In most sports, figuring out the best records is easy. Hockey is different. For one thing, ties were a regular occurrence before the 2004-05 lockout which can shift things up and also, the rankings aren’t so much win-loss as are points, which factor into things. Thus, to figure out a team's best season requires a bit of number crunching and that can also be an issue depending on the factors you use to figure out the math. There’s also how you have to make allowances for the fact modern hockey has more games than past decades yet some teams can still shine no matter what. Between that and the fact some seasons can be shorter than others, it’s trickier than you’d think figuring the best seasons for each team.
It is intriguing how some of these are not years where the team wins the Stanley Cup and in fact, many times, it’s a team with the lower record who ends up hoisting it. Some of these are championship teams, finished high in the standings and some are even part of dynasties. Others are teams that seemed to be going great but failed to win it all in the end. And others are unique, just a great team, but somehow did not have the right components to get far in the playoffs. Some are teams packed with the greatest and most famous players while others are teams with guys most forget. In any case, here are the best of the regular season records for each NHL franchise. It's worth mentioning once more that some are high on points but when you chart the winning percentage, the results may be surprising. If nothing else, see how your favorite team ranks among these and how a great regular season can offset a poor playoff run.
30 2013-14 Anaheim Ducks: 54-20-8, 116 points, .659
Overcoming doubts over being a team inspired by a Disney movie, the Ducks have managed to gain a good following and earn a Stanley Cup along the way. Going in, Teemu Selanne, a mainstay of the team for 15 seasons, had announced his intent to retire and he seemed ready to go out in style. The Ducks had a great record, their best ever, ending up first in the Western Conference and second in the NHL after the Bruins.
However, after beating the Stars in six games, the Ducks fell to the Kings in the second round. It's a shame the best regular season in the franchise's history couldn’t end with Selanne holding another Cup, but it still proves how far the Ducks have come as a team.
29 2009-10 Arizona (Phoenix) Coyotes: 50-25-7, 107 points, .652
Not many choices for good seasons for the Coyotes, a franchise that actually had to file for bankruptcy to try and keep them in business. That’s proven by how their best regular season was not exactly a stellar season in terms of players or attendance. Inexplicably, the team managed to pull off 50 wins, as first year coach Dave Tippett proved to be a wizard coming in following the disastrous coaching tenure of Wayne Gretzky. As was often the case in the franchise's best years, their playoff run was lackluster, losing in the first round to the Red Wings.
28 1929-30 Boston Bruins: 38-5-1, 77 points, .875
The Bruins have seen slews of Stanley Cup wins over the years and great success in various battles. Yet, it remains remarkable that all the way back in 1929, they boasted a team whose winning percentage remains the highest in all NHL history. This was the season where rule changes brought about the offside rule in hopes of further scoring and the Bruins would take advantage of that, winning a then-record 14 straight games and dominating opponents.
They seemed poised to add the Cup to their accolades but instead were stunned by the Canadiens, losing both games (Finals were best-of-three back then) and seeing the best team of the year swept, caused the league to add more games to the Finals.
27 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres: 49-16-15, 113 points, .706
After a disappointing 1973-74 season, the Sabres came out looking to get back into contention and succeeded, despite the tragic death of captain Tim Horton in a car accident. In the first game of the season, rookie Danny Gare scored a goal just 18 seconds into his career to lead to a win over the Bruins. The team soon had some good road winning streaks and finished up the year on top of the Adams Division. Don Luce won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy while half the team ended up in the All-Star Game.
They made their way to the Cup finals against the Flyers which included the infamous “Fog Game” and ended up losing that series 4-2. Despite that, fans in Buffalo were happy with this year, as close to the Cup as they’ve ever come and still remembered as a great team.
26 1988-89 Calgary Flames: 54-17-9, 117 Points, .731
For Flames fans, this is the dream season. It featured the debut of Theoren Fleury, who would become the best scorer in Calgary history and Sergei Pryakhin, the first Soviet player allowed in the NHL. While hard-hitting, they also had class as Joe Mullen won the award for gentlemanly conduct and Lanny McDonald scored his 1000th point and 500th goal. The Flames ran over the rest of the Smythe Division, ending up 26 points ahead of the Kings.
