Every NHL team’s playoff record since the 1999-00 season

Which NHL teams have performed the best and which have underachieved in the playoffs so far this century? Starting with the 1999-00 season, this article will look at each team’s playoff history over the last 18 postseasons (2004-05 was a lockout year), using information gathered from Hockey Reference.com.

Every NHL team’s playoff record

Below is a table of showing every NHL team’s basic playoff information, sorted by the number of playoff appearances that each team has. It also shows each team’s overall playoff record and their series record.

Out of the 30 NHL teams (not counting Vegas since they have only played one season), 17 have made the playoffs at least 10 times. The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks are tied with the most appearances, having made it 16/18 times this century. At the bottom are the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets with only three appearances.

Team Playoff App Playoff Record Series Record
Detroit Red Wings 16 97-84 (53.6%) 18-14 (56.3%)
San Jose Sharks 16 94-90 (51.1%) 16-16 (50%)
Pittsburgh Penguins 14 112-87 (56.3%) 23-11 (67.6%)
Philadelphia Flyers 14 74-79 (48.4%) 12-14 (46.2%)
Washington Capitals 13 68-70 (49.3%) 10-12 (45.5%)
Ottawa Senators 13 64-65 (49.6%) 10-13 (43.5%)
Anaheim Ducks 12 85-62 (57.8%) 15-11 (57.7%)
New Jersey Devils 12 80-69 (53.7%) 16-10 (61.5%)
Boston Bruins 12 70-63 (52.6%) 11-11 (50%)
St. Louis Blues 12 47-59 (44.3%) 7-12 (36.8%)
New York Rangers 11 61-68 (47.3%) 11-11 (50%)
Nashville Predators 11 49-56 (46.7%) 7-11 (38.9%)
Vancouver Canucks 11 47-58 (43.2%) 7-11 (38.9%)
Montreal Canadiens 11 48-63 (44%) 8-11 (42.1%)
Chicago Blackhawks 10 77-56 (57.9%) 16-7 (69.6%)
Colorado Avalanche 10 62-55 (53%) 11-9 (55%)
Los Angeles Kings 10 56-53 (51.4%) 11-8 (57.9%)
Tampa Bay Lightning 9 71-56 (55.9%) 14-8 (63.6%)
Dallas Stars 9 48-51 (48.5%) 8-9 (47.1%)
Minnesota Wild 9 26-47 (35.6%) 4-9 (30.8%)
Toronto Maple Leafs 8 40-43 (48.2%) 5-8 (38.5%)
Calgary Flames 7 30-37 (44.8%) 4-7 (36.4%)
New York Islanders 7 16-30 (34.8%) 1-7 (12.5%)
Buffalo Sabres 6 33-32 (50.8%) 5-6 (45.5%)
Edmonton Oilers 5 27-27 (50%) 4-5 (44.4%)
Arizona Coyotes 5 14-23 (37.8%) 2-5 (28.6%)
Carolina Hurricanes 4 39-33 (54.2%) 9-3 (75%)
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 5-16 (23.8%) 0-4 (0%)
Winnipeg Jets 3 9-16 (36%) 2-3 (40%)
Florida Panthers 3 5-12 (29.4%) 0-3 (0%)
Vegas Golden Knights 1 13-7 (65%) 3-1 (75%)

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Best and worst performing playoff teams this century

Over the last 18 playoffs, the Anaheim Ducks have been the best team in terms of winning games at a clip of just under 60%. Technically, the Vegas Golden Knights are the best (65%) but they have only played one season so their numbers are skewed compared to all the other teams.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins have 112 wins (15 more than Detroit), along with the fourth best win percentage. This gives then more playoff wins in this timeframe than 18 NHL franchises have played total playoff games.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Florida Panthers (29.4%) and Columbus Blue Jackets (23.8%) are the only teams to win less than 30% of their playoff games. The table below lists the top six teams (plus Vegas) and the bottom six teams in terms of their playoff win percentage by game.

