What Teams With Losing Records Have Made the NHL Playoffs?
There have been several teams in the history of the NHL who have made the playoffs with losing records. However, this has not happened in over 20 years due to league expansion and the introduction of overtime points. Losing records in hockey are measured by points percentage, which is the team’s number of points divided by the maximum number of points they could receive if they won every game. Read on to learn more about the most recent teams to have losing records and still make the NHL Playoffs.
1998-1999 Edmonton Oilers
The 1998-1999 Edmonton Oilers were able to make it to the NHL Playoffs despite a 33-37-12 (.476) record. At first, the Ron Low-led team was doing very well, winning seven of their first 11 regular season games. Unfortunately, the team would then enter a losing slump and drop well below the 0.500 point. Thanks to some last-minute roster changeups, the Oilers were able to make it to the Playoffs but lost 1-2 to the Calgary Flames in their second ever playoff appearance.
1998-1999 San Jose Sharks
The 1998-1999 San Jose Sharks made their second consecutive NHL Playoffs despite a 31-33-18 (.488) record. Though this was a losing record only worth 80 points, this was the first time in the franchise’s eight seasons that they had scored more points than they had allowed (196-191). In the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks faced the Colorado Avalanche for the Western Conference title and lost the first two games, won the next two and were ultimately eliminated in a close overtime period of the fifth and final game.
1997-1998 Edmonton Oilers
The 1997-1998 Edmonton Oilers made their second consecutive NHL Playoffs appearance in six seasons despite having a 35-37-10 record (.488). The first half of their season was rough, only winning 11 and tying nine of their first 42 games. The Ron Low-led team was however able to regain some steam and ended up making it into the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unlike most teams with their record, they even won the first round against the Colorado Avalanche. Sadly, the Oilers lost in the second round to the highly favored Dallas Stars.
1997-1998 San Jose Sharks
The 1997-1998 San Jose Sharks made the NHL Playoffs with a losing record of 34-38-10 (.476). Over the past seven years, the team had become known for finishing last or close to it every season. However, their record improved massively under the guidance of new head coach Daryl Sutter. Though the team was still unable to obtain an overall winning record, they were able to clinch the eighth seed of the Western Conference. In the first round of the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks faced the top-seeded Dallas Stars and lost by two in six games.
1996-1997 Ottawa Senators
The 1996-1998 Ottawa Senators made the NHL Playoffs with a losing record of 34-33-15 (.470). Known for their poor performance, the franchise began the season with a rough start of only winning seven and tying six of their first 25 games. However, they remarkably won almost exactly half of their remaining 57 games and made the seventh seed of the Western Conference. This was the first time in franchise history that the Senators had made the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they lost in the first round 3-4 to the Buffalo Sabres.
1996-1997 Montreal Canadiens
The 1996-1997 Montreal Canadiens made the NHL Playoffs with a record of 31-36-15 (.470). Led by coach Mario Tremblay, the Canadiens made the postseason despite a below-.500 record. The Canadiens lost in the first round to the New Jersey Devils in five games. The 1996-1997 team featured stars Vincent Damphousse, Mark Recchi, and Saku Koivu.
1996-1997 Edmonton Oilers
The 1996-1997 Edmonton Oilers made the NHL Playoffs with a record of 36-37-9 (.494). The Oilers had missed the playoffs the previous four years, which put general manager Glen Sather and head coach Ron Low in a spot where they needed to win. Despite having a losing record, the season was declared a success, as the Oilers made it to the playoffs. Led by stellar goaltending from Curtis Joseph, the Oilers were able to make it past the first round, but were defeated in the Conference Semifinals by the Colorado Avalanche in five games.
1996-1997 Chicago Blackhawks
The 1996-1997 Chicago Blackhawks made the NHL Playoffs with a record of 34-35-13 (.494). They were led by future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Ed Belfour. Surprisingly enough, despite the losing record, the 1996-1997 Chicago Blackhawks scored 13 more goals than they conceded in the regular season. However, the Blackhawks fell to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round 4-2.
What is the worst team ever to make the NHL Playoffs?
The worst team ever to make the NHL Playoffs were the 1987-1988 Toronto Maple Leafs, who had a record of 21-49-10 (.325 points percentage). They lost in the first round to the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. Back then, 16 out of the 21 teams in the league made the playoffs, making it much easier for a team with a poor record to make the postseason.