Fastest To Clinch a Playoff Berth

  1. morehockeystats

    morehockeystats Unusual hockey stats

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    When seeing the hurricane speed with which the Lightning seems to be crashing into the playoffs, I wondered which team was the quickest to clinch the playoffs in the history of the NHL. Well, since 1942. I asked the question on Twitter, but there was no definite answer.

    If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain, said Francis Bacon, and I obliged.

    Here are the results:
    The earliest clinch of the playoffs belongs to the 1978/79 New York Islanders, 25 games before the end of the season, or 31.25% of the season's length. This was a top-12 place clinch in a 17-team, 80-round league.

    The earliest clinch of the playoffs with 16 spots belongs to the 1982/83 Philadelphia Flyers, 24 games before the end of the season, or 30% of the season's length. This was a top-4 place clinch in a 6-team division of 21-team, 80-round league.

    The earliest clinch of the playoffs with today-like 8 x 2 conferences spots belongs to the 1995/96 Detroit Red Wings, 22 games before the end of the season, or 26.8% of the season's length (the first 82-game season). This was a top-8 place clinch in a 13-team conference of a 26-team league.

    The earliest clinch of the playoffs with a 2 conferences and at least 30 teams in the league belongs to the 2001/02 Detroit Red Wings, 16 games before the end of the season, or 19.5% of the season's length. However, the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season playoff berth 11 games before the end of the season, or 22.9% of the season's length.

    The earliest clinch of the playoffs spot in a 16-team conference belongs to the 2015/16 Washington Capitals, 13 games before the end of the season, or 15.9% of the season's length.

    The latest first clinch of the playoffs would go either to the 2014/15 Nashville Predators, 6 games before the end of the season, or 7.3% of the season's length, or to the 1942/43 Detroit Red Wings, 5 games before the end of the season, or 10% of the season's length. These could be called the highest parity seasons in the NHL history.

    The whole file is attached in the CSV format, enjoy.
    I might make a rubrique of it on my site, we'll see...
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
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  2. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    Do you mean the 1981-82 Islanders? Philadelphia wasn't particularly strong in 1981-82.
     
  3. morehockeystats

    morehockeystats Unusual hockey stats

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    I meant the 1982/83 Flyers, thanks for the correction.
     
  4. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    Interesting, they sure wouldn't have been the first team from this era that I would have guessed. Those Flyers ended up 58 points ahead of the 5th-place team in the Patrick, while the Bruins of the same year were 65 points clear of the 5th-place Whalers in the Adams Division. Mildly surprising that the Flyers clinched quicker than the Bruins.
     
  5. morehockeystats

    morehockeystats Unusual hockey stats

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    And this has been now superseded by the Tampa Bay Lightning with 14 games, or 17.1% of the season's length.
     

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