blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: April 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Today In NHL History - Kirk McLean's Game 7 Save

On April 30th in 1994, Vancouver Canucks goalie Kirk McLean denied Calgary Flames forward Robert Reichel of an overtime open net opportunity in Game 7 of the 1994 playoffs' opening round, in what is now known in Canucks circles simply as 'The Save'.
The spectacular save set the stage for Pavel Bure's double overtime series winner, considered by many as the Greatest Moment in Canucks History, capping the Canucks improbable 3-1 series deficit comeback with three consecutive overtime wins against the Flames and igniting their Cinderella run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Highlights from this historic Canucks Game 7 can be viewed below.
That's today in NHL history.

* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.

Today In NHL History - Steve Smith's Own Goal

On April 30th in 1986, rookie defenseman Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers accidentally played the puck off of goalie Grant Fuhr and scored on his own goal, putting the Calgary Flames ahead 3-2 in the third period of Game 7 of the Battle of Alberta Smyth Division Finals.
Smith's 23rd birthday blooper held up as the winner and Calgary took the series 4-3. The Flames would eventually advance to the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Today In NHL History - Roger Neilson Surrenders

On April 29th in 1982, Vancouver Canucks head coach Roger Neilson surrendered to referee Bob Myers during Game 2 of the Campbell Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in protest of poor officiating.

Stymied by seemingly unjustified penalties, Tiger Williams suggested throwing all of the sticks on the ice. Coach Neilson replied, "No, I've done that before, let's surrender". And with that, a white towel was raised on the end of a stick for all to see and Towel Power was born.

Neilson was tossed and the Canucks lost the game 4-1. They went on to win the series against the Blackhawks by the same margin, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

Some 29 years later the Vancouver Canucks unveiled an 800 pound bronze sculpture by Norm Williams outside of the coincidentally named Rogers Arena, memorializing Neilson's historic stand that inspired a team and a tradition.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Battle of Alberta & NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

For the past four decades, the province of Alberta has hosted two NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers (emigrating from the WHL in 1979) and the Calgary Flames (relocating from Atlanta in 1980). Separated by a mere 175 miles, these two franchises have forged one of the most intense rivalries in the game, playing hundreds of regular season games and five playoff series against each other, in what's known throughout the league as the "Battle of Alberta". The Oilers have qualified for the postseason 21 times, skating in the Cup Final seven times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 2006) and winning the Stanley Cup five times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). The Flames have skated in the playoffs 22 times, cracking the Cup Final three times (1986, 1989, 2004) and hoisting once (1989).

To put the early years of these fierce provincial foes in perspective, both teams made the playoffs each year from their inauguration through 1991, with one of them skating in the Stanley Cup Final for eight consecutive years (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990) and winning it six times during that span, spilling oceans of blood en route.

There were dark times too. Edmonton missed the postseason 18 times (1993-1996, 2002, 2004, 2007-2016, 2018, 2019), including a NHL record 10 consecutive postseason absences (2007-2016). Calgary failed to qualify for the playoffs 15 times (1992, 1997-2003, 2010-2014, 2016, 2018). 

Both missed the same postseason eight times (2002, 2010-2014, 2016, 2018), including seven of the past nine playoffs. On the other hand, both qualified for the same postseason 13 times (1981-1991, 2006, 2017), though it's only happened twice in the past 26 seasons (2006, 2017).

In terms of head-to-head playoff matchups, the Alberta teams have locked horns five times (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991). Edmonton has won all but one such series (1986), owing to a spectacular Steve Smith own goal, with the winner reaching the Stanley Cup Final four times (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988) and hoisting twice (1984, 1988) after such affairs.

Regarding other NHL teams facing both Alberta squads in the same postseason, only the Winnipeg Jets (1985, 1987), Los Angeles Kings (1989, 1990) and Anaheim Ducks (2006, 2017) have done it. To date, only the 2017 Anaheim Ducks have won series against both Alberta teams in the same postseason. 

Interestingly, when both Alberta sides have played the same opponent in a postseason, the victor has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final every time (1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 2006) but once (2017), hoisting the Cup all but twice (2006, 2017).

