There’s nothing quite like watching a sports team who has such undeniable chemistry that it’s like watching a well-oiled machine perform. When a group of players fits together as if an assortment of puzzle pieces fitting together to complete a whole, wonderful things can happen.
Conversely, when a team lacks any sort of chemistry, it can be brutally painful to watch, as the players uninspiringly attempt to salvage their dignities. When the talent level is so low, or the players are so uninterested in the game’s outcome, horrible, yet entertaining, statistics can occur.
This list will examine and break down some of the NHL’s most incredible team records from the league’s inception to the present. Some of these records are astonishing and the players behind them should be praised for their incredulous success in an otherwise extremely difficult league. Others are simply unfathomable due in part to their dreadfulness, but also because they are the lowest of the low in a professional league that has been around for 100 years. Hockey fans of days past, as well as more recent supporters, will no doubt recall some of these records. Whether or not your favorite team made this list – Toronto and Washington fans beware – these records are sure to astound even the most conservative of hockey statisticians (*cough* Brian Burke *cough*). And if your favorite team did in fact make this list – heads up Montreal and Pittsburgh fans – this list will provide you with an arsenal of information next time you go to brag about your squad.
29 Most Goals In 70 Or More Games - 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers
The 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers were a team that was just entering into the beginning of a dynastic run that, at the end of its dominance, resulted in five Stanley Cup championships. This team featured players such as Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffee, so it is not all that surprising that they hold the record for most goals scored in a season that featured at least 70 games. That season, the Oilers scored a total of 446 goals in 80 regular season games. When averaged out, that means that the Oilers scored over 5 goals per game! Of course, having the best NHL player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, was a large factor as he himself contributed 87 goals. The Oilers’ top-3 scorers that season (Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson) combined to score a total of 193 goals – well over one third of the team’s total.
27 Most Points In 70 Or More Games - 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens of 1976-77 went on to have the most successful regular season ever put together by an NHL team, and were rewarded that year by winning the Stanley Cup. In the 80 regular season games, the Canadiens compiled a record of 60-8-12 for a total of 132 points, the most a team has ever collected in one season. This season saw the Canadiens establish two other team records that are still standing today: the fewest losses in 70 or more games (8), and the greatest goal differential in one season (+216). Of course, with the likes of Ken Dryden in net, Guy Lapointe on Defense, and Guy Lafleur up front, it is unsurprising that this Montreal team was record-setting. To put this record into perspective, there was a possible 160 points to be had that year for each team, and the Canadiens won 132 of them, while only forfeiting 28.
25 Most Losses In 70 Or More Games - 1992-93 San Jose Sharks
The 1992-93 NHL season was not very kind to the San Jose Sharks. In fact, it was the worst season (record-wise), put together by any team in the history of the league. Of the 84 regular season games played that year, the Sharks lost a total of 71 contests. Their final record that year was 11-71-2 which culminated into a measly 24 points. In 2004, ESPN compiled a list of the worst teams in the first 25 years of the ESPN Era, ranking the 1992-93 Sharks as the sixth worst team. This wasn’t the only abysmal record that the Sharks set that season. They also established the team record for most consecutive losses in a row, having been defeated consecutively for 17 games. This highest plus/minus rating on the team that year was a (-1) and the Sharks were scored on an astounding 414 times leaving their number one goalie, Arturs Irbe, with a 4.11 goals against average.
23 Longest Stanley Cup Final Drought - 1967-present Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf fans… you may want to skip ahead to the next record. For an organization that is, arguably, one of the league’s most storied and important teams, it is almost unbelievable that the Maple Leafs have managed to avoid the Stanley Cup Finals for such a long time. The last time the Leafs played in the finals was in 1967, a year that only Leaf fans old enough to have witnessed the Vietnam War can remember. This means that the Leafs Stanley Cup Finals drought sits at 48 years – and counting. This is not a championship drought which, depending on if you’re a New York Ranger fan, may be easier to swallow. No, this is rather a finals drought; the Leafs haven’t even made it back to the finals in 48 seasons! For a team that has so much history, and for a fan base that claims itself as the center of the hockey universe, this record may be enough to open eyes to the falsity of those claims.