Team Playoff Record
Vegas Golden Knights 13-7 (65%)
Chicago Blackhawks 77-56 (57.9%)
Anaheim Ducks 85-62 (57.8%)
Pittsburgh Penguins 112-87 (56.3%)
Tampa Bay Lightning 71-56 (55.9%)
Carolina Hurricanes 39-33 (54.2%)
New Jersey Devils 80-69 (53.7%)
Arizona Coyotes 14-23 (37.8%)
Winnipeg Jets 9-16 (36%)
Minnesota Wild 26-47 (35.6%)
New York Islanders 16-30 (34.8%)
Florida Panthers 5-12 (29.4%)
Columbus Blue Jackets 5-16 (23.8%)

Every NHL team's playoff win percentage this century (2000-2018, by game not series)

In terms of winning playoff series, only six teams have won over 60% of the ones they have played in this century. At the top are the Golden Knights and Hurricanes, although they have both played at least 10 less playoff series than the other four top teams.

I also listed the bottom six teams as a counter to the top six. Panthers and Blue Jackets fans have gone through hard times as neither has won a playoff series this century, with Columbus having never one won one since their franchise’s first year was the 2000-01 season.

Vegas won more playoff series in their inaugural season than four NHL franchises have this century (Coyotes, Jets, Islanders, Panthers and Blue Jackets). This is on top of the fact that their 13 playoff wins are more than those same teams, besides the Islanders, have.

Team Series Record
Carolina Hurricanes 9-3 (75%)
Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 (75%)
Chicago Blackhawks 16-7 (69.6%)
Pittsburgh Penguins 23-11 (67.6%)
Tampa Bay Lightning 14-8 (63.6%)
New Jersey Devils 16-10 (61.5%)
Calgary Flames 4-7 (36.4%)
Minnesota Wild 4-9 (30.8%)
Arizona Coyotes 2-5 (28.6%)
New York Islanders 1-7 (12.5%)
Florida Panthers 0-3 (0%)
Columbus Blue Jackets 0-4 (0%)

Every NHL team's playoff win percentage this century (2000-2018 playoffs by series)

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Playoff sweeps so far this century

Out the 270 series to be played over these past 18 playoffs, there has been a total of 31 sweeps. The Anaheim Ducks have the most accounting for 5 (16.12%) of all sweeps. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins has the most sweeps (3) without having been swept.

The Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Islanders stand neither swept anyone or been swept yet in the playoffs this century. At the bottom, the Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators, and Winnipeg Jets have all been swept twice but never swept an opponent.

Team Swept Opp Got Swept
Anaheim Ducks 5 1
Detroit Red Wings 4 1
Boston Bruins 3 0
New Jersey Devils 2 0
Chicago Blackhawks 2 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 2 1
San Jose Sharks 2 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 2 1
Nashville Predators 1 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 1 0
Vegas Golden Knights 1 0
New York Rangers 1 1
Colorado Avalanche 1 2
Los Angeles Kings 1 2
Montreal Canadiens 1 2
St. Louis Blues 1 2
Vancouver Canucks 1 2
Buffalo Sabres 0 0
Edmonton Oilers 0 0
New York Islanders 0 0
Arizona Coyotes 0 1
Calgary Flames 0 1
Carolina Hurricanes 0 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 0 1
Dallas Stars 0 1
Florida Panthers 0 1
Philadelphia Flyers 0 1
Washington Capitals 0 1
Minnesota Wild 0 2
Ottawa Senators 0 2
Winnipeg Jets 0 2

Getting to each playoff round

The San Jose Sharks have the most 2nd round appearances with 11. The Pittsburgh Penguins have the most conference championship appearances with six.  They are also tied with the New Jersey Devils for the most Stanley Cup Final appearances with four.

The Carolina Hurricanes have made the most of their playoff appearances this century, having made it to the Finals twice despite only having made the playoffs four times. Every other team with at least two Finals appearances have made the playoffs nine or more times.

21/31 (67.74%) of the league has made it to the Finals this century, with the most recent Stanley Cup being contested between two newcomers in Washington and Vegas. All but three teams (Islanders, Panthers and Blue Jackets) have appeared in at least one conference championship.