The last time Edmonton and Calgary both qualified for the postseason was 2017.  Neither made it past the opening round, falling to San Jose and Anaheim, respectively.

For the sake of NHL fans everywhere, let's hope this playoff rivalry is sparked again soon.

Today In NHL History - Dale Hunter Hits Turgeon

On April 28th in 1993, Washington Capitals forward Dale Hunter delivered a late shoulder-separating hit on New York Islanders center Pierre Turgeon after the Lady Byng recipient converted Hunter's defensive-end turnover for the Isles 5th goal in Game 6 of the Patrick Division Semifinal.
Witnessing the foul firsthand at Nassau Coliseum, the newly appointed Commissioner Gary Bettman assessed a 21 game suspension costing Hunter $150,000, one-quarter of his $600,000 annual salary. New York beat Washington that night by a score of 5-3 to win the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses

Since the Stanley Cup was dedicated to NHL's top team in 1926, only five franchises (Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red WingsMontreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues) have qualified for consecutive Cup Finals and lost each time.  

Nine times the losing streak was limited to two years though twice a three year streak struck (Toronto 1938-1940, St. Louis 1968-1970).  The charts below describe these streaks by team and years, and vice versa.

Team                  Years
Toronto 1935-1936 (2), 1938-1939-1940 (3), 1959-1960 (2),
Detroit 1941-1942 (2), 1948-1949 (2), 1963-1964 (2)
Montreal 1951-1952 (2), 1954-1955 (2)
Boston 1957-1958 (2), 1977-1978 (2)
St. Louis 1968-1969-1970 (3)

Years                  Team
1935-1936 Toronto
1938-1940 Toronto
1941-1942 Detroit
1948-1949 Detroit
1951-1952 Montreal
1954-1955 Montreal
1957-1958 Boston
1959-1960 Toronto
1963-1964 Detroit
1968-1970 St. Louis 
1977-1978 Boston

In 2016, the Tampa Bay Lightning fell one game short of returning to the Stanley Cup Final for their second consecutive year.  Had they qualified and lost to their western conference counterpart, they would have become the sixth franchise on this inglorious list.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts

Every Stanley Cup winning season begins by qualifying for the postseason. Only 8 teams, however, take the second crucial step of winning a playoff series. For the remaining 23 teams, the playoff series win drought begins.

The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each of these 23 teams has gone without winning a series in the Stanley Cup playoffs, showing the last year they actually won a postseason series. Where no year appears, that team has NEVER won a playoff series.

Team       Seasons      Last Series Win
New Jersey
Los Angeles
New York^
Tampa Bay

* New York Islanders
^ New York Rangers

The Phoenix Coyotes hold the all-time series win drought record of 23 seasons going 14 seasons in Phoenix and 9 seasons in Winnipeg without a series win, a streak that was snapped in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The current leader is the Florida Panthers with 22 seasons separating them from a postseason series win. This postseason was special for the Columbus Blue Jackets who won the first playoff series of their 19 year existence sweeping the Presidents' Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Last year's postseason was special for the Winnipeg Jets (formerly Atlanta Thrashers), as they won their first ever playoff game on April 11, 2018 (6,767 days since their first game on October 2, 1999) as well as their first playoff series win, ending a 17 season drought on both counts.

Interestingly, all 7 Canadian teams (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg) find themselves on the list. Unfortunately for the hockey-crazed nation, their teams also rank high on the Stanley Cup Championship drought lists, with 26 years separating the country from its last Cup win (Montreal 1993).

Of the eight teams advancing to the second round of the 2019 Playoffs, two (Boston, San Jose) won at least one playoff series last year. None of the others (Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, New York Islanders, St. Louis) won a series in the 2018 Playoffs. In fact, four of them didn't even qualify for last year's playoff (Carolina, Dallas, New York Islanders, St. Louis).

Playoff berths are harder to come by every year. Make the most of each opportunity as parity promises your window will likely quickly close.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches

Since the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the NHL's best in 1926, only 10 times have the same two teams met in the Cup Final in consecutive years. Of those 10 meetings, the same team won both series 7 times and teams split 3 times. Put another way, the Cup champion has successfully defended its title in 7 of the 10 rematches (70%).