After a rough first round against the Canucks, Calgary skated over the Kings and the Blackhawks, going on to defeat Montreal in the Finals to win the Stanley Cup. It was a great capper to McDonald’s career as he retired afterward and while Calgary hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since, this season had them burning through the rest of the NHL with style.
25 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes: 52-22-8, 112 points, .683
The high water mark for the franchise, Carolina amassed a terrific record, including a terrific home record, aided by the great play of Eric Staal, Cory Stillman and Justin Williams while Cam Ward handled the goaltending wonderfully. They ended up just one point behind the Senators in the Eastern Conference going into the playoffs, with attendance increasing massively as fans realized they had something special.
It ended before a sold out PNC Arena as the Hurricanes defeated the Oilers to lift the Cup, the first major championship for a North Carolina team and while they failed to match that success later, this season at least had Carolina blowing through the NHL in a fun way.
24 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks: 36-7-5, 77 points, .802
In terms of wins and points, the 2009-10 Blackhawks team is tops, 52 wins and 112 points en route to winning the Stanley Cup. But in winning percentage, this season is much bigger. After a lockout cut the season short, many believed the NHL would take a while to win back fans. But interest came back majorly when the Blackhawks went on a stunning run, winning the first 21 of 24 games and earning at least one point in 26, fans flocking to watch this phenemon. It elevated them big time into a powerhouse, the ingredients coming together to sweep the Wild, take out the Red Wings in seven and the Kings in five.
The Finals against the Bruins came down to the famed Game 6 as the Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds for a fantastic comeback win for another Cup. It may be a shorter season but the Blackhawks’ dominance was undeniable.
23 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche: 52-16-10-4, 118 points, .720
After making history by winning the Stanley Cup in their very first season in Denver, the Avalanche remained in contention but kept falling short of the finals. In 2000-01, things came back together again for the team, Joe Sakic going on a stunning run with 118 points and winning the Hart Memorial Trophy while Patrick Roy continued to dominate as arguably the best goalie of the time, honored with a special night to mark his 450th career victory.
Coach Bob Hartley kept them going well as they cruised to a dominant regular season en route to finally getting another Cup over the Devils with Roy winning the Conn Smythe trophy. A great year to showcase a golden opening period for Colorado and how this Avalanche could not be stopped. This was also a touching season for all hockey fans as the legendary Ray Bourque got to end his hall of fame career with a Stanley Cup.
22 2012-13 Columbus Blue Jackets: 24-17-7, 55 points, .573
The lack of success for the Blue Jackets can be shown in how their best season was the one cut short by the lockout. It kicked off with general manager Scott Howson finally fired after years of bad decisions that kept Columbus in the cellar. Jarmo Kekalainen was hired and started some turnaround with better players and the team turning around from losing in their first two months to winning in the last half of the season. It wasn’t enough to make the playoffs, however, showcasing how the Blue Jackets continue to make things sad for their fans no matter how many games they play.
21 1998-99 Dallas Stars: 51-19-12, 114 points, .695
It’s a bit of a shame that a great season has been boiled down to one of the most controversial calls in Stanley Cup history. After spending five years with growing pains, the Stars had come close to the Finals the previous year before losing and were now on a quest to get the Cup. To do that, they pulled off a deal that signed on one of the league’s top scorers, Brett Hull who was eager to prove himself after a falling out with Blues management. He certainly did as his great play sparked Dallas to a fantastic season, the most points in their history thanks to Hull and Mike Modano’s high scoring.
Pushing through the playoffs, the Stars faced the Sabres in the Finals, coming down to Hull scoring a goal in overtime despite replays showing his skate was in the crease. It stood, a point of contention to this day with Sabres fans but Dallas fans are more than happy to remember this as the Stanley Cup championship season.
