blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: June 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 102th season of operation (101st season of actual play), it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 102 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2017
82
30
1967-1968
74
12
2017-2018
82
31
1968-1970
76
12
2018-2019
82
31
1970-1972
78
14
2019-2020
82
31
1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 31 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 31 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,271 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation, embracing NHL expansion in Las Vegas (2017-2018) and Seattle (2021-2022) to achieve a 32 team league with division and conference balance.  

On the heels of 2013's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.  In short, fans' preference for fewer regular season games appears unlikely to be realized anytime soon.

* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

2019 NHL Individual Awards Winners

When it comes to the NHL Awards, a handful are earned on statistical achievement while the rest are won through votes cast by various organizations depending on the award. The chart below shows the award winners for the 2019 NHL season.

NHL Award              Winner 
Conn Smythe Trophy                              Ryan O'Reilly
Art Ross Trophy Nikita Kucherov
Maurice Richard Trophy Alex Ovechkin
Hart Trophy Nikita Kucherov
Ted Lindsay Award Nikita Kucherov
Selke Trophy Ryan O'Reilly
Norris Trophy Mark Giordano
Vezina Trophy Andrei Vasilevskiy
Jennings Trophy Robin Lehner/Thomas Greiss
Calder Trophy Elias Pettersson
Jack Adams Award Barry Trotz
GM of the Year Don Sweeney
Bill Masterton Trophy                        Robin Lehner
Lady Byng Trophy Aleksander Barkov
King Clancy Trophy Jason Zucker
Messier Award Wayne Simmonds

2019 NHL First All-Star Team honors went to Vasilevskiy (G), Burns (D), Giordano (D), McDavid (C), Kucherov (RW) and Ovechkin (LW). The 2019 NHL Second All-Star Team roster was Bishop (G), Carlson (D), Hedman (D), Crosby (C), Kane (RW) and Marchand (LW).  

The 2019 NHL All-Rookie Team was comprised of newcomers Jordan Binnington (G), Rasmus Dahlin (D), Miro Heiskanen (D), Anthony Cirelli (F), Elias Pettersson (F) and Brady Tkachuk (F).

* See also 2018 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2017 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2016 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2015 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2014 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2013 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2012 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2011 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2010 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2009 NHL Individual Awards Winners.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fewest & Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup

With the St. Louis Blues completing a 26 game playoff culminating in being crowned 2019 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) 2006: Carolina Hurricanes (25)
1988: Edmonton Oilers (18) 2007: Anaheim Ducks (21)
1989: Calgary Flames (22) 2008: Detroit Red Wings (22)
1990: Edmonton Oilers (22) 2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (24)
1991: Pittsburgh Penguins (24) 2010: Chicago Blackhawks (22)
1992: Pittsburgh Penguins (21) 2011: Boston Bruins (25)
1993: Montreal Canadiens (20) 2012: Los Angeles Kings (20)
1994: New York Rangers (23) 2013: Chicago Blackhawks (23)
1995: New Jersey Devils (20) 2014: Los Angeles Kings (26)
1996: Colorado Avalanche (22) 2015: Chicago Blackhawks (23)
1997: Detroit Red Wings (20) 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins (24)
1998: Detroit Red Wings (22) 2017: Pittsburgh Penguins (25)
1999: Dallas Stars (23) 2018: Washington Capitals (24)
2000: New Jersey Devils (23) 2019: St. Louis Blues (26)
2001: Colorado Avalanche (23)        
2002: Detroit Red Wings (23)
2003: New Jersey Devils (23)
2004: Tampa Bay Lightning (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) and St. Louis Blues (2019) skating in the most (26).

Three other times a team skated 26 playoff games in a single postseason (Philadelphia Flyers 1987, Calgary Flames 2004, Tampa Bay Lightning 2015).  In each instance, these teams lost to their favored foe in the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton Oilers 1987, Tampa Bay Lighting 2004, Chicago Blackhawks 2015).
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.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts

Last night the St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup with a Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins. The NHL's other 30 teams, however, extended their respective win-less droughts by another year.  The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of years each team has gone without winning a Stanley Cup, showing the last year they hoisted the hardware (if ever).

