Teams of the Decade: Playoff Wins

It's a long-standing question: is it better to go to the playoffs every year and win once or twice? Or is it better to go not quite as often and still win the same number of times? The teams with the highest playoff winning percentage might shed some light on that:

Win% GP W L
ANA 636 77 49 28
DET 590 122 72 50
PIT 584 77 45 32
COL 561 98 55 43
NJD 557 115 64 51

I think the answer is clear: it was vastly better to be a Detroit or New Jersey fan over the last decade than it was to be an Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Carolina or Tampa fan despite the latter four winning as many cups as the Wings and Devils combined.

At the other end of the scale are teams whose annual success was fleeting:

1st Rd. Later Rds.
SJS 6-2 1-6
VAN 3-3 0-3
COL 6-1 5-6
TOR 4-1 1-4
MTL 3-2 0-3

Failure has been particularly acute for Canadian teams: while they've won 16 of 33 first round series, they've gone just 5-11 in the second round, and, famously, 0-3 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Still, it was much worse to be a fan of the league's perennial losers over the last decade:

1st Rd. Wins
NSH 0-4 6
NYI 0-4 6
PHX 0-2 2
ATL 0-1 0
CBJ 0-1 0
FLA 0-1 0

Last, but not least, the leaders in overtime records:


OTW OTL Win%
LAK 5 0 1000
ANA 14 3 824
CAR 15 6 714
PIT 9 5 643
BUF 10 6 625

The number of playoff-related heart attacks was quite low in the Los Angeles and Raleigh areas. On the other end of the scale:


OTW OTL Win%
MTL 4 7 364
DET 8 17 320
SJS 4 10 286
NYR 1 3 250
WSH 2 8 200

Detroit has managed to live down a very poor record in OT. Interestingly, their OT play has not hurt them very much in the later rounds - they went 4-4 in the semi-finals and Stanley Cup Finals. Their 4-13 OT record in the first two rounds isn't very well-remembered because of the relatively low leverage of those series. San Jose, on the other hand, has gone 2-8 in OT in the series in which they were eliminated. In all but one of these best-of-sevens, a San Jose OT win would have put them ahead in the series. Without a season where they went deeper in the playoffs, the Sharks of the first decade of the century will be remembered - justifiably - for losing clutch games.

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