20 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings: 62-13-7, 131 points, .799
In terms of wins, this Red Wings team remains the most dominant in all NHL history and are second in the most points ever. Indeed, their record was better than any NBA team of that year and included two nine-game winning streaks and a 13-game winning streak as well. They dealt the Canadiens their worst home loss in Montreal history, allowed the fewest goals and had the honor of beating the Jets in their final playoff run.
The only thing more amazing than their regular season dominance is the fact the team couldn’t top it off with a Cup. Instead, they were shockingly upset in six games by the Colorado Avalanche, who would end up winning the Cup. Thus, this remains one of the greatest teams who couldn’t cap it off with a championship and a sad end to an otherwise great year in Detroit.
19 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers: 57-18-5, 119 points, .744
It should be no surprise the Oilers’ best year comes from the Wayne Gretzky era. Having already set himself up as a future star, Gretzky took the steps to transform himself into a legend, scoring at least a point in the first 51 games and ending up with a total of 205, the Oilers winning the first 39 of 53 games. They had a bit of a slump with Gretzky out with an injury but got back on track as soon as he returned.
While the Flames pushed them to seven games, Edmonton swept the Jets and the North Stars and then ended the Islanders four-year Finals dominance in five games to win their first Cup. It was the beginning of a new dynasty and the kick-off to Gretzky becoming “The Great One,” making this one of the most important winning teams in the history of the league.
18 2015-16 Florida Panthers: 47-26, 103 points, .628
Another case of a team whose record has been so rough that even their best season isn’t anything notable. The Panthers had a good start as an expansion team, reaching the Finals in only their third season before losing to Colorado. They sunk badly after that, often at the bottom of their division but this past year saw some surprising success. With a new attitude, the Panthers set off on their best regular season year yet with the most wins in franchise history, including a 12 game winning streak.
It came to an end losing to the Islanders in six games in the first round of the playoffs but many in Florida are hoping this is a sign the Panthers might turn it around to add more winning years to their record.
17 1974-75 Los Angeles Kings: 42-17-21, 105 points, .656
This might be a surprise as most would assume the Kings’ best season was from Gretzky’s time or winning the Cup in 2014. Instead, way back in 1974-75, the Kings amassed their best record, going 24-2 to start the season off, surprising many who thought the Canadiens would dominate the Norris division. While Montreal did take the lead eventually, the Kings remained strong, ending up a close second. Despite that push and a good selection of players along with Bob Pulford winning the Jack Adams award, the Kings lost to the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.
It would be over a decade and Gretzky arriving to get them back into serious contention but still notable how for all their success later, this remains the best regular season Los Angeles has ever had.
16 2006-07 Minnesota Wild: 48-26-8, 104 points, .634
Only around since 2000, the Wild have yet to have serious success in the playoffs despite a few good attempts. This season had success as they ended with the fewest goals allowed in the league that year and started off winning 10 of their first 12 games. Things evened out for the rest of the season but they still did their best to stay strong, ending up second to Vancouver in the Pacific Division's final season standings and landing a playoff berth. They lost to the Ducks in five games and their runs since have not been much better, showing the Wild have yet to really live up to their name with a true standout year.
15 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens: 60-8-12, 132 points, .825
In lists of the greatest NHL teams ever, this is among the top five, often ranked at number one. Their record of 132 points still stands as the most in a season, outscoring opponents by 216 goals and losing only a single game at home. Guy Lalfeur was the star, winning the Hart, Ross and Conn Smythe trophies. As goalie Ken Dryden boasted, the team was almost bored with the lack of serious competition. With coach Scotty Bowman leading them, the Canadiens trampled easily in the playoffs, sweeping the Bruins to win the Cup. Many a team has come and gone but few can top this amazing season for sheer domination of the NHL and still beloved among Montreal fans.
14 2006-07 Nashville Predators: 51-23-8, .671
There was controversy in this year as speculation was growing that the city of Nashville might have to prop up the Predators with sales in order to keep the team going. It didn’t seem to be working as they lost the first three games of the year. However, they then went 20-3 to get more attention and attendance boosted with the mid-season trade for Peter Forsberg that helped the team out as well. The Predators managed to make the playoffs, losing to San Jose in five games but at least for this season, proved hockey belonged in this town with some support to get a good push.