Team       Seasons           Last Cup Win
Toronto Maple Leafs 
51         
Buffalo Sabres
48         
Never
Vancouver Canucks
48         
Never
Philadelphia Flyers
43         
Phoenix Coyotes*
39         
Never
New York Islanders
35         
Calgary Flames
29         
Edmonton Oilers
28         
San Jose Sharks
27         
Never
Ottawa Senators
26         
Never
Montreal Canadiens
25         
Florida Panthers
25         
Never
New York Rangers
24         
Nashville Predators
20         
Never
Dallas Stars
19         
Winnipeg Jets**     
19         
Never
Minnesota Wild
18         
Never
Columbus Blue Jackets      
18         
Never
Colorado Avalanche
17         
New Jersey Devils
15         
Tampa Bay Lightning
14         
Carolina Hurricanes
13        
Anaheim Ducks
12        
Detroit Red Wings
11        
Boston Bruins
8        
Los Angeles Kings
5        
Chicago Blackhawks
4        
Pittsburgh Penguins
2        
Washington Capitals
1        
St. Louis Blues
0        
Average
21        

*   Includes record of Winnipeg Jets prior to relocation to Phoenix
** Includes record of Atlanta Thrashers prior to relocation to Winnipeg

The average drought rests at 22 seasons with longest being 51 seasons (Toronto Maple Leafs), four seasons shy of the all-time win-less streak of 54 seasons (New York Rangers 1940-1994). Not only has Toronto failed to win since the NHL expansion beyond its original six teams, they haven't reached the Stanley Cup Final during that span. In fact, they've yet to win a playoff series since the 2004 NHL lockout.

More intriguing than the length of each team's drought is the fact that 10 of the 31 current NHL teams (32%) have never won the Stanley Cup. In fact, 4 of the 31 teams (13%) have never skated in a Final in their franchise history (Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets).

In ten months the quest for the Stanley Cup continues for 16 of the 31 clubs that qualify for the postseason. Early Vegas odds favor the Lightning and Golden Knights (6 to 1) to capture their first Cup (8 to 1), followed by the Leafs, Bruins and Avalanche (10 to 1), with the Senators (500 to 1) pulling up the rear.

* 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.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days & Games

The 2019 NHL playoffs began on April 10 and ended on June 12, boasting 87 games in 64 days. During this time, the Stanley Cup winning St. Louis Blues skated in 26 games, for a total of 108 games (82 + 26) since the season began over eight months ago. 

St. Louis' extensive playoff run begs the question, how long does a typical NHL postseason last? The chart below describes each postseason since 1987 (when the NHL expanded each playoff round to seven games) by start date, end date and length (i.e., total days and games).

Year       Start Date / End Date    Days       Games      
1987       
April 8 - May 31     
54      
87     
1988       
April 6 - May 26     
51      
83     
1989       
April 5 - May 25     
51      
82     
1990       
April 5 - May 24     
50      
85     
1991       
April 3 - May 25     
53      
92     
1992       
April 18 - June 1     
45      
86     
1993       
April 18 - June 9     
53      
85     
1994       
April 16 - June 14     
60      
91     
1995
May 6 - June 24     
50      
80     
1996
April 16 - June 10     
56      
86     
1997
April 16 - June 7     
53      
82     
1998
April 22 - June 16     
56      
82     
1999
April 21 - June 19     
60      
86     
2000
April 12 - June 10     
60      
83     
2001     
April 11 - June 9     
60      
86     
2002
April 17 - June 13     
58      
90     
2003
April 9 - June 9     
62      
89     
2004
April 7 - June 7     
62      
90     
2006
April 21 - June 19     
60      
84     
2007
April 11 - June 6     
57      
81     
2008
April 9 - June 4     
57      
85     
2009
April 15 - June 12     
59      
87     
2010
April 14 - June 9     
57      
89     
2011
April 13 - June 15     
64      
89     
2012
April 11 - June 11     
62      
86     
2013
April 30 - June 24     
56      
86     
2014
April 16 - June 13     
59      
93     
2015
April 15 - June 15     
62      
89     
2016
April 13 - June 12     
61      
91     
2017
April 12 - June 11     
61      
87     
2018
April 11 - June 7     
58      
84     
2019
April 10 - June 12   
64      
87     
Avg
     
57      
86     

Since the NHL expanded all four rounds of the playoffs to a seven game series, the maximum number of playoff games that could possibly be played if all series went to a Game 7 is 105. Alternatively, the least possible number of playoff games if all 15 series resulted in a sweep is 60 games.

In terms of total games played in a postseason since 1987, the fewest is 80 games (1995).  Only four times has a playoff lasted more than 90 games (1991, 1994, 2014, 2016), the longest postseason being 93 games in 2014. The average playoff length during this span is 86 games.

