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Bucking the Trend? Nashville and Three Others Look to do so


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29 times. That’s the total number of times a team who has lost in the Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals has come back the next season and either lost in a later round or won the Cup itself.

Since the 1974-1975 season (changing the playoff format to four rounds and two conferences), I looked at the every team’s playoff ventures all the way up to last season’s Cup win by the Boston Bruins.

What do I mean by every team? I mean EVERY team. All 30 teams (and what they used to be). So, in that case, it means all the current teams, but 6 teams have combined stats from two teams:

Carolina (Hartford Whalers)
Winnipeg (Atlanta Thrashers)
Calgary (Atlanta Flames)
Colorado (Quebec Nordiques)
Dallas (Minnesota North Stars)
Phoenix (Winnipeg Jets)

You have to use these stats just to make things fair and accurate. That being said, let’s check out the awesome pie chart below on how things faired

[easychart type="pie" title="Seasons After Losing In Semifinals" groupnames="Did Not Qualify For Playoffs,Lost in Conference Quarterfinals,Lost in Conference Semifinals,Lost in Conference Finals,Lost in Stanley Cup Finals,Won Stanley Cup" group1values="18" group2values="57" group3values="35" group4values="13" group5values="8" group6values="8" chartfadecolor="FFFFFF"]

So, out of the 139 occurances of teams losing in the semifinals, 29 times did a team come back the next season and go further in the playoffs, only a measly 20.9%.

Those teams, in no particular order are:

New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning
Calgary Flames
Quebec Nordiques (now Colorado)
Edmonton Oilers
Vancouver Canucks
Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas)

Which ones made it to the Stanley Cup finals?

New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Vancouver Canucks

Those who WON the Stanley Cup?

New York Rangers
Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers

Although only 20% of teams in their next season advanced past the second round, 87% (122 times) of teams made it at least BACK to the playoffs the next round and 46% (64 times) of those made it past the first round.

Although these are only numbers, there are some quirky things that I did discover:

1) New Jersey, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas/Minnesota, Winnipeg 1.0, and San Jose have NEVER gotten past the second round after losing in the second round the year before

2) Chicago has lost in the second round 3 times since the 74-75 season and 3 times they were eliminated in the first round the next year

3) Washington has never gotten past the FIRST round after losing in the second round the year before

However, things aren’t so glum. Take Tampa and Boston for example. In 2003 the Lightning lost to the Devils in the second round, but then came back to win the Cup the next year

And the Bruins? The 2010 Boston Bruins could best encapsulate the 2011 Nashville Predators: Beating a higher-ranked team to lose to the eventual conference champions (NOTE: Not the Stanley Cup champions)

What did the Bruins do the next season? Nothing but win the Stanley Cup itself.

Could Nashville do the same thing?

Well, we will definitely find out this year, but Nashville (along with Detroit, Washington, and Philly) will be trying to become team number 30 to escape past the second round in the playoffs.