Bob Clarke helped the Flyers to a 35-game unbeaten streak in 1979-80. (THN Archives)
This has been a streaky year for the NHL. The Maple Laughs began the season 0-8-0; the Big, (really) Bad Bruins recently lost 10 games in a row; the Hurricanes were blown away in 14 consecutive contests in October and November; and the Oilers struck nothing but losses in December and January, an unlucky straight 13 to be exact.
At the other end of the spectrum, Los Angeles recently crowned its opponents nine times consecutively and Ottawa looked very Senatorial in winning 11-straight contests. But Washington looks to raise the bar on streakiness this season, as the Capitals go for their 15th consecutive victory Wednesday at Montreal, a staggering streak when you consider the up-and-downs and supposed parity of the new NHL.
If the Caps are successful, they’ll just squeak on to our list of the NHL’s top 10 all-time streaks this week; we here at THN award success more than futility, so winning and undefeated streaks get precedence over losing and winless streaks.
10. Philadelphia Quakers, 1930-31, 15 consecutive losses
The Quakers lasted just one NHL season, finishing with a paltry .136 winning percentage (4-36-4) in 44 games. Gerry Lowrey led the team in scoring with 13 goals and 27 points; the league leader was Montreal’s Howie Morenz with 28 goals and 51 points.
9. New York Islanders, 1981-82, 15 consecutive victories
The Islanders were at the height of their power in ’81-82. They finished first overall with a 54-16-10 record and won their third of four Stanley Cups in May, losing just four games along the way.
8. San Jose Sharks, 1992-93, 17 consecutive losses
In just their second NHL season, the Sharks finished with an 11-71-2 record (a record for single-season losses). Amazingly, however, they finished just second last overall; Ottawa also finished with 24 points, but had one fewer victory. San Jose did manage to give up the most goals in the league, though, a mind-boggling 414 or 4.9 per game and tie the mark for most consecutive losses. Not a single player finished with a plus rating; three finished minus-50.
7. Washington Capitals, 1974-75, 17 consecutive losses
Known as the worst team of all-time, the expansion Capitals finished with an 8-67-5 record, 20 points behind the next worst team, Kansas City. Washington set or tied the modern records for fewest wins in a season, fewest road wins (1), fewest points (21), most consecutive losses and most goals allowed (446).
6. Pittsburgh Penguins, 1992-93, 17 consecutive victories
The Penguins were coming off two Stanley Cup parades and boasted a lineup that included scoring leader Mario Lemieux (69 goals, 160 points in 60 games), No. 4 career scorer Ron Francis, power forwards Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet (103 goals, 220 points combined) Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy (fifth most blueliner points ever) and top netminder Tom Barrasso. And they were coached by Scotty Bowman. The Pens won the Presidents’ Trophy with a 56-21-7 record and set the mark for consecutive wins, but fell in the second round to the Islanders in seven games.
5. Washington Capitals, 1975-76, 25-game winless streak
Ah those loveable Caps. Turns out Year 2 wasn’t much better than Year 1: An 11-59-10 record, last overall by four points and a minus-170 goal differential. But they did tie the modern record for fewest home wins (6). Their leading scorer was Nelson Pyatt with 26 goals and 49 points, 76 behind league leader Guy Lafleur.
4. Kansas City Scouts, 1975-76, 27-game winless streak
Wow. When the NHL expanded in the ’70s, it really didn’t ice competitive squads. And wow. The ’75-76 season set the mark for futility. The Scouts lasted just two seasons before moving to Colorado to become the Rockies until ’86 and then off to New Jersey, where they remain the Devils. Unlike the hapless Caps, the hapless Scouts were actually worse their second season, finishing 12-56-12 record.
3. Montreal Canadiens, 1977-78, 28-game undefeated streak
The Habs were, um, OK in the ’70s. They won six Cups, including four in a row to finish the decade. They also racked up three Art Ross Trophies, two Harts, two Mastertons, five Vezinas, a Calder, four Conn Smythes, a Norris, two Selkes, three Pearsons and a Jack Adams award. Montreal finished first overall in ’77-78 with a 59-10-11 record and finished plus-176 in goal differential.
2. Winnipeg Jets, 1980-81, 30-game winless streak
Only one team has won fewer games than the ’80-81 Jets, who finished with a 9-57-14 record. Winnipeg finished last overall by 24 points. Interestingly, the Jets won 20 games the season before (their first after being absorbed from the World Hockey Association) and 33 the season after (Dale Hawerchuk’s rookie year), showing the volatility of NHL hockey in the early ’80s.
1. Philadelphia Flyers, 1979-80, 35-game undefeated streak
The Broad Street Bullies had seven players finish the season with 100-plus penalty minutes, but they could win, too. Their 48-12-20 record was good for first overall and they lost just two playoff games on their way to the final, where the Islanders won their first of four consecutive Cups. The Flyers were led by Ken Linseman (79 points), Reggie Leach (50 goals) and goaltender Pete Peters (2.73 GAA).
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