The drought continues. The Stanley Cup drought among Canadian NHL franchises will continue for yet another year and now extends 21 NHL seasons without the Cup heading north after the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames were eliminated in the second round of the 2015 playoffs.
As a refresher, the last Canadian franchise to win the Stanley Cup was the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens who beat the Wayne Gretzky led Los Angeles Kings in five games to win its 24th Stanley Cup in franchise history. This last win would cap off what had been a significant run by Canadian teams in bringing home the Cup.
In the 20 seasons prior to the Canadiens last Cup win (1972-1992), Canadian franchises won a total of 12 Stanley Cups or 60% of total Cups. Due, mainly, to the strength of the Canadiens (6 of the 12) and Edmonton Oilers (5 of the 12) franchises.
We decided to take a look at the numbers behind the Canadian Stanley Cup drought.
First, here is a chart of the number of Canadian teams that made the playoffs in each of the last 21 playoffs:
In the last 21 seasons, Canadian teams have qualified for the playoffs a total of 70 times, which on average is 3.33 Canadian teams per season.
The best qualifying season came in 2003-04 when 5 of the 6 Canadian teams made it to the post-season (Oilers were the only team not to make it), which was 83.3% of Canadian teams. The worst qualifying season was the 2013-14 season in which just 1 of the 7 Canadian franchises reached the playoffs, which equates to just 14.29% of the teams.
Here is a look at each of the last 21 playoffs:
|Playoffs||NHL Teams||CDN Teams||CDN Playoff Teams||% CDN Teams In Playoffs|
But how does the 70 Canadian teams making the playoffs compare to expectations. In other words, on average, how many Canadian teams should make the playoffs each season? The simplest way to evaluate this is to assume that every team has an equal chance (realistically, they don't but for the sake of simplicity).
With the current mix of 7 Canadian teams among the 30 NHL franchises, assuming an equal chance among all teams, 3.73 of the Canadian teams should make the playoffs. Obviously, 3.73 teams can't make it but it does give an indication of the basic rate of making the playoffs.
If you extrapolate this over the last 21 seasons, we find that Canadian teams were expected to have made the playoffs a total of 75.4 times - while an underachievement not a drastic one.
|Playoffs||CDN % of NHL Teams||Expected CDN Playoff Teams||CDN Playoff Teams||CDN vs. Expectations|
And while Canadian teams have underperformed in making the playoffs the real problem has been in converting on their chances in the playoffs as illustrated by the 0 cups over the last 21 seasons.
In fact, a Canadian team has made the Stanley Cup Finals a total of five times over this period but each had failed in their attempt at ending the drought - interestingly, four of the five series went to Game 7 with each team ultimately losing the final game (three of those games were on the road).
- 1994: Vancouver Canucks 3-4 New York Rangers
- 2004: Calgary Flames 3-4 Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2006: Edmonton Oilers 3-4 Carolina Hurricanes
- 2007: Ottawa Senators 1-4 Anaheim Ducks
- 2011: Vancouver Canucks 3-4 Boston Bruins
|Playoffs||CDN Playoff Teams||Conf. Semis||Conf. Finals||SCF||Cup Wins|
Again, if we assume even chance, how many Cups would be expected among the 70 teams that made the playoffs over the last 21 playoffs? If we simply take the percentage of Canadian teams that made the playoffs each season and find the percentage out of 16 teams we find the basic probability of a Canadian team winning - for example, if 4 teams make it there is a 25% chance that one of those teams would win the Cup (4/16).
|Playoffs||CDN Playoff Teams||Even Chance Probability|
Calculating this over each of the 19 playoffs we find that Canadian teams, having made the playoffs and with an equal chance of winning the Cup, would be expected to win 4.381 Cups over this period. For fans of Canadian teams, I'm sure one day the cup will return. Maybe.