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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22 2012-13 Columbus Blue Jackets: 24-17-7, 55 points, .573
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
16 2006-07 Minnesota Wild: 48-26-8, 104 points, .634
15 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens: 60-8-12, 132 points, .825
14 2006-07 Nashville Predators: 51-23-8, .671
13 New Jersey Devils 2000-01, 48-19-12, 111 points, .677
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.
11 2014-15 New York Rangers: 53-22-7, 113 points .689
10 2005-06 Ottawa Senators: 52-21-9, 113 points, .689
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.
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.
7 2013-14 St. Louis Blues: 52-23-7, 111 points, .677
6 2008-09 San Jose Sharks: 53-18-11, 117 points, .713
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.
4 2003-04 Toronto Maple Leafs: 45-24-10, 103 points, .628
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.
2 2009-10 Washington Capitals: 54-15-13, 121 points, .738
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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