Sunday, February 06, 2011

Which is the Best NHL Team?

After 53 games how good is this Canucks team? What do you measure against?

The best team ever, in the regular season, is arguably the Montreal Canadiens of ’76-77. That team only lost 8 games all season. They also had 12 ties for 60 wins in an eighty game season in an era when you didn’t get points for losing a shootout. Of the 160 points available to the Habs on day one of the ’96-97 season, they were able to pick up 82.5% of those points.

The team with the most single season wins ever is Detroit in ’95-96 with 62. Detroit tallied 131 points that season in which the league then played 82 games and awarded one point for a loss in overtime. Still no shootout. Detroit’s record was 62 wins, 13 losses and 7 ties. Of the 164 points available to the Wings on day one of the ’95-96, season they were able to pick up 79.9% of those points.

The most points your Canucks have ever earned is 105. This high was reached in ’06-07. At that time there were 82 games, points for overtime losses and points for shootout losses. Vancouver’s record was 49 wins, 26 outright losses, 3 overtime losses and 4 shootout losses. I’d call that 49 and 33.

With 29 games or 58 points remaining in the ’10-11 season, the Canucks could reach a theoretical max of 135 points if they were to win out. Totally unrealistic but would put the team in the discussion with the ’76-77 Habs and ’95-96 Wings.

To this point the team has been picking up 77.6% of the available points. This is 7% to 10% below the pace of the benchmarks set by the Habs and Wings. Unless this team was to tear up the rest of the season the discussions of best need to be shelved for a future campaign. Continuing on the current pace will put the Canucks at 119 points come season’s end. This would represent by far the highest point total by any version of the Canucks.

A few days back, I heard an interesting comment by an ex NHL’re with several cup rings. His comment was you do not go out and win a Stanley Cup. You position yourself so that the cup comes to you. We know that 96 points will get you to the post season dance. We also know that the combination of President’s trophy winners and Stanley Cup winner in the same year is more the exception than the rule. Teams that battle for the 6, 7 and 8 seeds in each Conference are often battle hardened for the second season. They already have the win at any cost mentality. Whereas President Trophy winners, with their playoff ducat punched early, often coast to the finish line resting key players. The occasional glimpse over at the other Conference to see where their President Trophy rivals are and the opps excuse me we won.

If the Canucks were to coast into the post season by playing .500 hockey from here on out their total would be 106 points. Interesting – one point better than the previous best. That version of the Canucks lost to the eventual cup winning Anaheim Ducklings in the second round.

Lots of possible outcomes are still in play for the ’10-11 season. This could be the best regular season team ever. This could be the best Canucks team ever. The lads could tank, Luongo or a Sedin could get injured; the team could struggle to 94 points and just miss the playoffs. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The important facts of today are: we are 9 points up on Detroit for the conference lead. We are 2 points up on Philly for the Presidents Trophy. If the playoff were to start today, we get the LA Kings in first round and home ice advantage for as long as we stay alive in the playoffs. We are 16 wins away from the Holly Grail and none of those 16 games will be played before 13-Apr-2011. Enjoy the regular season success. The real proof of best is yet to come.


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1 comment:

  1. How did it turn out?

    The 2010-11 Canucks ended up with 117 points making them the most succussful regular season version of the team. Their winning percentage was 71.3%.

    The Canucks did finish 1st overall and were awarded the Presidents' Trophy.