13 New Jersey Devils 2000-01, 48-19-12, 111 points, .677
After years as a bit of a joke, the Devils found themselves becoming winners thanks to the addition of Scott Niedermayer to win the Cup in 1995. A drought followed before they got back to contention to win the Cup again in 2000. Going into the next season, New Jersey soon boasted the best numbers in the NHL with Martin Brodeur top notch at goaltending with nine shutouts and the best power play percentage. They ended the season on top of the Eastern Conference and powered their way to the playoffs with a fantastic Final against the Avalanche. The Devils lost in Game 7 but still felt happy about their great year and would regain the Cup two seasons later.
12 1981-82 New York Islanders: 54-16-10, 118 points, .738
After years of rough play, it all came together for the Islanders in this period. Al Arbour decided that the regular season mattered less than the playoffs and put the focus there. It paid off as the 1980 Islanders only had 91 points but won their first Stanley Cup. Another Cup followed to the point of Arbour deciding it was time the team could focus on the regular season as well. That result soon bore fruit as the Islanders enjoyed a 15-game winning streak en route to finishing their division 26 points ahead.
In the playoffs, the Islanders had a few tough series with the Penguins and their old rivals the Rangers but came out on top to sweep Vancouver for their third Cup. It’s probably the best year of the famed Islanders dynasty and why this team is still well remembered.
11 2014-15 New York Rangers: 53-22-7, 113 points .689
In 1994, after over 50 years, the Rangers finally won the Stanley Cup. However, an exodus of talent led to the team once more falling into a severe rut. But in 2014, things came back together. Coming off a finals loss to the Kings, the Rangers had an even better regular season in 2014-15. To start, Rick Nash scored a goal in each of the first four games. They had an eight-game winning streak that was their longest in 40 years and they ended up with the largest amount of victories and points in the history of the franchise and their third President’s Trophy. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t replicate the success of ’94, or even their 2014 Finals loss, as they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Lightning.
10 2005-06 Ottawa Senators: 52-21-9, 113 points, .689
The Senators kicked off the season by trading Marian Hossa to the Thrashers for Dany Heatley who soon joined to form what would become called “the CASH Line.” Jason Spezza would join for 90 points and Heatley recording a point in 22 straight games and the first Senator to reach 100 points in a season. Ending up at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Senators had high hopes in the playoffs only to end up losing to Buffalo in five games. They would make the Finals the next year to lose and not as much success since, showing this a rare great season for the otherwise struggling Senators.
9 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers: 51-13-16, 118 points.738
No team in NHL history was as rough and wild as the Broad Street Bullies. They instigated bench-clearing brawls on a regular basis, slammed guys to the point of it being criminal assault and spreading blood and broken teeth around. They were also quite skilled on the ice, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups and showing themselves as a top team to hate. This year was highlighted by a record 20 home wins and a highlight of the Flyers manhandling the supposedly unbeatable Soviet hockey team in a special exhibition game. Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber (the LCB line) led the team to rolling over opponents and topped the best record in team history.
However, their luck ran out in the playoffs as they were swept by Montreal in the Finals to prevent a third straight Cup. Yet this still stands as a great showcase for how nasty the Flyers could get.
8 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins: 56-21-7, 119 points, .708
After years as the forgotten hockey team in Pennsylvania, the addition of Mario Lemieux and Ulf Samuelsson transformed the Penguins into the best team on the ice, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. With that momentum, it was no surprise Pittsburgh took off for 1992-93 in their desire for a third straight championship. It was more remarkable given that Lemieux missed over a quarter of the season due to his fight with Hodgkin’s but still led in scoring and led the Penguins to a 17-game winning streak, the largest in NHL history.
The playoff run ended with an upset loss to the Islanders that closed this part of the dynasty out but still a great capper to a highlight of the Penguins’ history that their fans still regard as the best.