Team Playoff App 2nd Round App Conf. Champ App Finals App
Pittsburgh Penguins 14 10 6 4
New Jersey Devils 12 6 4 4
Chicago Blackhawks 10 5 5 3
Detroit Red Wings 16 9 4 3
Anaheim Ducks 12 7 5 2
Tampa Bay Lightning 9 6 5 2
Los Angeles Kings 10 4 3 2
Carolina Hurricanes 4 3 3 2
Boston Bruins 12 6 2 2
San Jose Sharks 16 11 4 1
Philadelphia Flyers 14 7 4 1
New York Rangers 11 7 3 1
Colorado Avalanche 10 6 3 1
Ottawa Senators 13 6 3 1
Dallas Stars 9 5 2 1
Washington Capitals 13 7 1 1
Nashville Predators 11 5 1 1
Vancouver Canucks 11 5 1 1
Calgary Flames 7 2 1 1
Edmonton Oilers 5 2 1 1
Vegas Golden Knights 1 1 1 1
Montreal Canadiens 11 6 2 0
St. Louis Blues 12 5 2 0
Buffalo Sabres 6 3 2 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 8 4 1 0
Minnesota Wild 9 3 1 0
Arizona Coyotes 5 1 1 0
Winnipeg Jets 3 1 1 0
New York Islanders 7 1 0 0
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 0 0 0
Florida Panthers 3 0 0 0

The Stanley Cup Finals

The Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, Detriot Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings have dominated this century so far, winning 12/18 (66.66%) of all Stanley Cup Finals. 13 of the past 18 Finals have featured at least one of these teams, with the exceptions being 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2018.

The Western Conference has been controlled by the Blackhawks and Red Wings who have 6/18 (33.33%) of the conferences’ total Finals appearances. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference has been dominated by the Penguins and Devils, who have 8/18 (44.44%) of the total Finals appearances.

Team Finals App Finals W/L
Finals Game Record
Pittsburgh Penguins 4 3-1 14-11
New Jersey Devils 4 2-2 13-13
Chicago Blackhawks 3 3-0 12-6
Detroit Red Wings 3 2-1 11-7
Los Angeles Kings 2 2-0 8-3
Anaheim Ducks 2 1-1 7-5
Boston Bruins 2 1-1 6-7
Tampa Bay Lightning 2 1-1 6-7
Carolina Hurricanes 2 1-1 5-7
Washington Capitals 1 1-0 4-1
Colorado Avalanche 1 1-0 4-3
Calgary Flames 1 0-1 3-4
Edmonton Oilers 1 0-1 3-4
Vancouver Canucks 1 0-1 3-4
Dallas Stars 1 0-1 2-4
Nashville Predators 1 0-1 2-4
Philadelphia Flyers 1 0-1 2-4
San Jose Sharks 1 0-1 2-4
New York Rangers 1 0-1 1-4
Ottawa Senators 1 0-1 1-4
Vegas Golden Knights 1 0-1 1-4

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “Stanley Cup Playoffs” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/index.html#site_menu_link (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

 

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Looking back at the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Finals

Last night the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in a thrilling 4-3 game to clinch their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Following a decade of disappointment in the playoffs, Washington overcame all their old roadblocks on the way to winning the Cup.

The Capitals were down 2-0, having lost both games at home in the first-round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They then survived double overtime in game three as they would go on to win four-in-a-row. Washington then defeated the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in six. After losing seven consecutive playoff series to them the Capitals finally defeated their rivals.

Then they got in a 3-2 hole against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Capitals won game six and then overcame their awful game seven history to take the series. After dropping game one to Vegas, Washington then won the next four games to take the series. They also managed to avoid setting up speculation that this could be there biggest blown 3-1 lead of them all by clinching last night.

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The Capitals, Ovechkin and more

With their win in their Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals are no longer on the list of expansion teams in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to have been playing over 40 seasons without a championship.

*Span as of before last night’s game for all teams. Capitals would have been at 43 seasons if they would have lost the Stanley Cup Finals.

Sport Team Span
MLB Texas Rangers 57 seasons
NFL Atlanta Falcons 52 seasons
NFL Cincinnati Bengals 50 seasons
NHL St. Louis Blues 50 seasons
NBA Phoenix Suns 50 seasons
MLB Milwaukee Brewers 49 seasons
MLB San Deigo Padres 49 seasons
MLB Washington Nationals 49 seasons
NBA Los Angeles Clippers 48 seasons
NHL Buffalo Sabres 47 seasons
NHL Vancouver Canucks 47 seasons
NBA Utah Jazz 44 seasons
NHL Washington Capitals 42 seasons
NBA Denver Nuggets 42 seasons
NBA Indiana Pacers 42 seasons
NBA Brooklyn Nets 42 seasons
MLB Seattle Mariners 41 seasons

Alexander Ovechkin became only the second player (Sidney Crosby) in the last 20 seasons to score at least 15 goals in the playoffs. He also joined Wayne Gretzky as the oldest player to accomplish this. Overall, he is only the 16th player (21st occurrence) in NHL history to score at least 15 goals in the playoffs.

