyers 1967 12 (8) 31-32-11 73 .493 Yes Quaterfinals
Pittsburgh Penguins 1967 12 (8) 27-34-13 67 .453 No N/A
St. Louis Blues 1967 12 (8) 27-31-16 70 .473 Yes Cup Finals
Buffalo Sabers 1970 14 (8) 24-39-15 63 .404 No N/A
Vancouver Canucks 1970 14 (8) 24-46-8 56 .359 No N/A
Atlanta Flames 1972 16 (8) 12-60-6 30 .192 No N/A
New York Islanders 1972 16 (8) 25-38-15 65 .417 No N/A
Kansas City Scouts 1974 18 (12) 15-54-11 41 .256 No N/A
Washington Capitals 1974 18 (12) 8-67-5 21 .131 No N/A
Edmonton Oilers* 1979 21 (16) 28-39-13 69 .431 Yes Preliminary
Hartford Whalers* 1979 21 (16) 27-34-19 73 .456 Yes Preliminary
Quebec Nordiques* 1979 21 (16) 25-44-11 61 .381 No N/A
Winnipeg Jets * 1979 21 (16) 20-49-11 51 .319 No N/A
San Jose Sharks 1991 22 (16) 17-58-5 39 .244 No N/A
Ottawa Senators 1992 24 (16) 10-70-4 24 .143 No N/A
Tampa Bay Lightning 1992 24 (16) 23-54-7 53 .315 No N/A
Florida Panthers 1993 26 (16) 33-34-17 83 .494 No N/A
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 1993 26 (16) 33-46-5 71 .423 No N/A
Nashville Predators 1998 27 (16) 28-47-7 63 .384 No N/A
Atlanta Thrashers 1999 28 (16) 14-57-7-4 39 .238 No N/A
Columbus Blue Jackets 2000 30 (16) 28-39-9-6 71 .433 No N/A
Minnesota Wild 2000 30 (16) 25-39-13-5 68 .415 No N/A
Vegas Golden Knights 2017 31 (16) 51-24-7 109 .665 Yes TBD

*The 4 teams who entered the league in 1979 did hold expansion drafts despite coming over from the merger with the World Hockey Association (WHA). However, each of these teams was allowed to protect up to two goaltenders and two skaters. These were designated as “priority selections” in the Expansion Draft.

How the Golden Knights stack up to all expansion teams 

The Golden Knights are clearly the best NHL expansion team ever in teams of regular season success. However, how do they stack up when compared to every expansion team from the other the major sports, the NFL, NBA, and MLB, in addition to the NHL?