Only once in the past 32 postseasons has a playoff lasted fewer than 50 days (45 days in 1992) and just seven times has it exceeded 60 days (2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017), the longest lasting 64 days (2011, 2019). The average playoff length during this span sits at 57 days.

With each team playing 82 regular season games for a total of 1,230 games, 2019 Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues skated in 108 games (82 + 26) during 253 days dating back to the opener on October 3, 2018, representing 69% of the days in a calendar year and leaving only 111 days off between the Stanley Cup winning game and opening night of the next regular season.

Players on the 15 teams that did not skate in the 2019 postseason will enjoy 178 days off between regular season games, an additional 9.5 weeks or 67 days over their Cup winning counterpart. For those suffering such a playoff drought, here's hoping that rest translates into success.

* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins

Since the Stanley Cup was dedicated to NHL's top team in 1926, only seven franchises (Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins) have successfully defended their title and won the Stanley Cup in consecutive years.

The record for consecutive Stanley Cup wins by the same club is five (Montreal 1956-1957-1958-1969-1960) with two teams managing four straight wins (Montreal 1976-1977-1978-1979, New York Islanders 1980-1981-1982-1983), one team duplicating three year streaks (Toronto 1947-1948-1949 & 1962-1963-1964), and four squads posting one or more pairs (Detroit 1936-1937 & 1954-1955 & 1997-1998, Philadelphia 1974-1975, Edmonton 1984-1985 & 1987-1988, Pittsburgh 1991-1992 & 2016-2017).

The charts below describe these streaks by team, years, and vice versa.

Team                  Years
Montreal 1930-1931 (2), 1956-1957-1958-1959-1960 (5),

1965-1966 (2), 1968-1969 (2), 1976-1977-1978-1979 (4)
Detroit 1936-1937 (2), 1954-1955 (2), 1997-1998 (2)
Toronto 1947-1948-1949 (3), 1962-1963-1964 (3)
Philadelphia 1974-1975 (2)
New York** 1980-1981-1982-1983 (4)
Edmonton 1984-1985 (2), 1987-1988 (2)
Pittsburgh 1991-1992 (2), 2016-2017 (2)

Years                  Team
1930-1931 Montreal
1936-1937 Detroit
1947-1949 Toronto
1954-1955 Detroit
1956-1960 Montreal
1962-1964 Toronto
1965-1966 Montreal
1968-1969 Montreal
1974-1975 Philadelphia
1976-1979 Montreal 
1980-1983 New York**   
1984-1985 Edmonton     
1987-1988 Edmonton
1991-1992 Pittsburgh
1997-1998 Detroit
2016-2017 Pittsburgh

** New York Islanders

Prior to Pittsburgh turning the trick in 2017, Detroit was the last team to appear in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals (2008, 2009) when they rematched against Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Detroit, they failed to defend their title. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, they spared themselves the shame of losing in consecutive Cup Finals.

The last team to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row was the New York Islanders, when they claimed it four times in the 1980s (1980-1983)
.

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

The IIHF Triple Gold Club

Of the over 15,000 World Championship participants seeking gold since 1930, 9,000 that have skated for the Stanley Cup since 1893, and 4,000 that have competed for Olympic Gold since 1920, only 29 players and one coach have won all three titles. These accomplished 30 are recognized with membership in hockey's most exclusive association, the IIHF's Triple Gold Club.

The club includes individuals from Canada (12), Sweden (9), Russia (7), and the Czech Republic (2), of which the majority are forwards (22) with remainder rounded out by defensemen (7) and one coach. No goalies have earned the honor. All members are listed below by date of admission.

Player                             Country            Date of Admission
Tomas Jonsson Sweden February 27, 1994
Mats Naslund Sweden February 27, 1994
Hakan Loob Sweden February 27, 1994
Valeri Kamensky Russia June 10, 1996
Alexei Gusarov Russia June 10, 1996
Peter Forsberg Sweden June 10, 1996
Viacheslav Fetisov Russia June 7, 1997
Igor Larianov Russia June 7, 1997
Alexander Mogilny Russia June 10, 2000
Vladimir Malakhov Russia June 10, 2000
Rob Blake Canada February 24, 2002
Joe Sakic Canada February 24, 2002
Brendan Shanahan Canada February 24, 2002
Scott Niedermayer Canada May 9, 2004
Jaromir Jagr Czech May 15, 2005
Jiri Slegr Czech May 15, 2005
Nicklas Lidstrom Sweden February 26, 2006
Fredrick Modin Sweden February 26, 2006
Chris Pronger Canada June 6, 2007
Niklas Kronwall Sweden June 4, 2008
Henrik Zetterberg Sweden June 4, 2008
Mikael Samuelsson Sweden June 4, 2008
Eric Staal Canada February 28, 2010
Jonathan Toews Canada June 9, 2010
Patrice Bergeron Canada June 15, 2011
Sidney Crosby Canada May 17, 2015
Corey Perry Canada May 22, 2016
Pavel Datsyuk Russia February 25, 2018
Jay Bouwmeester Canada June 12, 2019

Coach                             Country            Date of Admission
Mike Babcock Canada February 28, 2010

During a Triple Gold Club induction ceremony held at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Zetterberg described the challenges of the different championships and the camaraderie of his co-members.

