blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Fewest & Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fewest & Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup

With the Los Angeles Kings completing a record-matching 26 game playoff culminating in being crowned 2014 Stanley Cup Champions, it's time to do some math and see how many games it typically takes winners to collect the requisite 16 wins en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.  

The chart below shows the number of playoff games needed to win the Stanley Cup since 1987, by year, team and number of games.

Year: Team (Games)              Year: Team (Games) 
1987: Edmonton Oilers (21) 2002: Detroit Red Wings (23)
1988: Edmonton Oilers (18) 2003: New Jersey Devils (23)
1989: Calgary Flames (22) 2004: Tampa Bay Lightning (23)
1990: Edmonton Oilers (22) 2006: Carolina Hurricanes (25)
1991: Pittsburgh Penguins (24) 2007: Anaheim Ducks (21)
1992: Pittsburgh Penguins (21) 2008: Detroit Red Wings (22)
1993: Montreal Canadiens (20) 2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (24)
1994: New York Rangers (23) 2010: Chicago Blackhawks (22)
1995: New Jersey Devils (20) 2011: Boston Bruins (25)
1996: Colorado Avalanche (22) 2012: Los Angeles Kings (20)
1997: Detroit Red Wings (20) 2013: Chicago Blackhawks (23)
1998: Detroit Red Wings (22) 2014: Los Angeles Kings (26)
1999: Dallas Stars (23)
2000: New Jersey Devils (23)
2001: Colorado Avalanche (23)        

Since the expansion of each playoff round to seven games in 1987, none have swept all four rounds to hoist the Cup in 16 games, nor have any skated in four Game 7s using all 28 possible games. The average number of games needed to win the Stanley Cup is 22, with the Edmonton Oilers (1988) playing the fewest games (18), and the Los Angeles Kings (2014) skating in the most (26).

Only twice before have teams skated in 26 playoff games in a single postseason (Philadelphia Flyers 1987, Calgary Flames 2004).  In both instances these teams lost to their favored foe in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton Oilers 1987, Tampa Bay Lighting 2004).
Fans prefer fewer games. Owners don't mind the additional revenue that accompanies a longer series. But whatever is needed will suffice.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

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