Team Sport (Year) Win % (Record) Make Playoffs
Vegas Golden Knights NHL (2017) (.665) 51-24-7 Yes
Florida Panthers NHL (1993) (.494) 33-34-17 No
Philadelphia Flyers NHL (1967) (.493) 31-32-11 Yes
L.A. Kings NHL (1967) (.486) 31-33-10 Yes
St. Louis Blues NHL (1967) (.473) 27-31-16 Yes
Minnesota North Stars NHL (1967) (.466) 27-32-15 Yes
Hartford Whalers* NHL (1979) (.456) 27-34-19 Yes
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL (1967) (.453) 27-34-13 No
Carolina Panthers NFL (1995) (.438) 7-9 No
Los Angeles Angels MLB (1961) (.435) 70-91 No
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL (2000) (.433) 28-39-9-6 No
Edmonton Oilers* NHL (1979) (.431) 28-39-13 Yes
Kansas City Royals MLB (1969) (.426) 69-93 No
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
NHL (1993) (.423) 33-46-5 No
New York Islanders NHL (1972) (.417) 25-38-15 No
Minnesota Wild NHL (2000) (.415) 25-39-13-5 No
Colorado Rockies MLB (1993) (.414) 67-95 No
Chicago Bulls NBA (1966) (.407) 33-48 Yes
Buffalo Sabers NHL (1970) (.404) 24-39-15 No
Arizona Diamondbacks MLB (1998) (.401) 65-97 No
Houston Colt .45s MLB (1962) (.400) 64-96 No
Seattle Pilots MLB (1969) (.395) 64-98 No
Seattle Mariners MLB (1977) (.395) 64-98 No
Florida Marlins MLB (1993) (.395) 64-98 No
Tampa Bay Devil Rays MLB (1998) (.389) 63-99 No
Nashville Predators NHL (1998) (.384) 28-47-7 No
Quebec Nordiques* NHL (1979) (.381) 25-44-11 No
Washington Senators MLB (1961) (.379) 61-100 No
Vancouver Canucks NHL (1970) (.359) 24-46-8 No
Portland Trail Blazers NBA (1970) (.354) 29-53 No
Toronto Blue Jays MLB (1977) (.335) 54-107 No
Milwaukee Bucks NBA (1968) (.329) 27-55 No
Montreal Expos MLB (1969) (.321) 52-110 No
San Diego Padres MLB (1969) (.321) 52-110 No
Winnipeg Jets * NHL (1979) (.319) 20-49-11 No
Oakland Seals NHL (1967) (.318) 15-42-17 No
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL (1992) (.315) 23-54-7 No
Seattle SuperSonics NBA (1967) (.280) 23-59 No
New Orleans Jazz NBA (1974) (.280) 23-59 No
Buffalo Braves NBA (1970) (.268) 22-60 No
Minnesota Timberwolves NBA (1989) (.268) 22-60 No
Toronto Raptors NBA (1995) (.256) 21-61 No
Kansas City Scouts NHL (1974) (.256) 15-54-11 No
New York Mets MLB (1962) (.250) 40-120 No
Jacksonville Jaguars NFL (1995) (.250) 4-12 No
Houston Texans NFL (2002) (.250) 4-12 No
Charlotte Hornets NBA (1988) (.244) 20-62 No
San Jose Sharks NHL (1991) (.244) 17-58-5 No
Atlanta Thrashers NHL (1999) (.238) 14-57-7-4 No
Chicago Packers NBA (1961) (.225) 18-62 No
Orlando Magic NBA (1989) (.220) 18-64 No
Charlotte Bobcats NBA (2004) (.220) 18-64 No
Minnesota Vikings NFL (1961) (.214) 3-11 No
Atlanta Falcons NFL (1966) (.214) 3-11 No
Phoenix Suns NBA (1968) (.195) 16-66 No
Atlanta Flames NHL (1972) (.192) 12-60-6 No
San Diego Rockets NBA (1967) (.183) 15-67 No
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA (1970) (.183) 15-67 No
Dallas Mavericks NBA (1980) (.183) 15-67 No
Miami Heat NBA (1988) (.183) 15-67 No
Vancouver Grizzlies NBA (1995) (.183) 15-67 No
Seattle Seahawks NFL (1976) (.143) 2-12 No
Ottawa Senators NHL (1992) (.143) 10-70-4 No
Washington Capitals NHL (1974) (.131) 8-67-5 No
Cleveland Browns NFL (1999) (.125) 2-14 No
New Orleans Saints NFL (1967) (.077) 1-12-1 No
Dallas Cowboys NFL (1960) (.000) 0-11-1 No
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL (1976) (.000) 0-14 No

Out of the 68 expansion teams across the four major North American sports, Vegas is the only one to have a winning record. Vegas is also only the eighth expansion team to make the playoffs, joining the aformentioned six other NHL teams and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA.

The Golden Knights are an outlier compared to other expansion teams

chart.png

Only the expansion St. Louis Blues have an argument

The Golden Knights are by far and away the best expansion team in the regular season from the four major North American sports. Only the St. Louis Blues have a real argument against them as the best expansion team.

The 1967 expansion Blues are one of only two expansion teams in the four major sports to win a playoff series. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in the Quater-Finals. Then they defeated a fellow expansion team, the Minnesota North Stars, 4-3 in the Semi-Finals. St. Louis then got swept in the Stanely Cup Finals by the Montreal Canadiens.

Unlike the 67-68 Blues, Vegas will have the play an extra playoff round, first facing the Los Angeles Kings. They would then take on the winner of Anaheim/San Jose to get to the Western Conference Finals.

