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Ooh! Aah! Sabres on the Warpath!, NY • United States • 35 Years Old • Male
Winners of the last 20 Stanley Cups and how they finished in their conference:

07-08 Red Wings 1rst 115pts
06-07 Ducks 2nd 110pts
05-06 Hurricanes 2nd 112pts
03-04 Lightning 1rst 106pts
02-03 Devils 2nd 108pts
01-02 Red Wings 1rst 116pts
00-01 Avalanche 1rst 118pts
99-00 Devils 4th 103pts
98-99 Stars 1rst 114pts
97-98 Red Wings 2nd 103pts

96-97 Red Wings 3rd 94pts
95-96 Avalanche 2nd 104pts
94-95 Devils 5th 52pts
93-94 Rangers 1rst 112pts
92-93 Canadiens 5th 102pts
91-92 Penguins 4th 87pts
90-91 Penguins 2nd 88pts
89-90 Oilers 2nd 90pts
88-89 Flames 1rst 117pts
87-88 Oilers 2nd 99pts

In the last 20 seasons the Stanley Cup has been won by 12 different teams.
It seems the playoff positioning of these teams plays a major role in the outcome of the winner. Over these 20 seasons:

2 teams finished 5th in their conference
2 teams finished 4th in their conference
1 team finished 3rd in their conference
8 teams finished 2nd in their conference
7 teams finished 1st in their conference

So over the last 20 seasons no team that has finished lower than 5th in the standings has won the Cup. If you finished in the top 2 in your conference you had a 37.5% chance of winning((15/20)/2 conferences). That is some extremely good odds.

Furthermore, if you look at just the last 10 years top 2 seeds did even better. You had a 45% chance of winning((9/10)/2 conferences). And the year the Devils finished 4th? They were only 2pts out of 1rst.

It seems as though teams do not have a very good chance of winning the cup unless they finish very high in the standings. I guess this means teams need to rack up some major points in the regular season and not just try to slide in or hold onto that last spot. Who will be the favorites at year end? Or will a team from the lower seeds break through this year and take it all. All I know is, you cannot win it if your not in the playoffs.

As it stands today:

1 Rangers
2 Bruins


1 Sharks
2 Red Wings

Can your team finish in the top 2?
November 13, 2008 3:12 PM ET | Delete
I agree with the general point of this blog, but I couldn't resist offering some mathematical assistance. Your percentages are twice what they should be--while it is true, for example, that a top-2 seed has won the Stanley Cup nine out of ten times in the last ten seasons, there are FOUR teams that qualify as a top-2 seed each year (two in each conference) so you should be dividing by 4 teams, not 2 conferences: 9/10/4 = 22.5 percent (or, 40 top-2 teams in the last ten years, 9 Cup wins, 9/40 = 22.5 percent) chance of victory for each individual team. STILL, I think the main point of this article is bang on: if you're not near the top of your conference, your road is going to be very, very difficult.
November 13, 2008 4:00 PM ET | Delete
Sven22, thanks for catching my slipup. You are right.
November 13, 2008 5:09 PM ET | Delete
You have a very good point, but then the playoffs were invented so that the owners and some players could make more money. That's reason half of the teams make the playoffs. It's the all mighty dollar, baby!In a perfect world, the team that finishes the season at the top of standings in each conference should play its counterpart in the other conference for the The Cup.
November 13, 2008 5:12 PM ET | Delete
I correct myself, I should have said Division; not conference. Currently, that would be the Rangers and the Sharks.
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