Player (Age) Team Year Games Played Goals Goals per game
Sidney Crosby (21) Penguins 2008-09 24 15 0.63
Alex Ovechkin (32) Capitals 2017-18 24 15 0.63
Wayne Gretzky (32) Kings 1992-92 24 15 0.63

Ovechkin also passed John Druce for the most goals scored by a Capitals player in a single playoff run. He is also only the second Russian to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy, joining Evgeni Malkin. Also, he is the first Russian Captain and only the fifth non-Canadian Captain to lead his team to win the Stanley Cup.

Of course, Ovechkin got plenty of help from his teammates, most notably from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby. With his 20 assists in these playoffs, Kuznetsov became only the 19th player (26th occurrence) to have at least that many in NHL history.

After not starting in the Capitals first two playoff games Holtby came in righted the ship. His biggest moment was when Washington faced elimination in games six and seven of the Lightning series. Holtby recorded shutouts in both games, his only shutouts of the season.

Other Capitals notes

Devante Smith-Pelly scored as many goals in the playoffs (7) as he did in the entire regular season.

Barry Trotz won his first Stanley Cup in his 19th season, the longest any NHL head coach has coached before winning it for the first time.

Jay Beagle became the first NHL player to win an ECHL, AHL and NHL Championship.

Lars Eller became the first player from Denmark to win the Stanley Cup.

Nathan Walker became the first Australian to win the Stanley Cup.
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The Golden Knights historic run ends

The Vegas Golden Knights when into their inaugural season projected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL by many pundits. Instead, they put together the best season ever by an expansion team in any of the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL).

This continued in the playoffs, where they went 12-3 in route to winning the Western Conference. After winning game one of the Finals, Vegas lost the next four games. It was the only time this season that they had lost four in a row.

Record Goals Scored (per game) Shots on goal per game Goals allowed (per game) Opponent shots against per game
Vegas first three rounds 12-3 43 (2.86) 31.53 27 (1.8) 33.66
Vegas in Cup Finals 1-4 14 (2.8) 31.2 20 (4) 27.2

What ultimately made the difference for the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals is that Marc-Andre Fleury’s performance nosedived. Add on to that some bad luck and they managed to have to lose four games in a row.

Record GAA Shots Against Saves Save % Shutouts
Fleury in first three rounds 12-3 1.68 33.66 31.86 0.947 4
Fleury in Cup Finals 1-4 4.09 27.2 23.2 0.853 0

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “Alex Ovechkin 2018-05-21” by Michael Miller is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NHL_franchise_post-season_droughts

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_franchise_post-season_droughts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NFL_franchise_post-season_droughts

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/VEG/2018_games.html

Fleury’s pre-Finals performance 

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/f/fleurma01/gamelog/2018

https://www.nhl.com/player/marc-andre-fleury-8470594?stats=splits-p-nhl&season=20172018

Tables made using Google Spreadsheet

Where preseason power rankings had the Stanley Cup Finalists

Last night, the Washington Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 to advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for only the second time in franchise history. They came back from a 3-2 series deficit in large part due to goalie Braden Holtby, who recorded back-to-back shutouts after having not had one all season.

Now, the Capitals will face the first-year Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. Ironically, the best expansion franchise in the history of the NHL will be facing off against the franchise that was the worst expansion team in hockey history.

Another interesting note to this historical final is that it will be the first time in over a decade that one of the championship series for the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) will be contested between two teams that have never won before.

Sport Teams Season Result
NHL Senators v. Ducks 2006-07 Ducks in 5
NBA Mavericks v. Heat 2005-06 Heat in 6
NFL* Titans v. Rams 1999-00 Rams 23-16
NFL Bengals v. 49ers 1981-82 49ers 26-21
MLB Royals v. Phillies 1980 Phillies in 6

*If only counting teams with no Super Bowls (not counting NFL Championships won)

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Preseason power rankings for Cup Finals from various sports sites

Now that the Stanley Cup Finals are set, let’s take a look at where the Capitals and Golden Knights were in the preseason power rankings of various sports sites compared to the other 29 NHL teams.