7 2013-14 St. Louis Blues: 52-23-7, 111 points, .677
Despite the fact they’ve never won the Cup, the Blues have had some success over the years. This year was their best shot at it, Jaroslav Halak setting a record in shutouts while Alexander Steen quickly got attention for his leading the league in goals scored and the team soon owning a great home record. They broke the record for most team victories in franchise history and they ended up just a point behind the Avalanche for best record in the division. But the Blues’ run ended in the first round of the playoffs to their old foes the Blackhawks.
6 2008-09 San Jose Sharks: 53-18-11, 117 points, .713
They’ve made a recent run in their very first Cup finals but the Sharks have had a lot of rougher seasons to get there. In 2008, the team pulled off a surprise as new coach Todd McLellan joined with Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton to bring the team together for a great run. They lost only one game in November and Claude Lemieux gave them power although they had a slump at the end of the year. That led to the playoffs as they were eliminated in the first round by the Ducks in six games and criticized for not closing the deal. They’ve gotten to the Finals since as San Jose is still trying to prove they can show real bite when it counts.
5 2014-15 Tampa Bay Lightning: 50-24-8, 108 points, .659
After winning the Cup in 2004, the Tampa Bay was affected the next season, canceled by the lockout and several players moving on, causing them to hit a slump for some time. But in 2014, they finally managed to bring back that heat, with Ben Bishop quickly establishing himself as one of the best in the league. Thanks to a strong defense, the Lightning established a new record in wins and points, finishing second in the Atlantic Division and soon firing their way through the playoffs, defeating the Wings, Habs and Rangers en rout to the finals.
The run came to an end in a tight six-game Finals loss to the Blackhawks but when it came to a winning season, Tampa Bay proving Lightning can strike twice.
4 2003-04 Toronto Maple Leafs: 45-24-10, 103 points, .628
Opening their training camp in Sweden showed this would be an offbeat year for the Maple Leafs. Sure, there have been teams that have won Cups and good years but in terms of win percentage and points, this was the topper of the franchise, Mats Sundin leading in scoring and Ed Belfour a top-notch goalie to ensure some good wins, including a 14-1-1 streak mid-way through the year. They ended up losing to the Flyers in six games in the playoffs and wouldn’t make the playoffs again for another decade to showcase this as one of the better teams in the Maple Leafs’ history.
3 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks: 54-19-9, 117 points, .713
Celebrating their 40th anniversary, the Canucks went out to reward their fans well. Despite losing the first game, the Canucks did well with some winning streaks, recording a 50th win for the first time in their history and only giving up 180 goals as they scored 258 goals, the best balance in decades. They took out the defending champion Blackhawks in the first round and fought past the Predators and the Sharks before the Finals.
It was a hard-fought one against the Bruins, the Canucks losing at home in Game 7, a sad end to an otherwise great year but at least the Canucks waited for their 40th to bring the best season yet for fans.
2 2009-10 Washington Capitals: 54-15-13, 121 points, .738
A historic team in many ways, the first non-Original Six team to get more than 121 points. The Caps were led by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin, a top unit that led the league in 313 goals scored and seven players with 20 goals each but the lack of good goaltending kept them from getting even higher in the rankings. Going into the playoffs as heavy favorites, the Capitals were upset by Montreal in the first round, among the bigger surprises in NHL playoff history. A sad end to an otherwise strong team that thoroughly dominated the season but couldn’t close it out.
1 2014-15 Winnipeg Jets: 43-26-13, 99 points, .604
The current form of the Jets had been the Atlanta Thrashers until 2010 so it’s not surprising they haven’t had a lot of years to show off. They had a good shot in the shortened 2013 season but failed to make the playoffs so 2014 is so far their best year. After a slow start, they settled into a good form, balancing victories with a few hard defeats yet not that sensational amid the other teams. They did qualify for the playoffs but were swept in the first round by the Ducks and so it will probably be a few more seasons before the Jets can ride higher.
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