There’s an idea floating around out there that a team needs to be hot going into the playoffs. That idea is totally and completely wrong.
What I have here is a chart of the last ten Stanley Cup champions. Using Hockey-Reference.com, I went back and reviewed their respective records over the final ten games of the season. Than I calculated the winning percentage and compared it to their winning percentage on the season. The final column is the difference:
Team | WN% – Last 10 | WN%-Season | Difference
1997-98 Red Wings | 60% | 54% | +6%
2007-08 Red Wings| 70% | 66% | +4%
1998-99 Stars | 60% | 62% | -2%
2000-01 Avalanche | 60% | 63% | -3%
1999-00 Devils | 50% | 55% | -5%
2003-04 Lightning | 50% | 56% | -6%
2006-07 Ducks | 50% | 59% | -9%
2005-06 Hurricanes | 50% | 63% | -13%
2002-03 Devils | 40% | 56% | -16%
2001-02 Red Wings | 10% | 62% | -52%
Average | 50% | 58% | -8%
Teams that go on to win the Stanley Cup are generally very good in the regular season; no team had a lower number than 54% over that span, and the average was 58% (48 wins on the season). However, over the final ten games of the season the average squad won only five of them, meaning that their winning percentage dropped an astonishing 8% on average over those final ten games.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think this shows rather definitively that expressions like “clicking at the right time” are in fact not based in reality – momentum entering the playoffs means absolutely nothing when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup.
Oh, and that picture above? That’s the presentation of the Stanley Cup in 2002; the Detroit Red Wings won it despite one win in their final ten games.