Site Prediction (Caps) Prediction (Golden Knights)
BuffaloNews.com 5 31
CBS Sports 12 30
ESPN 3 31
iSportsweb.com 3 31
NBC Sports 3 29
NHL.com 4 31
Puckprose.com 7 30
Sporting News 9 31
SportsNet 11 29
The Hockey Writers 5 31
The Globe and Mail 4 16
The Grueling Truth 8 28
TSN 5 31
USA Today 17 25
ZSN 6 22
 Average rank:  6.8 28.4

Out of the 15 sites, eight (53.33%) of them had the Capitals being a top five team at the start of the 2017-18 NHL season. In contrast, seven (46.66%) had the Golden Knights being the worst team in the league. Only three of them had Vegas not finishing as one of the four worst teams in the NHL (28th or worse).

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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Lord Stanley” by Dave O is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

All sources for site predictions link in the table above.

Tables made using Google Spreadsheet.

The Vegas Golden Knights are in rarefied air with a championship appearance in year one

The Las Vegas Golden Knights are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals after defeating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the series in five. Going into the 2017-18 season the first-year expansion team had long odds to make it to this point. In fact, many predictions had them being a bottom-feeding team before the start of the year.

With this historic playoff run nearing its culmination in one way or another, it begs the question. How many teams have made it to the championship game in their first season between the four major sports?

This will only count teams in their first season as a franchise and not as a new team. For example, the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup during their first season in the city but they were not a new franchise since they had previously been the Quebec Nordiques.

It will also not count the first year of a league. For example, the Akron Pros won the APFA (NFL) Championship in 1920. That was their first season as a franchise but also the league’s first ever season.

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Teams to make it in there 1st year in a new league

I went through every current and defunct team listed on the Sports Reference sites for football, baseball, basketball, and hockey to see which franchises made the championship game in there first ever season of existence.

The teams I went through were in the following leagues in each sport from the Sports Reference sites:

Hockey: NHL and WHA (World Hockey Association)

Football: NFL, AAFC (All-American Football Conference) and AFL (American Football Conference)

Basketball: NBA and ABA (American Basketball Association)

Baseball: MLB (NL and AL), NA (National Association), AA (American Association), UA (Union Association), PL (Players’ League), FL (Federal League)

Sport (League) Team Team formation Year Season record Playoff record Champ Result
Hockey (NHL) Toronto Arenas first season 1917-18 13-9 (.591%) 4-3 Won series 3-2
Basketball (BAA) Baltimore Bullets came from ABL 1947-48 28-20 (.583%) 9-3 Won series 4-2
Basketball (BAA) Minneapolis Lakers came from NBL 1948-49 44-16 (.733%) 8-2 Won series 4-2
Basketball (NBA) Syracuse Nationals came from NBL 1949-50 51-13 (.797%) 6-5 Lost series 4-2
Football (NFL) Cleveland Browns came from AAFC 1950 10-2 (.833%) 2-0 Won 30-28
Hockey (NHL) St. Louis Blues Expansion draft 1967-68 27-31-16 (.473%) 8-10 Lost series 4-0
Hockey (NHL) Vegas Golden Knights Expansion draft 2017-18 52-24-7 (.665%) 12-3 TBD

Notes on above chart

While the 1917-18 season was the NHL’s and Toronto’s first they did play the PHCA (Pacific Coast Hockey Association) champion Vancouver Millionaires for the Stanley Cup.

Despite teams coming from the ABL (American Basketball League) and the BAA (Basketball Association of America) merging with the NBL (National Basketball League), Pro Basketball Reference does not keep records from either the ABL or NBL on its site.

Baltimore did make the ABL Finals in their first season, losing the series 2-1. Meanwhile, the Lakers won the NBL Finals 3-1 in their first and only season in the league.

The Browns won all four AAFC Championships that were played before the league merged with the NFL.

When the NHL added six teams in the 1967 expansion, they put all of them in the East Division, meaning one was destined to make the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Sources and info:

Featured Image: “Zamboni Ice-resurfacing machine” by mark6mauno is licensed under CC BY-2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/index.html

Tables made using Google Spreadsheet

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]