21 Best Penalty Kill Percentage In One Season - 2011-12 New Jersey Devils
The 2011-12 New Jersey Devils could have probably taken as many penalties as they wanted during the regular season. As a team the Devils set the record for the best penalty kill percentage ever in an NHL season at a rate of 89.58%. Effectively, the Devils were only scored on once out of every ten penalties they took, which is an incredibly hard thing to accomplish in the NHL. The Devils were definitely the benefactor of having the best goaltender of all time, Martin Brodeur, as their best penalty killer, but were also aided by a strong, prototypical New Jersey defensive system. A testament to their near impenetrable penalty kill was their ability to score shorthanded, scoring the most shorthanded goals in the NHL that season with 15. The Devils finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, but relied on their strong penalty kill to propel them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they eventually lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
19 Fewest Wins In 70 Or More Games - 1974-75 Washington Capitals
The 1974-75 season for the Washington Capitals, which happened to be the franchise’s inaugural campaign, was an utter disaster. All of the excitement and the hope of becoming a new NHL expansion team quickly vanished in Washington as the team was by far the worst in the league. By the end of the season, the Capitals had established a team record for the fewest wins in a season with only 8 victories. They managed to secure 7 wins at their home rink, but only one while on the road. Not surprisingly, the team also set the single season record for the worst goal differential at (-265) with only 181 goals for and 446 against. Their final record for that season was 8-67-5, which is the worst record in NHL history and awarded them only 21 out of a possible 160 points. It would have been quite depressing to have been a player or fan of the Washington Capitals that year, as their number of wins could have been counted using two hands.
17 Most Wins In 70 Or More Games - 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings
Completely the opposite of the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, the Detroit Red Wings were nearly unstoppable in the 1995-96 NHL season. Of the 82 regular season games played that year, the Red Wings won 62 contests, setting the record for most wins by a team in a single season. During that year, the only winning records better than that in all of professional sports, were the Seattle SuperSonics 64 wins and the 72-10 Chicago Bulls. It’s not hard to imagine why the Red Wings were so dominant that season as they were coached by Scotty Bowman and had the likes of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Paul Coffee, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Osgood on their team. Unfortunately for the Red Wings, their record-setting season was for not, as the Colorado Avalanche defeated them in the third round of the playoffs, beginning what was to become a rivalry that lasted nearly a decade.
15 Longest Winning Streak - 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins
The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins were by far the best team in the NHL for that year, totaling 59 wins for 119 points. During that season, the Penguins put together a winning streak that still stands today as the longest such streak in NHL history. Pittsburgh went on to win 17 games in a row, upon having an injured Mario Lemieux return from the injured reserve. The Penguins had four players reach 100 points that season (Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet, and Ron Francis) while five separate players scored at least 30 goals. The streak started on March, 9 and lasted until April, 10 meaning they played an entire month of hockey without losing a game. Had it not been for his injuries, Mario Lemieux might have put together the greatest season ever by a player point-wise, as he was on pace to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal and assist records.
13 Most Playoff Goals Scored By One Team In One Game - 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers
On April 9, 1987 the Edmonton Oilers were host to the Los Angeles Kings in game 2 of the first round of the playoffs. The Oilers would go on to dominate the game, scoring 13 goals and setting the NHL record for the most goals by one team in one playoff game. This came off the heels of a surprising game 1 victory by the Kings and the 13 goal outpouring is perhaps the result of the Oilers making a retaliatory statement. Again, the road was paved by Oiler superstar Wayne Gretzky who finished the playoffs with 12 goals and 43 points, while being supplemented by Jari Kurri who netted 14 goals and 31 points. This record setting game was but one of the 16 wins required in the playoffs to win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years. In one game of hockey, the Oilers scored 13 goals, a box score that closer resembles a baseball game.
11 Most Penalty Minutes In One Season - 1991-92 Buffalo Sabres
The 1991-92 Buffalo Sabres were not a fun team to play against for any opposing player. Although they were not the most talented team in the NHL, they were certainly one of the toughest and most aggressive in the league. That year, Buffalo set the team record for most penalty minutes in one season collecting a staggering 2,713 minutes. When averaged out, that equates to roughly 1,356 minor penalties being called against the Sabres. Led by notorious enforcer Rob Ray, the Sabres pugilistic identity led them all the way to the playoffs, where they were beaten out by the Boston Bruins in the first round. This was the same year that future Sabres’ legend Pat Lafontaine was traded from the New York Islanders to Buffalo, which is perhaps the reason why Rob Ray racked up so many penalty minutes – form protecting Lafontaine. Regardless, this is a team record that took a lot of black eyes, and bloody knuckles to accomplish, and is one that should not be broken any time soon.