The chart below describes every consecutive Cup rematch by year.

Year       Matchup
1932   Toronto over New York*  
1933 New York* over Toronto  
1948 Toronto over Detroit
1949 Toronto over Detroit
1954 Detroit over Montreal
1955 Detroit over Montreal
1957 Montreal over Boston
1958 Montreal over Boston
1959 Montreal over Toronto
1960 Montreal over Toronto
1963 Toronto over Detroit
1964 Toronto over Detroit
1968 Montreal over St. Louis
1969 Montreal over St. Louis
1977 Montreal over Boston 
1978 Montreal over Boston   
1983 New York** over Edmonton     
1984 Edmonton over New York**
2008 Detroit over Pittsburgh
2009 Pittsburgh over Detroit

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders

Of the 9 teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins) to compete in Stanley Cup Final rematches, all but two (Boston, St. Louis) have won at least one championship during a rematch series. Never have the same two teams met in more than two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Though teams have enjoyed consecutive Stanley Cup wins (24 times) and suffered consecutive Stanley Cup losses (13 times) over the years, the rematch is a far rarer occurrence (10 times). 

With Washington and Vegas ousted in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, there will be no rematch of last year's finalists in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.

Today In NHL History - Carcillo Fights Talbot

On April 25th in 2009, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Maxime Talbot challenged Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Daniel Carcillo to a scrap down 3-0 in the second period of Game 6 of the Conference Quarterfinals.

Carcillo won the fight but Pittsburgh stole the momentum responding with five unanswered goals to win the game 5-3, clinch the series 4-2 and eventually hoist the Stanley Cup seven weeks later. Though some discredit the fight as a turning point, Talbot's silencing was golden.

On July 1, 2011, the Flyers parted ways with Carcillo and signed Talbot. Carcillo took a one year $750,000 deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Talbot earned a five year $8.75m deal with the Flyers.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Today In NHL History - Alan Eagleson

On April 24th in 1933, Robert Alan Eagleson was born in St. Catherines, Ontario. Once considered the most powerful man in hockey, Eagleson's reputation was destroyed and person imprisoned when his fraudulent ways towards his colleagues and clients were revealed.

Starting out as a player agent before pioneering the NHLPA and international tournaments among professionals (1972 Summit Series, 1976 Canada Cup), the NHL icon was enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame and appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1989 only to have both honors stripped nine years later upon cross border convictions.

The unraveling originated with articles penned by player agents Ritch Winter and Ron Salcer, and Eagle-Tribune sports editor Russ Conway. Allegations of embezzlement, colluding to repress player salaries, misrepresenting player negotiations, and skimming disability funds resulted in disbarment as a lawyer, U.S. courts taking his money ($700,000) and Canada's his freedom (18 month sentence of which he served six), as described in Conway's 'Game Misconduct'.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History

When two teams split the first six games of a best-of-seven playoff series, a 'winner take all' Game 7 is staged. Heroes are born and victors crowned in this high-stakes affair. Not surprisingly, Game 7s have produced some of the most memorable moments in NHL postseason history.
Once reserved solely for the Semifinal and Final rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the best-of-seven format was expanded to include the Quarterfinals in 1968 and Preliminary round in 1987. Of the 681 best-of-seven NHL playoff series played through 2018, 169 (25%) have resulted in a Game 7 with the home team holding a healthy 98-71 (58%) edge. The team that scores first has a 126-43 (75%) edge, including a 5-0 record in 2016. 40 of the 169 (24%) Game 7s have gone to overtime, with the home and road teams each winning 20 times (50%).

Of the 169 Game 7s, 28 times a team trailing their series 3-1 won Game 7 and 4 times a team down 3-0 in their series won Game 7.  The most Game 7s in single playoff season is seven (1994, 2011, 2014). Only three times has a postseason gone without (1970, 1973, 1977).

Over the past 31 postseasons since the 1987 expansion of all series to best-of-seven, a Game 7 has been played in 125 of the 465 series. Put another way, 28% or approximately every 1 in 3.6 playoff series have gone to seven games. The chart below describes Game 7s by year, noting the number and round in which a seventh game(s) occurred.