Of the 30 Triple Gold Club cardholders, only three (Viacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Peter Forsberg) have completed a Triple Gold Club Double winning each of the requisite three championships twice.  

The next logical step in IIHF recognition is the creation of a Quadruple Gold Club adding World Junior Championship gold to the mix. To date, only 12 players (7 Canadian, 5 Russian) have achieved such status (Kamensky, Gusarov, Fetisov, Larianov, Mogilny, Sakic, Neidermayer, Pronger, Toews, Bergeron, Crosby, Perry) with Fetisov and Larionov being the sole pair to turn a Quadruple Gold Club Double, taking each title twice.

Jay Bouwmeester is the most recent inductee into the Triple Gold Club, punching his ticket with a Stanley Cup win with the St. Louis Blues (2019) to accompany his World Championship Gold (2003, 2004) and Olympic Gold (2014) with Team Canada.  

Sidney Crosby remains the only member to have captained all three qualifying teams.  Jonathan Toews is the youngest to complete the feat entering at 22 years and 41 days old.

* See also Olympic Gold And Stanley Cup In Same Year.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Conn Smythe Trophy - Stanley Cup Playoff MVP

Moments before each Stanley Cup crowning the Conn Smythe Trophy is bestowed upon the Hockey Writers' selection of the postseason's best. First presented to Jean Beliveau in 1965, the honor dedicated to the Leaf legend has been handed out 54 times to 47 different players.

Typically finding a Stanley Cup champion (48 times) who is Canadian (46 times), the trophy has only found six Stanley Cup Final losers (Roger Crozier, Glenn Hall, Reggie Leach, Ron Hextall, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Tim Thomas) and eight non-frostbacks (Brian Leetch, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Evgeni Malkin, Tim Thomas, Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin). That said, only 5 of the past 9 winners were Canadian (Justin Williams 2014, Duncan Keith 2015, Sidney Crosby 2016-2017, Ryan O'Reilly 2019) with the remaining four awarded to a Russian (Alexander Ovechkin 2018) and three Americans (Tim Thomas 2011, Jonathan Quick 2012, Patrick Kane 2013).

Positionally the award has been dominated by centers (19) and goalies (16), followed by defensemen (10), right wingers (6) and left siders (3). Only Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy has taken the trophy three times with the well-heeled five-some of Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Wayne GretzkyMario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby each taking it twice. Bernie Parent (1974, 1975), Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Sidney Crosby (2016, 2017) are the only to win it in consecutive seasons.

On June 12th of 2019, O'Reilly became the 46th Canadian, 19th center and first St. Louis Blue to earn the honor. Tim Thomas is the eldest recipient of the award at age 37 (2011), while Patrick Roy remains the youngest at age 20 (1986).

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Blue Jackets eliminated the Lightning in Game 4 on April 16, 2019.

The Islanders eliminated the Penguins in Game 4 on April 16, 2019.

The Avalanche eliminated the Flames in Game 5 on April 19, 2019.

The Blues eliminated the Jets in Game 6 on April 20, 2019. 

The Stars eliminated the Predators in Game 6 on April 22, 2019.

The Bruins eliminated the Leafs in Game 7 on April 23, 2019.

The Sharks eliminated the Golden Knights in Game 7 on April 23, 2019.

The Hurricanes eliminated the Capitals in Game 7 on April 24, 2019.

SECOND ROUND

The Hurricanes eliminated the Islanders in Game 4 on May 3, 2019.

The Bruins eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on May 6, 2019.

The Blues eliminated the Stars in Game 7 on May 7, 2019.

The Sharks eliminated the Avalanche in Game 7 on May 8, 2019.

THIRD ROUND

The Bruins eliminated the Hurricanes in Game 4 on May 16, 2019.

The Blues eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on May 21, 2019.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Blues eliminated the Bruins in Game 7 on June 12, 2019.

In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.