9 Most Consecutive Playoff Games Won - 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins
Over the course of two straight seasons, the Pittsburgh Penguins would string together a team record that is still intact today. The Penguins were able to win 14 consecutive playoff games over the course of two playoff runs, which included their Stanley Cup championship in 1992. In the 1992 playoffs, they won three straight games in the Division Finals and swept the next two series (4-2, 4-0, and 4-0) on their way to winning the Cup. The next year, in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs, they won the first 3 games of the first round, where their streak came to an end with a loss to the New Jersey Devils. That the Penguins were able to put together such a winning streak in the playoffs – the toughest time to play hockey – should come as no surprise, given the fact that they were an offensively stacked team that featured the talents of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet, and Larry Murphy.
7 Longest Undefeated Streak - 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers
During the 1979-80 season, the Philadelphia Flyers went undefeated for a record 35 games. This streak is incredibly unbelievable, considering the fact that 35 games was nearly half of the season. Half of the season would have consisted of 40 games, so the Flyers streak was only five games short of notching that mark. This unprecedented undefeated streak happened during the era before either overtime or shootouts were implemented so that teams were able to tie each other. The Flyers’ streak consisted of 25 wins and 10 ties, for a total of 60 points in a season that saw the Flyers collect a total of 116 points and finish first in their division. That year the Flyers were coached by the late, great Pat Quinn who led the Flyers into the playoffs as the number 1 seed. They swept Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in a playoff run that took them to the finals where they eventually lost to the New York Islanders.
5 Longest Consecutive Attendance Sellout - 1995-2006 Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche was apparently the hottest ticket in town throughout the mid-1990s and into the early 2000s. The Denver-based team holds the NHL record for the longest consecutive attendance sellouts in a row. Avalanche home games, both regular season and postseason, were sold-out for over a decade and at the end of the streak totaled 487 sellouts in a row. Either the tickets were extremely cheap, or the team was incredibly fun to watch. With players as exciting as Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk, and Adam Foote, it was certainly the latter which led to the sellout streak. During this incredible run, the Avalanche won eight straight conference titles and went on to win the franchise’s only two Stanley Cups. With all of this success and excitement in the “mile-high city”, it is no wonder the team was able to sell out so many consecutive games. As for the Colorado faithful who came out in droves to watch, talk about getting your money’s worth.
3 Longest Playoff Appearance Streak - 1968-1996 Boston Bruins
The fans in Boston are extremely spoiled when it comes to sports. They have the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Celtics, and the Bruins – all of whom have won a championship in the last decade. Boston was the first city in the 21st Century to have all four of its professional sporting teams win a league championship. It does not come as a surprise then that the Boston Bruins were able to secure a playoff berth for a record 29 straight seasons. That is nearly three decades of postseason hockey! Some NHL franchises haven’t even been around for that long. During that run, the Bruins were able to win the Stanley Cup only twice, but were able to provide entertaining hockey to their fan base for an unprecedented amount of time. Of the four major professional sports in North America (baseball, football, hockey, and basketball), the Boston Bruins playoff streak is the longest not only in the NHL, but the longest out of the other three leagues as well.
1 Most Stanley Cups - Montreal Canadiens
Sorry Toronto Maple Leaf fans but when it comes to the most storied franchise in the NHL’s illustrious history, the Montreal Canadiens are most certainly it. The rouge, bleu, et blanc are the NHL’s winningest team and record holders for most Stanley Cups won by a single franchise. The Canadiens are single-handedly why the room reserved for the winning players’ names is running out on the Stanley Cup. In total, the Canadiens have won a record 23 (24 if you count their Cup victory in 1916 the year before the NHL was established) and sit ten ahead of the next closest team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is safe to say that Montreal has enjoyed its fair share of champagne and seen its fair share of victory parades. Although the Canadiens' last Cup victory came back in 1992-93, they have still won enough championships to secure this record for a long, long time.