Year: Game 7s (Round)                   Year: Game 7s (Round) 
1987: 5 (1P, 3Q, F) 2002: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
1988: 3 (1P, 1Q, 1S) 2003: 6 (3P, 1Q, 1S, F)
1989: 3 (2P, 1Q) 2004: 5 (3P, 1S, F)
1990: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2006: 3 (1P, 1S, F)
1991: 4 (3P, 1Q) 2007: 1 (1P)
1992: 6 (6P) 2008: 3 (3P)
1993: 4 (1P, 2Q, 1S) 2009: 6 (2P, 3Q, F)
1994: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F) 2010: 4 (2P, 2Q)
1995: 4 (4P) 2011: 7 (4P, 1Q, 1S, F)
1996: 2 (1Q, 1S) 2012: 4 (3P, 1Q)
1997: 3 (3P) 2013: 5 (3P, 2Q)
1998: 1 (1Q) 2014: 7 (3P, 3Q, 1S)
1999: 3 (2P, 1S) 2015: 5 (2P, 1Q, 2S)
2000: 3 (1P, 2S) 2016: 5 (2P, 2Q, 1S)
2001: 4 (3Q, F) 2017: 3 (2Q, 1S)

2018: 3 (1P, 1Q, 1S)

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

Breaking it down by round, the most Game 7s over the past 31 seasons on a percentage basis have occurred in Semifinal (18/62 = 28%) and Quarterfinal (35/124 = 28%), followed by the Stanley Cup Final (8/31 = 26%) and Preliminary (67/248 = 27%) round. Interestingly, 6 of the past 17 Finals and 6 of the past 9 Semifinals have been decided by a seventh game. In sum, the likelihood of a Game 7 in a NHL playoff series since 1987 is 1 in 3.5 for the Semifinal and Quarterfinal with a slight decrease to roughly 1 in 3.65 for the Preliminary round and 1 in 3.75 for the Stanley Cup Final.

The charts below show the total number of Game 7s played by each NHL team along with their win/loss records, with all-time statistics on the lefthand side and data since 1987 on the righthand side.

NHL Game 7s All-Time                   NHL Game 7s Since 1987
Team: Series (Record)       Team: Series (Record)
Boston: 26 (14-12) Pittsburgh: 16 (10-6)
Detroit: 25 (14-11) Boston: 15 (9-6)
Montreal: 23 (14-9) New Jersey: 15 (7-8)
Toronto: 23 (12-11) Washington: 15 (4-11)
Pittsburgh: 17 (10-7) Detroit: 14 (7-7)
Philadelphia: 16 (9-7) Toronto: 12 (6-6)
St. Louis: 16 (8-8) New York*: 11 (9-2)
New York*: 15 (9-6) Philadelphia: 11 (6-5)
New Jersey: 15 (7-8) Montreal: 10 (7-3)
Washington: 15 (4-11) San Jose: 10 (6-4)
Chicago: 14 (7-7) Vancouver: 10 (6-4)
Calgary: 12 (5-7) Colorado: 10 (4-6)
Los Angeles: 11 (7-4) St. Louis: 10 (4-6)
Edmonton: 10 (6-4) Los Angeles: 8 (6-2)
San Jose: 10 (6-4) Chicago: 8 (5-3)
Vancouver: 10 (6-4) Anaheim: 9 (3-6)
Colorado: 10 (4-6) Edmonton: 8 (5-3)
Anaheim: 9 (3-6) Tampa Bay: 8 (5-3)
Tampa Bay: 8 (5-3) Calgary: 8 (2-6)
Minnesota^: 7 (3-4) Buffalo: 6 (1-5)
New York**: 7 (3-4) Ottawa: 6 (0-6)
Buffalo: 7 (1-6) Dallas: 5 (2-3)
Ottawa: 6 (0-6) New York**: 5 (2-3)
Dallas: 5 (2-3) Carolina: 4 (4-0)
Carolina: 4 (4-0) Minnesota^^: 3 (3-0)
Minnesota^^: 3 (3-0) Nashville: 3 (1-2)
Quebec: 3 (2-1) Phoenix: 3 (0-3)
Nashville: 3 (1-2) Florida: 2 (1-1)
Hartford: 3 (0-3) Hartford: 2 (0-2)
Florida: 2 (1-1) Minnesota^: 2 (0-2)
Phoenix: 2 (1-1) Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2)
Winnipeg~: 2 (0-2) Winnipeg+: 1 (1-0)
Winnipeg+: 1 (1-0) Quebec: 1 (0-1)
Oakland: 1 (0-1)

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders
^   Minnesota North Stars
^^ Minnesota Wild
~  Winnipeg Jets (1979-1996)
+  Winnipeg Jets (2011-Present)

Boston has skated in the most Game 7s (26) in NHL history with Boston, Detroit and Montreal winning the most (14). Over the past 31 seasons, however, Pittsburgh has played more Game 7s (16) than anyone else and winning the most (10). Carolina, Minnesota Wild and the Winnipeg Jets (2011-Present) have never lost a Game 7; Ottawa, Hartford, Phoenix, Winnipeg (1979-1996) and Oakland have never won a Game 7; and Columbus has never skated in one.

In terms of winning more than one Game 7 in a single postseason, 22 teams have done it twice with only two teams winning three best-of-seven series in a Game 7 in a single playoff (Boston 2011, Los Angeles 2014). The chart below lists all NHL teams that have ever won two or more Game 7s in a single postseason, indicating year and rounds in which they turned the trick.

NHL Game 7s Won Same Year
Year: Team (Round)
1950: Detroit (S, F)*
1964: Toronto (S, F)*
1968: St. Louis (Q, S)
1990: Chicago (P, Q)
1993: Toronto (P, Q)
1994: New York^ (S, F)*
2001: Colorado (Q, F)*
2002: Colorado (P, Q), Toronto (P, Q)
2003: New Jersey (S, F)*, Minnesota (P, Q)
2004: Tampa Bay (S, F)*
2006: Carolina (S, F)*
2009: Carolina (P, Q), PIT (Q, F)*
2010: Montreal (P, Q)
2011: Boston (P, S, F)*
2012: New York^ (P, Q)
2014: Los Angeles (P, Q, S)*
2015: Tampa Bay (P, S)
2016: St. Louis (P, Q)
2017: Pittsburgh (Q, S)*

* Stanley Cup Champion
^ New York Rangers

(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

The 2018 postseason featured three Game 7s, with the team that scores first going 2-1, home teams holding a 1-2 record, and none recovering from a 3-1 series deficit.
Game 7 ... kill or be killed.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0.
* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.

Today In NHL History - Ference Fingers Montreal

On April 21st in 2011, Boston Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference celebrated his first playoff goal in a decade, tying the game 2-2 in the opening period, with a one finger salute for the Montreal Canadiens fans at the Bell Center.
Afterwards, a straight-faced Ference assured anyone who would listen that the unpenalized gesture was inadvertent, noting that his glove "got caught up" as he was pumping his fist in the air.
The NHL didn't buy it either, electing to fine Ference $2,500, the maximum allowable amount under Rule 75.5(ii) for unsportsmanlike conduct, representing 1/900th of his $2.25m annual salary.

Fourteen months later Ference came clean admitting he intentionally flipped-off Habs fans and cowardly lied to cover his tracks:

"Accountability is lacking in our world. Just look at nuisance lawsuits, or the finger-pointing of politicians around the globe. I am guilty myself of trying to blame a middle-fingered celebration after a goal in Montreal on a glove malfunction. In round one of the playoffs between two of the fiercest rivals in our sport, I scored a tying goal in the enemys building, only to have my fist pump turn into a sign language that crosses all borders. Facing the media and a possible suspension after the fact proved to be too much for my self-accountability. Self-preservation is a powerful thing it is easier to place blame elsewhere and overlook your own responsibilities."

Boston went on to beat Montreal that night in overtime by a score of 5-4, knotting their first round best-of-seven series at 2-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Lidstrom Beats Cloutier

On April 21st in 2002, Norris winner Nicklas Lidstrom scored on Vancouver Canucks netminder Dan Cloutier from center ice in the final minute of the second period breaking a 1-1 tie in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals.

The goal marked a playoff turning point as the Detroit Red Wings won the game 3-1 and overcame a 2-0 series deficit to steal the series 4-2. 52 days later Detroit hoisted the Stanley Cup with Lidstrom taking the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success

The Presidents' Trophy is awarded annually to the team with the best NHL regular season record. Since its inaugural offering in 1986, it has been awarded 33 times to 17 different franchises. The recipient is guaranteed home ice advantage for all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Unfortunately for recipients, regular season success and home-ice advantage does not always translate in postseason success. The chart below shows each Presidents' Trophy winner by year and playoff result.

Year         Presidents' Trophy            Playoff Result
2019 Tampa Bay Lightning Lost Preliminary (Columbus)
2018 Nashville Predators Lost Quarterfinal (Winnipeg)
2017 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2016 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2015 New York Rangers Lost Semifinal (Tampa Bay)
2014 Boston Bruins Lost Quarterfinal (Montreal)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks Won Stanley Cup
2012 Vancouver Canucks Lost Preliminary (Los Angeles)
2011 Vancouver Canucks Lost Final (Boston)
2010 Washington Capitals Lost Preliminary (Montreal)
2009 San Jose Sharks Lost Preliminary (Anaheim)
2008 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2007 Buffalo Sabres Lost Semifinal (Ottawa)
2006 Detroit Red Wings Lost Preliminary (Edmonton)
2004 Detroit Red Wings Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)
2003 Ottawa Senators Lost Semifinal (New Jersey)
2002 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2001 Colorado Avalanche Won Stanley Cup
2000 St. Louis Blues Lost Preliminary (San Jose)
1999 Dallas Stars Won Stanley Cup
1998 Dallas Stars Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1997 Colorado Avalanche Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1996 Detroit Red Wings Lost Semifinal (Colorado)
1995 Detroit Red Wings Lost Final (New Jersey)
1994 New York Rangers Won Stanley Cup
1993 Pittsburgh Penguins Lost Quarterfinal (New York)*
1992 New York Rangers Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
1991 Chicago Blackhawks Lost Preliminary (Minnesota)^
1990 Boston Bruins Lost Final (Edmonton)
1989 Calgary Flames Won Stanley Cup
1988 Calgary Flames Lost Quarterfinal (Edmonton)
1987 Edmonton Oilers Won Stanley Cup
1986 Edmonton Oilers Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)

* New York Islanders
^ Minnesota North Stars

Of the 33 recipients through 2019, eleven (35%) qualified for the Final and eight (24%) won the Stanley Cup (1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013). Of the 20 others, seven (21%) were ousted in the Preliminary round (1991, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2019), nine (27%) were eliminated in the Quarterfinal (1986, 1988, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018), and six (18%) stalled in the Semifinal (1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2015).

Only once in the past seven seasons has a Presidents' Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup (Chicago 2013). In fact, four teams during the past eleven years saw their season end in the opening round (San Jose 2009, Washington 2010, Vancouver 2012, Tampa Bay 2019). Interesting, only three times in the prior 24 seasons did winners suffer such a fate (Chicago 1991, St. Louis 2000, Detroit 2006).

Earlier this week the Presidents' Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round.  Once again, the regular season's best fails to achieve Stanley Cup success.

* See also NHL Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions.

Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions

Since the inaugural offering of the Presidents' Trophy in 1986, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, its recipient has drawn the defending Stanley Cup champions eight times in the subsequent postseason. The chart below shows each meeting by year, matchup and outcome.

1988 Edmonton Oilersover Calgary Flames
4-0 (Q)
1992 Pittsburgh Penguinsover New York Rangers
4-2 (Q)
1998 Detroit Red Wingsover Dallas Stars 
4-2 (S)
2001 Colorado Avalanche over New Jersey Devils*
4-3 (F)
2002 Detroit Red Wings over Colorado Avalanche*
4-3 (S)
2011 Vancouver Canucks over Chicago Blackhawks*
4-3 (P)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks over Los Angeles Kings*
4-1 (S)
2017 Pittsburgh Penguinsover Washington Capitals 
4-3 (Q)

*  Defending Stanley Cup Champion
(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

In the first three postseason meetings between the regular season's best and defending league champs, the prior year's Stanley Cup champions won (1988, 1992, 1998) and went on to hoist consecutive Stanley Cups. The next four matchups saw the Presidents' Trophy winners oust the defending Cup champions (2001, 2002, 20112013) and win the Stanley Cup in every instance but one (Vancouver 2011).

The most recent clash occurred in the Quarterfinal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals., snapping the previous streak of Presidents' Trophy winners advancing.

This meeting marks the 10th playoff series between the clubs, with Pittsburgh holding a 9-1 advantage and a 3-0 record during the Crosby-Ovechkin era. It's also the first time that the top two regular season finishers have met in the playoffs since 2001 when Colorado met New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final.

The only opportunity for the 2019 Presidents' Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning to meet the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals would have been in the Conference Final. WIth both teams exiting in the opening round, against Columbus and Carolina respectively, we'll have to wait another year for such a matchup.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets. * See also NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success.

Today In NHL History - Good Friday Brawl

On April 20th in 1984, divisional rivals Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques engaged in a now famous fight known simply by its calendar namesake emanating from the perfect storm of NHL playoffs, politics and provincial pride.

The Good Friday Brawl fisticuffs ensued at the end of the second period of Game 6 of the Adams Division Finals and lasted for ten minutes before teams retreated to their respective dressing rooms. Upon surveying the damage to teammate Jean Hamel from a Louis Sleigher sucker punch, the Canadiens returned to settle the score in the final frame.

Montreal beat Quebec that night to seal the series by a margin of 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, April 19, 2019

NHL Playoff Sweeps Without Surrendering Lead

When a team wins the first four games of a playoff series they are said to have swept the series and their opponent. When the victor does so NEVER trailing in any of the four games, they have completed the rare feat of a PERFECT sweep.

Of the 681 best-of-seven NHL Stanley Cup playoff series played through 2018, 117 (17%) have resulted in a sweep.  Only 18 of those 681 series (2.6%), however, ended in a perfect sweep or annihilation.

The chart below describes every such perfect sweep (or annihilation, if you prefer), showing the playoff year, matchup and round of the rarity.

Year       Matchup Round
1946   Montreal over Chicago   Semifinal 
1952 Detroit over Montreal   Final
1954 Montreal over Boston Semifinal
1960 Montreal over Chicago Semifinal

Montreal over Toronto Final
1969 Boston over Toronto Quarterfinal

St. Louis over Philadelphia Quarterfinal
1977 Montreal over St. Louis Quarterfinal
1978 Montreal over Toronto  Semifinal
1979 New York* over Chicago Quarterfinal
1987 Detroit over Chicago  Preliminary
1989 Pittsburgh over New York**    Preliminary
1992 Chicago over Detroit  Quarterfinal
1995 Detroit over San Jose Quarterfinal
2000 Detroit over Los Angeles Preliminary
2009 Detroit over Columbus Preliminary
2013 Boston over Pittsburgh Semifinal
2015 Chicago over Minnesota Quarterfinal

*   New York Islanders
** New York Rangers

The Montreal Canadiens lead the league with six perfect sweeps and are the only team to do it twice in a single postseason. That happened in 1960 when Montreal annihilated both the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs en route to their fifth straight Stanley Cup championship. Chicago, on the other hand, owns the honor of being on the losing end of a perfect sweep four times, leading all teams in this category.

Breaking it down by round, the most annihilations have happened in the Quarterfinal (7), followed by the Semifinal (5), Preliminary (4) and Final (2).  The last team to be so swept in the Cup Final was the Toronto Maple Leafs 55 years ago, adding to their dreary postseason history.

Of the two sweeps thus far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Columbus over Tampa Bay, New York Islander over Pittsburgh), both victims managed to hold a goal lead at some point during a game of the series avoiding the distinction of making this historic list. Pittsburgh narrowly escaped this honor, leading their series for only 3 minutes and 41 seconds thanks to opening goals in games 2, 3 and 4 from Gudbranson, Wilson and Guentzal.
Beware of the brooms. But avoid annihilation at all costs.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Sweeps