However, even if Vegas were to lose in the first round their regular season was so dominant compared to any previous expansion team that it should secure them their spot as the best ever.

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Sources and Notes:

Featured Image: “Untitled” by Brandon Zeman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expansion_draft

https://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1968_standings.html (plus subsequent seasons with first-year expansion teams)

https://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_1962_standings.html (plus subsequent seasons with first-year expansion teams)

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1961-standings.shtml (plus subsequent seasons with first-year expansion teams)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1960/index.htm (plus subsequent seasons with first-year expansion teams)

Tables and chart make using Google Docs (Spreadsheets)

How often does the best NHL team win the Stanley Cup?

Yesterday, the Nashville Predators won their first Presidents’ Trophy, awarded for having the best record in the league. With the playoffs starting on April 11, what does history say about their chances of hoisting the Stanley Cup by merit of finishing with the best record in the league?

Since 1926, the Stanley Cup has been under the control of the NHL. That is when the Western Hockey League (WHL) folded, leading to the end of non-NHL teams vying for the Cup. That year will be the starting point when examining how often the best team wins the Stanley Cup.

While this article will examine the last 90 NHL seasons (not counting 2017-18), it will include 91 total teams. This is because the 1932-33 season saw a tie between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings for the league’s best record.

Making the Stanley Cup Finals 

First, let’s take a look at how often the team that finished the season with the best record makes the Stanley Cup finals.

Era Odds of making finals
Founding (1926-42) 8/17 (47.05%)
Original Six (1943-67) 16/25 (64%)
Expansion (1968-92) 17/25 (68%)
Modern (1993-2017) 8/24 (33.33%)
Total (1926-2017) 49/91 (53.84%)

The history of the NHL would suggest that Nashville odds’s of making the finals are slightly above 50/50. However, since the NHL’s modern era (starting with the 1993 playoffs) the best team in the league has struggled to make the finals as often as they once did.

Once in the best team tends to win

If we take a look at the odds of the team with the best record winning the Stanley Cup before the start of the playoffs, the numbers go lower. Starting with the 1993 playoffs, the team with the best record only has a 1/4 chance of winning the championship.

Era Odds of winning Finals at beginning of playoffs
Founding 6/17 (35.29%)
Original Six 14/25 (56%)
Expansion 14/25 (56%)
Modern 6/24 (25%)
Total 40/91 (43.95%)

However, these numbers improve drastically if the team with the best record makes the Stanley Cup Finals. Historically, the best team has won it all 40 out of the 49 times it has made the Finals. This number has also held steady over the history of the sport.

Era Odds of winning the Cup once in the finals
Founding 6/8 (75%)
Original Six 14/16 (87.5%)
Expansion 14/17 (82.35%)
Modern 6/8 (75%)
Total 40/49 (81.63%)

How does this all break down by team?

Here is a break down of the last 91 seasons (counting this year) of the NHL by which teams finish with the best record. It also shows if the team made and subsequently won the finals in the year they finished with the best record. Over this span, the Canadiens, Red Wings and Bruins have dominated the NHL in terms of finishing with the best record.

Team Finished with best record Made Finals Won Finals
Montreal Canadiens 21 15 14
Detroit Red Wings 18 10 8
Boston Bruins 14 7 4
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 3 2
Chicago Blackhawks 4 1 1
NY Rangers 4 1 1
Dallas Stars 3 2 2
Edmonton Oilers 3 2 2
Philadelphia Flyers 3 2 1
Washington Capitals 3 0 0
NY Islanders 2 2 2
Calgary Flames 2 1 1
Colorado Rockies 2 1 1
Vancouver Canucks 2 1 0
*Ottawa Senators 1 1 1
Buffalo Sabers 1 0 0
Ottawa Senators 1 0 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 1 0 0
San Jose 1 0 0
St. Louis Blues 1 0 0
Nashville Predators 1 TBD TBD

*This is the original version of the Ottawa Senators that played in the NHL from 1917-34

chart

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Sources and Notes:

https://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1927_standings.html

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/141.html

Tables and chart make using Google Docs (Spreadsheets)

Image source: [1930 Stanley Cup| Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain]